It started against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 195, after Stipe Miocic delivered a knockout right hand. Miocic looked right at UFC President Dana White and yelled, “Give me my shot!” Miocic and many others around the UFC knew that the No. 3-ranked contender in the heavyweight division deserved a title shot. His time was now.
Miocic received his shot at UFC 198 in Brazil against Fabricio Werdum, who was fighting in his hometown. Not only did he finally get his title shot, but Miocic, fighting in enemy territory, broke the Cleveland curse and, with yet another right-hand knockout, captured UFC championship gold.
Maybe it was just pure talent. Maybe it was breaking Cleveland’s championship drought. Or maybe it was the fact that he finally got his shot. Regardless, all of it combined just seems to be too good to be true. They couldn’t write this story in Hollywood, but Miocic is writing it in Cleveland.
After he won the title, Miocic was awarded yet another championship prize. While the Cleveland Cavaliers were making their run to the eventual NBA championship, it was announced that Miocic would fight in his hometown of Cleveland in Quicken Loans Arena against Alistair Overeem at UFC 203.
It seems that everything in the sports world is trending up for the city of Cleveland — the team’s baseball team, the Indians, are even having an excellent season — and it started with Miocic’s win.
LeBron James may get all the attention in the sports world as the face of Cleveland sports, but Miocic embodies everything that the city of Cleveland and its residents are all about. For as much pain and agony as the city of Cleveland has endured, seeming to almost be begging for something positive to happen, Miocic asked for a shot, got his shot and delivered. Opportunistic, hard-working, a never-say-die attitude and passionate, these words describe both the UFC heavyweight champion and the city he carries on his back.
When the main event at UFC 203 takes place, it won’t just be a title fight. It’ll be a legacy and pride fight for Miocic. As much talk as there is for fighters from Brazil carrying their country or Conor McGregor and Ireland, Miocic carries Cleveland, but the pressure doesn’t seem to faze him.
There’s a chance Miocic could lose the heavyweight title in his hometown. There’s a chance the title he worked all his career for could only be with him for one fight. Yet, he’s strong, sturdy and sports an attitude that everything that is worked for is earned.
Miocic’s right hand has done the majority of the work to get him to where he is now. He’s a motivated fighter and, better yet, a motivated athlete from Cleveland. He is one of the most dangerous opponents anyone can face.