History was made in Boston on Saturday, January 20th evening as Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC heavyweight title for the third time against French-Cameroonian knockout artist Francis Ngannou at UFC 220.
Miocic had a big experience advantage heading into the bout, but Ngannou had looked unstoppable since entering the organization with six wins and six finishes since his promotional debut in December 2015.
Despite the fact that he was the betting favorite, Ngannou was gassed after the first round and lost in a lopsided decision.
In a post-fight speech, Stipe Miocic was asked if he believed he now deserved to be called the greatest heavyweight in Octagon history. (transcript via MMAFighting)
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) January 21, 2018
“F*ck yeah I do,” Miocic said at UFC 220’s post-fight press conference.
“No one’s ever defended it three times. I’ve done it and I had a killers row of fighters to get to it. I had a hard path to get to the title, and I’ve had a hard path to defend the title. I had top dudes. I had to fight (Andrei) Arlovski, then I had to fight (Fabricio) Werdum in Brazil in front of 45,000 people. Crazy. Next guy, (Alistair) Overeem, killer, K-1 champ, hits like a ton of bricks. Next guy, ‘JDS’ (Junior dos Santos), who I lost to. Now I got a guy who’s a phenom. Nothing’s ever easy. I know fighting ain’t easy, but I never had an easy road. Everything was hard.”
Considered the underdog heading into his third defense, Miocic is perfectly fine being counted out by media, fans and oddsmakers alike.
The audience showed their appreciation for both fighters with a standing ovation at the final bell, but the winner was clear as day. Miocic took the scorecards 50-44 across the board as the crowd sang “Stipe, Stipe, Stipe.”
“I felt that in the first round,” the champion explained. “I feel like he couldn’t put me away in that first round and I could see it, his will was dwindling away. He’s a tough dude, there’s no question. He’s really good, but I felt his will dwindling away. I could see it in his face. He couldn’t believe I was still there.
“Listen man, I’ve got the fighting spirit. It’s going to take a lot more to take me out. Ford Escort, Ford F-150, I don’t really care, I’m going to keep coming. He’s a tough dude, there’s no question, he’s got a great career ahead of him. He’s a tough dude, but listen, man, I’ve got that fighting spirit and I ain’t going to stop. Daily grind.”
Ngannou put on a brave display in defeat, but the night belonged to Stipe Miocic as he accomplished something that no other UFC heavyweight had ever done before.
“Now it means something to me,” Miocic said. “I beat the guy that everyone thought I couldn’t beat, so it made it that much sweeter. ‘This guy’s a phenom, he’s one-in-a-million, blah, blah, blah.’ Well guess what? He lost. He lost to a Midwest boy that’s 40 pounds lighter than him. And I’m the greatest heavyweight. I defended it three times. No one’s ever done that.
“It was the Stipe show tonight. It wasn’t about him. It was about me, because I’m the champ. I broke the record. I’m the best.”