Don't look now, but the UFC heavyweight division is leaving Stipe Miocic behind
If you look closely you can see him in the background, there in those photos from the aftermath of the UFC 226 main event, the ones that pop up every time we start discussing the seemingly inevitable heavyweight title clash between champion Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar.
It’s the only time the two have been in the cage together, so it makes sense that we keep using it, but it must sting for Stipe Miocic to look and see himself there in the background, already melting into the scenery, already in the process of being discarded and forgotten.
It’s not fair, as Miocic has pointed out several times. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The man who set the record for most consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses lost exactly one fight, and now the division is moving on without him.
Partly it’s his own fault. In the eight months since that night, Cormier has defended the belt once, Francis Ngannou has won two fights by TKO, Junior Dos Santos has won three straight fights – even Derrick Lewis has fought three times (losing two, but still).
What has Miocic done? Mostly he’s tried to tweet his way into a rematch with Cormier. He’s argued in favor of getting something “on the books.” He’s pointed out, politely but firmly, that it is complete and utter crap for Cormier to take these other, easier fights while ignoring him. He’s offered to step in occasionally to fill some holes in the schedule, but only if it meets his terms.
What it’s amounted to in the end is nothing. Miocic has not fought since that night in July of last year, while the division has trudged stubbornly on. Dos Santos is now right on the verge of title contention again. Ngannou is right there with him. If Alistair Overeem beats Alexander Volkov next month, even he could reinsert himself into that conversation.
On one hand, this ought to be concerning for Miocic. Clearly his status as a record-setting former champion isn’t going to be enough to guarantee that a title shot gets delivered straight to his door.
Then again, depending on how you look at it, this is also an opportunity. With so many contenders making themselves known, there are now a few different skulls you could bash in order to get yourself back in the mix.
Let’s be realistic: Cormier is not going to choose a rematch with Miocic as long as a blockbuster payday with Lesnar is still on the table. It’s hard to see how Miocic can blame him, since you know he’d probably do the same.
Waiting around for the weather to change is a good way to get left out entirely. He’d be better off getting back in the cage and reminding the MMA world that he’s still a very bad man.
Because, over time, people forget. They’re especially prone to forgetting guys like Miocic, who’s always been more impressive as a fighter than he is as an MMA personality. Whatever quality it is that makes people beg for more Diaz bros. fights even years after their last victories, Miocic doesn’t have it.
What he does possess is a set of skills that’s rare in the heavyweight division. If he doesn’t get back to using them, he risks letting people forget that he has them.
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