Stipe Miocic finally has his contract dispute with the UFC behind him, and he's ready to step back inside the Octagon and defend his heavyweight crown.
Miocic captured the heavyweight title from Fabricio Werdum in his own home country of Brazil with a devastating first round knockout, before going on to have a successful first title defense against Alistair Overeem in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio via first round knockout as well.
Several months later he'd make yet another title defense, this time against former champion Junior Dos Santos, who he finished in the first round as well via TKO.
As one of the most dominant champions the heavyweight division has seen, Miocic has the opportunity to become the first man in UFC history to defend the heavyweight title successfully in three consecutive fights.
A new challenger has emerged, however, and he looks to be one of the most freakishly gifted athletic specimens the world of combat sports has ever seen.
Francis Ngannou is a fierce knockout artist, who's first round finish of striking phenom Alistair Overeem earlier this month may just be the most devastating knockout in MMA history.
During a recent episode of The Joe Rogan MMA Show, however, Miocic noted that he believes Ngannou is a 'sloppy' fighter and expects to get the job done against the Frenchman (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I’m excited, man,” Miocic said Wednesday on the Joe Rogan Experience. “Listen, he’s a good, tough dude.
"I mean, he can bring the pain. So will I. But unfortunately I’m not walking out without that belt. I’m still the champ. It’ll be ‘and still.’
“His power, I guess, but I think everyone hits hard in the heavyweight division,” Miocic said. “I mean, 260-pound men, 250-pound men, you’re not supposed to be hit by something like that.
"I fought ‘JDS,’ I fought Alistair (Overeem), I fought Mark Hunt. I fought guys who threw hard. And he’s a little wild too, which, that’s tough.
"Sometimes you can’t prepare for that because there’s punches you don’t see.
“Every guy is different, every fight is different,” Miocic added. “Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my God, his punching power.’ Listen, there’s a lot of guys who hit hard.
"There’s no question, he does hit hard, but I’m not going to be stupid and put myself in a position where I’m going to get hit.
"I’m going to do things that make him feel uncomfortable, and I’m going to do what I’m going to do. I’m not going to sit there and let him do what he wants. I’m going to dictate what I want.
“He’s definitely gotten better, there’s no question, but we’ll see what happens. Listen, I’m going out there for broke. I’m going out there to win,” Miocic said.
“I’ll find out Jan. 20. I think I’ll be alright. I have the best coaches in the world, I’m pretty confident walking in there. He’s a big dude, throws hard, but that’s every heavyweight. It doesn’t take much.
“I think Overeem really was just kinda being a little sloppy (against Ngannou) and then put his face right in the lane,” Miocic said.
“When I fought him, he was very traditional, moving around, running, but keeping his distance. Like, okay cool, that’s a fight.
"Then he tried that lunging — I don’t know what kind of kick — to my thigh and I grabbed it and took him down.
"But, I didn’t watch the whole fight with Ngannou, but what I saw was he (Overeem) was throwing all these wild punches.
"When he fought me, he was throwing straights and he wasn’t really [throwing anything wild].
“I think he’s a great fighter,” Miocic said. “Definitely, he brings it. Hits hard. But unfortunately nothing’s going to change.
"I’m walking out with the belt still wrapped around my waist. I’m excited for him, he’s going to get his shot. But as long as I’m here, no one’s going to be champ.”
What are your thoughts on Miocic's comments suggesting that Ngannou is a 'sloppy' fighter? Do you think that he'll be able to retain his title against the French challenger? And how do you see the fight ending? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below!
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