When I asked Stipe Miočić 1 about how much different it has been to fight in the UFC since it requires travel, he told me that he doesn’t like flying very much. The way he laughed about it afterwards, I am guessing that when he says he doesn’t like it much, he really doesn’t like it. It might seem inconsistent for a guy who is 6′ 4″ tall, 240 pounds and likes to stand and trade punches with the likes of Joey Beltran and Phil De Fries and this weekend at UFC 146 in Las Vegas, Shane del Rosario, but consistency isn’t something Miočić can count on as a professional MMA fighter. The sport of MMA laughs at consistency as every fighter, no matter how gaudy their record might be, is one punch away from victory or defeat at any time.
Miočić is a Clevelander with roots in Eastlake, Cleveland State University where he played baseball and wrestled, and now Independence where he fights out of the Strong Style Fight Team. The guy who wrestled at 197 pounds in college doesn’t have to watch his diet much anymore, except to keep weight on. Even as big and powerful as Stipe Miočić is, he is somewhat undersized in the heavyweight division of the UFC that maxes out at 265 pounds. That’s 25 pounds heavier than Stipe, but considering the division has had giants like former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar who walked around about 280 pounds before cutting to 265, it can be a considerable difference.
As a result, Miočić is one of the guys who eats to keep some weight on as opposed to dieting to keep weight off. Still, he says he tries to make it healthy food and joked about the mere prospect of eating fast food.
For Stipe Miočić, extra weight means there’s less of a chance that he gets pushed around during a fight. Then again, if he continues to start as fast as he did against Sunderland England’s Phil De Fries this past February, nobody will have a chance to push him around anyway. Miočić took a couple shots from the taller, younger Brit, before landing a right hand that knocked De Fries to the mat. Another flurry of punches caused De Fries to curl into a ball and cover up and where he was eventually deemed finished by the referee. Oh yeah. This was after only 43 seconds had expired in the first round.
All said and done, Miočić’s months and months of training while also working part time as a firefighter paid off. Fighters and fight fans like to hope there’s an inverse relationship between the hours of training and the seconds it takes to finish a fight in the octagon. It worked out that way last time for the Clevelander who says he’ll never leave the city. He claims to love the town and all its sports teams, but you wonder how he finds the time to follow along between working and working out twice a day for long hours.
This weekend, Miočić’s matchup with Shane Del Rosario is going to be a tough test to be sure. Del Rosario is 11-0 in his MMA career including his last three fights in Strikeforce. A former kickboxer out of Irvine California, Shane Del Rosario hasn’t fought since February 2011 due to injuries sustained after getting hit by a drunk driver, but his experience dating back to 2006 is considerable.
Miočić and Del Rosario are in similar circumstances in the UFC. They’re both pretty quick, athletic guys with plenty of punching power. They are both undefeated with hopes of getting title shots. If singular focus has anything to do with it, Miočić might just have an advantage this weekend. When I spoke to him, he wasn’t talking much about strategy. He wasn’t talking about much of anything other than “getting that W.”
That might seem trite or cliché, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it didn’t come off as anything other than extreme focus and determination. No matter where the fight goes and no matter what Stipe Miočić must do to win he is driven and prepared to do it. As an outsider who watches the UFC, it seems like every fighter feels that way going into every fight. But coming off a victory where Stipe Miočić defeated Phil De Fries in just 43 seconds while also scoring the Knockout of the Night it’s hard to doubt his focus and humble confidence.
Forget any kind of journalistic neutrality. I’ll be rooting hard for Stipe this weekend. He’s put in the time. He’s put in the effort. He’s one of us.
How you can see the event:
You can catch the fight on Pay Per View this Saturday May 26th at 10 PM. The main event has UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos defending his title against Frank Mir. The card also features former champ Cain Velasquez looking to get back on the winning track against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
If you don’t want to pony up for the PPV, you can head to the “Official Watch Party” (according to Miocic’s twitter) at Champps in Valley View. Other than that, you can go to most Buffalo Wild Wings to watch with some fellow Clevelanders. I know it will be shown at Buffalo Wild Wings in Aurora/Bainbridge, as well as the ones in Broadview Heights, Lyndhurst, and Strongsville.
You can check the full listing of bars at UFC’s webpage.
- pronounced Stee-pay Me-oh-chitch [back]