Stipe Miocic: “I Don’t Care If It’s A KO, Submission, Unanimous, Split. I Just Need The ‘W.”
By Tom Taylor
UFC 146 goes down on May 26, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will boast an all-heavyweight main card, kicked off by a clash between undefeated prospects Stipe Miocic (8-0) and his opponent, Shane Del Rosario (11-0). In a sport as unpredictable as MMA, unblemished records are a rare thing, and at UFC 146, Miocic will put his on the line.
Less than one month from the event, he took a break from his training to speak with Full Contact Fighter.
When the card was initially being constructed, Miocic was not a part of it. After heavyweight title challenger Allistair Overeem tested positive for elevated testosterone levels and was removed from the event, however, a shuffling of opponents followed.
In the wake of this shuffle, Del Rosario, who was originally scheduled to lock horns with Gabriel Gonzaga, was left without an opponent. Enter Miocic, who stepped in to fight Del Rosario just over a month out from the card. Miocic is undaunted by short window of time, however, and says training is going well.
“Oh it’s going great. I’m in shape, I’m still working out. I feel great. They [the UFC] gave me the call and I was ready,” Miocic said. “My coaches and I talked, we knew who (Del Rosario) was, and he’s a tough dude, you know? It’s a great fight for sure.”
Despite the shorter training camp, Miocic says he feels he’ll be prepared come fight night. While he is confident that his preparation will translate into success on fight night, Miocic understands the test that is ahead of him. With eight knockouts and three submission victories on his resume, Del Rosario wields an impressive arsenal of weapons, something Miocic will have to prepare for.
“He’s dangerous everywhere, you know. You’ve got to be careful of everyone you fight I think, but at the upper level especially they’re going to be dangerous everywhere. He’s got good striking, he’s got kicks, he’s good on the ground; he’s got a little bit of everything.”
On the flip side, Miocic believe he’ll have a distinct advantage in several departments.
“I think just my speed and stuff, and how I catch guys off guard, l will be at an advantage,” he said.
Miocic, who has secured six of his eight wins by knockout, has showcased his striking skills on several occasions. These skills can be largely credited to his history as a Golden Gloves boxing champion. His credentials in combat sports do not end there however, as he was also an NCAA Division 1 wrestler at Cleveland State University.
If he sees an opportunity to use his wrestling chops in the fight against Del Rosario, Miocic says he’ll take it.
“If it goes there—for sure, I’d like to do my wrestling, but when you’re in a fight, that can totally change.”
This fight will be Miocic’s third in the UFC. Del Rosario, however, will enter the UFC’s Octagon for the first time, as an import from Strikeforce. Miocic does not expect Rosario’s debutant status to make him any less dangerous, however.
“He’s fought in Strikeforce, so he’s fought in the big leagues before too, so I’m just going to take it in stride and just get ready for a three-round war,” Miocic said. “There are some phenomenal fighters from Strikeforce,” he continued.
Miocic has been training for this fight at Strong Style Fight Team, in Independence, Ohio. He has called Strong Style home for a long time and does not plan to move elsewhere anytime soon. He did however, briefly visit Grudge training center in WheatRidge, Colorado.
“We spent some time at Grudge training with Brendan Schaub and stuff, over there before his fight with [Ben] Rothwell. We were there for about a week, worked with him, and then came home. Then about a week later, boom, we get the call.”
If Miocic gets past Del Rosario, he will be encroaching on the upper echelon of the heavyweight division. He’s in no rush to break the top ten however, and instead plans to take his career one step at a time.
“I’m just going to keep training and getting better and wait for the call and they tell me what fight I’m going to fight.”
The all-heavyweight main event of UFC 146 will be the first of its kind, and will showcase some of the UFC’s best heavyweight talent. Some heavyweights, however, will not be included on this historic card.
Travis Browne and Chad Griggs fought one Pay-Per-View earlier, at UFC 145, while Mike Russow and Fabricio Werdum will be a Pay-Per-View late, at UFC 147. Given the fact that until the UFC 146 main card was shuffled, Miocic was not a part of it, he is grateful to be included now.
“It’s fantastic man, I’m so excited. I’m really excited and I’m just so pumped up. It means a lot to me. I appreciate the UFC and Dana [White] and everyone giving me the opportunity. I’m beyond happy, I’m so excited. It’ll be the first time I’ve ever been to Vegas too, so it’s awesome,” he said.
When it all goes down on May 26, Miocic expects his fight against Del Rosario to be extremely entertaining, and he’ll be gunning for a finish.
“It’s going to be a great fight. Fireworks are going to go off, and we’re going to come out banging. I’m looking to win every round. I’m looking to get a ‘W’ no matter what. I don’t care if it’s a knockout, submission, unanimous, split, I just need the ‘W,” he said.
While he is willing to accept victory by any method, Miocic would ideally like to end the fight quickly.
“Definitely quick in the first round for sure—think that’s everyone’s favorite way to win, but if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep working and if I get that opportunity I’m going to take it.”Miocic loves his job as a cage fighter, and knows that a victory over Del Rosario will allow him to keep it for that much longer.
“I just love the competition, man. It’s so fun. It keeps me sane and I get to do something awesome every day. You know, I was wrestling in college and stuff, and it keeps me out of trouble. I wake up in the morning, train, go home, do my own thing during the day, train again at night, go home, play some video games and go to bed. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”