History. Its definitions are many. It could be that class you were forced to take in high school yet secretly loved. It could be referring to the chances of something never happening again. For the most part, history is a reflection on the events of the past, whether it be 2,000 years ago or two years ago. The most compelling part of history is that it happened and it cannot be changed. Ever. The same cannot be said for records. Records are set, but they’re intended to be broken.
The UFC’s heavyweight division has an interesting record that has never been broken. No champion has ever defended the title more than twice, dating all the way back to the division’s inception. Mark Coleman? Never defended. Maurice Smith? Once. Randy Couture, the first time? Stripped of the title. Bas Rutten? Vacated a month after winning. Kevin Randleman? Once. Randy Couture, the second time? Twice, both against Pedro Rizzo. Josh Barnett? Stripped four months after winning. Ricco Rodriguez? Never defended. Tim Sylvia, the first time? Once and subsequently stripped. Frank Mir? Zero, due to inactivity. Andrei Arlovski? Once. Tim Sylvia, the second time? Twice. Randy Couture, the third time? Once.
Enter Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez “shocked” the world by defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 in October 2010. It seemed that a new era was upon the MMA world. The UFC had just secured the deal with Fox, and later that year, Velasquez met Junior dos Santos in the first UFC main event ever broadcast on Fox. In real shocking fashion, it only took dos Santos 64 seconds to dethrone Velasquez. It eventually set up a rematch and third bout between the two. Velasquez would regain his title and retain it twice before falling to Fabricio Werdum via a wicked guillotine. The Werdum win ended the circle of heavyweight limbo that had been created where Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, dos Santos and Velasquez were the only ones fighting for the strap.
Then came Stipe Miocic.
Miocic’s earned his title shot after a thrilling five-round war with dos Santos and hard-fought wins over Mark Hunt and Arlovski. Miocic devastated the Brazilian fans just minutes into the first round when he finished Werdum with punches. It seemed it might be the beginning of a new era, but history hasn’t been kind to the champions of this division. However, Miocic continues to defy the odds. He knocked out Alistair Overeem in the first round in Miocic’s hometown of Cleveland. He then defeated dos Santos with another first-round TKO finish.
It’s time for a new era, and Miocic is that man to bring it in. That’s why a showdown between Miocic and Velasquez is vital to the division.
If Miocic scored a win over Velasquez, then it not only cements his legacy as a current champion but also his legacy in the record books. Miocic will always be known as the first man to defend the heavyweight title more than twice. His opposition has been some of the toughest in the world, and Velasquez will be no different, even with an extended layoff. This would be the chance for Miocic to become a part of history, and to quote Miocic himself when it comes to no champion ever defending the belt more than twice, “I’m going to change that, because I’m not giving this up. I’ve worked way too hard and sacrificed way too much to give it up.”
Unfortunately, UFC 216, the rumored landing spot for this fight, is quite far away and a lot could happen in the meantime. The UFC needs to make sure to have a backup plan for this title fight, for Miocic’s sake more than anything, because the fans, the fighters and the division need this fight. It’s time for the record to be broken.