UFC on Fuel TV 5’s Stipe Miocic: “I’m Just Going To Get That ‘W’ No Matter How It Ends”
By Tom Taylor
The UFC heavyweight division, which is perennially short on contenders, has a new face rising up its ranks. It’s the face of Stipe Miocic, a former NCAA wrestling standout, a Golden Gloves boxing champion, and now an undefeated, 9-0 mixed martial artist. Miocic, who has won all three of his UFC outings, will make his fourth UFC appearance at UFC on Fuel TV 5, on September 29 in Nottingham, England.
Miocic will put his unblemished record on the line against the lumbering six-foot-eleven Dutchman, Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve. Now’ just two weeks out from fight night, Miocic agreed to speak with Full Contact Fighter about his upcoming heavyweight showdown, for which he says he feels prepared and excited.
“I’m doing awesome man, I’m loving this. I just can’t wait. Training’s been great. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff and I’m feeling ready for the 29th,” said Miocic. His optimism is not surprising, having recently ended the undefeated streak of highly-regarded prospect Shane Del Rosario at UFC 146, an event that was stacked to the brim with an all-heavyweight main card. Miocic put his opponent away with a second-round, elbow-induced TKO.
“It felt awesome. On such a stacked card like that, to get a win in front of all those people, it felt amazing,” Miocic said of the win. Even in victory, though, the heavyweight prospect is critical of his performance.
“Oh yeah, I mean I would have loved to finish it faster, but beggars can’t be choosers.” While it may be a stretch to refer to an undefeated fighter in the UFC’s hardest hitting division as a beggar, the first round of his fight with Del Rosario was fairly close. On several occasions, Miocic was blasted in the body by Del Rosario kicks, finally opting to take his opponent down near the first round’s conclusion. In the second round, Miocic landed another takedown, finishing Del Rosario with ground and pound from there. He says he didn’t shoot for takedowns to escape a stand up fight with Del Rosario, however.
“I saw an opening, and took him down. I mean he kicked me, but I feel like I was closing the distance on him, pushing him back. I felt comfortable in there with him on the feet, but I saw the takedown was there and he was open, so I went for it.” The win over Del Rosario earned Miocic his biggest fight yet: a main-event fight in Nottingham against Struve. Miocic will make the trip to England on the 24th of September, which he believes will give him enough time to shake off any jetlag.
“I’ll have a couple days to adjust, so I’m going to be okay,” he said. The challenges of fighting overseas aside, he will also have to cope with the spotlight of the main event for the first time. It’s an opportunity the thriving heavyweight is looking forward to.
“It’s awesome man, I can’t wait. It doesn’t get any better than that,” he said. As an undefeated fighter, every time Miocic steps into the cage, be it in the main event or on the undercard, he risks losing for the first time. Despite this, he says he doesn’t feel any added pressure as a result of his perfect record.
“I don’t know if it’s pressure really, because I don’t think anybody likes to lose, but if I just keep doing what I’m doing hopefully everything will keep falling into place.” When he locks horns with Struve, not only will Miocic have to cope with the lanky Dutchman’s tremendous reach on the feet, he will also need to be prepared for a grappling match with the wiry Struve. Struve, who owns 16 of his 24 career wins by submission, is no joke on the mat. Still, Miocic is confident in his chances in a grappling match with his upcoming opponent.
“I think [I’m ready to grapple with Struve]. I’ve been training for it, and I’ve got a good wrestling coach. We’ve got a good game plan as to what he might do and what to expect. We’ve been working on everything,” he said. So confident is Miocic that he admits that there’s a chance he might opt to take Struve down. “Who knows? We’ll see what happens in the fight. It’s MMA so you never know,” he said. As proficient as Struve has shown himself to be on the ground, the 24-year-old’s glaring weakness appears to be his failure to protect his chin, as he has been knocked out on several occasions. While Miocic admits that Struve’s chin will be his primary target, he is more concerned with getting the win at all costs.
“In a perfect world, of course [I’d like to knock him out]. I think everyone wants to get a knockout. But I’m just going to stick to my strategy, see what happens, and do what I’ve got to do to get that W.” In a division as starved for contenders as the UFC’s heavyweight division, if Miocic is able to best Struve, he may not be far off from a title shot. He is in no rush, however, and is content to fight whoever the UFC matchmakers put in front of him.
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I’ll just wait for that next phone call and they can tell me who I’m fighting next,” he said. “It’s whoever they give me next. I think every fight they give me will be exciting so it shouldn’t matter.”
Still, he admits that being talked about as an upper-echelon heavyweight is exciting.
“It’s great man. It’s cool to see all this hard work paying off. It’s fantastic.” As for whether he thought he’d ever be in such a position, his answer was simple: “Oh, not at all.”
Regardless of Miocic’s distance from a title fight, he is confident his fight with Struve will be a spectacle for fans in England and the world over, as he goes for the gusto from the get-go.
“It’s going to be an all out war, I think. We’re going to be throwing down, because we both definitely like to throw. I’m just going to get that ‘W’ no matter how it ends, Knockout, submission, unanimous, split, I don’t care. I just want the win.”