‘The Rodney Dangerfield of the UFC’: Inner the neglected greatness of Stipe Miocic

11: 19 AM ET

  • Marc RaimondiESPN Workers Creator

LAS VEGAS — UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic has a gym within the basement of his Cleveland-field home, and each so continually his 2-year-primitive daughter, Meelah, will stroll over and hit the heavy web a few instances.

“Punch, punch,” she says.

That’s the extent of Meelah’s publicity to her father’s profession as a loyal athlete. Miocic and his wife, Ryan — who’s pregnant with their 2nd child, a son due in August — fabricate no longer allow Meelah to explore her father wrestle. They’re anticipating the loyal time — years within the kill — to keep in touch about the profession that will land Miocic within the UFC Hall of Popularity.

And when the event does fresh itself, Miocic plans to withhold it straightforward.

“Right here’s your dad,” Miocic said he’ll characterize the children. “He labored laborious, and that is where it bought him.”

It be an understated approach that defines Miocic’s profession, and it will most likely perhaps well well very correctly be why the appreciation of his work hasn’t but caught up alongside with his accomplishments. Whether or no longer it’s oddsmakers, former UFC champs or informal followers, Miocic would no longer get hold of the acknowledgement befitting basically the most appealing heavyweight in MMA history. Per chance by the time Meelah and her brother are primitive ample to study about their father’s greatness, his station will seemingly be stable.

Miocic has assign together an all-time enormous résumé. Beating Daniel Cormier in a trilogy wrestle at UFC 242 last August used to be supposed to cement Miocic as the heavyweight GOAT. He has double the preference of UFC heavyweight title defenses (4) of the closest within the reduction of him. And but, as UFC 260 nears, Miocic finds himself as the underdog — again — to Francis Ngannou, a man he has already dominated within the cage.

Miocic has been the making a bet favourite in correct two of his eight title fights. No longer less than one sportsbook has Jon Jones, who’s at risk of face the winner of Saturday’s most predominant event, as around a -150 favourite against Miocic. And Jones will seemingly be making his heavyweight debut.

It be a testament to how standard Cormier and Ngannou are with the making a bet public, said Caesars William Hill director of shopping and selling Sever Bogdanovich, who added, “I wager you might perhaps well well well construct a case [Miocic] is the Rodney Dangerfield of the UFC.”

Some athletes exhaust the “no admire” attitude as motivation. Miocic laughs and says he enjoys proving americans unfavorable.

Miocic has fought his 11-year profession while additionally being a section-time firefighter and paramedic in Valley Look, Ohio, a job he credits with conserving him grounded. When he retires from the UFC, he plans to spin beefy time on the firehouse. Miocic says when other folks he would no longer know demand him what he does for a living, he correct tells them he’s a fireman.

Miocic’s lack of self-promotion hasn’t harmed him within the cage, but it no doubt has positively bother him in phrases of popularity. A heavyweight champ is continuously viewed as a most predominant earnings driver for wrestle organizations, but Miocic would no longer test that box, and his social media profile pales in comparability with those of his chums. By process of Instagram followers, Miocic is sixth out of the 11 UFC champions, with slightly original titleholders Jan Blachowicz, Zhang Weili, Alexander Volkanovski, Aljamain Sterling and Deiveson Figueiredo the final phrase ones having fewer.

In interviews last summer season, a couple of previous UFC heavyweight champions downplayed Miocic’s credentials. On whether or no longer the Miocic vs. Cormier 3 winner would be even handed as the final phrase heavyweight of all time, Josh Barnett‘s acknowledge used to be a “resounding no.” Ricco Rodriguez didn’t assign Miocic in that class unless “statistics” got here into play. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum said former Pleasure and Strikeforce star Fedor Emelianenko is the final phrase heavyweight of all time.

“Stipe Miocic is a truly suitable fighter, 100%,” said Werdum, who lost the title to Miocic in 2016. “He’s the champion now. But all-time? No.”

Miocic is no longer as mountainous as Ngannou, who might perhaps well well well weigh around 30 kilos extra than the champ on wrestle night time. Miocic would no longer comprise the gift of gab esteem Cormier, who has parlayed his battling profession into a tv analyst role. Miocic would no longer comprise the knockout ratio of some heavyweights. All of those factors might perhaps well well well play into why Miocic’s achievements outweigh his hype.

The wrestle sports world is attracted to drama and extra. Six months earlier than basically the most appealing wrestle in UFC history — Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018 — McGregor used to be arrested for throwing a dolly at a bus Nurmagomedov used to be in. Belief to be one of basically the most talked-about fights in boxing loyal now pits trash-speaking, polarizing YouTube star Jake Paul against former UFC fighter Ben Askren, who has below no circumstances had a loyal boxing match.

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Stipe Miocic explains how he’s improved as a fighter since his first bout vs. Francis Ngannou and expresses self belief that he’ll capture their rematch on Saturday.

“[Miocic] does things the primitive-long-established ability,” said his longtime coach, Marcus Marinelli. “He gets his admire alongside with his mouth closed. He gets his admire alongside with his fists. … He’s below no circumstances wished to be well-liked. That’s no longer him.”

Miocic is no longer a enormous quote, and he embraces that. He acknowledges that speaking to the media is no longer his favourite thing. He prefers to let the UFC promote his fights, rather than generating his get hype.

It be doable that the correct appreciation of Miocic’s profession will come most efficient when he’s long previous, when others might perhaps well well well wrestle to reach the bar Miocic has space with sustained excellence.

“All americans would no longer get hold of their admire while they’re in there, while they’re battling, while they’re competing,” former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley instantaneous ESPN. “Muhammad Ali didn’t. He didn’t get hold of it unless afterwards.”

Time is ticking on Miocic’s profession. He’s 38 and getting into his 2nd decade of battling. But earlier than he’s done, he goes by map of what might perhaps well well well very correctly be his most appealing year. If he beats Ngannou, there is the highly anticipated matchup with Jones looming on the horizon.

Miocic said he’ll retire when he stops having fun — and said that has no longer took situation but.

“I am so proud of [my career], needless to direct,” Miocic said. “We now comprise the kind of mountainous family within the wrestle game with my coaches and teammates and my family and chums. It be superior. It be esteem a storybook, and I esteem it. We’re no longer done with it but, though.”

Legacy is extreme to Miocic, but it no doubt’s extra about the trek than the accomplishments.

“Always be an acceptable person, it would no longer matter what,” Miocic said he’ll characterize his children. “I desire them to grow up to be enormous americans and proper be form to all and sundry, with out reference to who it’s. I desire them to work laborious. The entirety is earned, or no longer it’s below no circumstances given.

“Laborious work pays off. I desire to present them that.”

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