It’s been two-and-a-half years since Stipe Miocic last fought inside the octagon and if he’d never competed again, to many observers, he’d be the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time.
But the way his last fight ended – folded by one Francis Ngannou punch to lose his title in March 2021 – wasn’t the best way to end a Hall of Fame career.
And so Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC) is coming back, and his return is on the horizon at UFC 295 where he’ll challenge heavyweight champion Jon Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC) in the night’s headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York. For a man who’s been involved in plenty of big fights, this is the biggest of Miocic’s career.
At 41, he didn’t have to return to solidify his legacy. Given it’s his longest layoff at this late stage of his career, why come back now?
“There’s a lot of reasons,” Miocic told MMA Junkie Radio. “One, I want to fight the best. I’m a competitor. I love to compete, and I love fighting. I’m still having fun.
“Two, my last fight didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. I’m ready to bounce back and get that win.”
Jones, also a former two-time light heavyweight champion, doesn’t truly have a loss on his record during his illustrious 15-year career against a who’s who of opponents. Jones made things look easy in his heavyweight debut this past March when he submitted Ciryl Gane in two minutes to claim the title vacated by Ngannou.
If Miocic can pull off the upset (he’s around a 3-to-1 underdog), perhaps then he could ride off into the sunset as the undisputed heavyweight GOAT.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.