On July 7, 2018, UFC 226 took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the main event, UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic faced off against UFC light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier.
The fight was for Miocic’s heavyweight belt, in which he lost, after being knocked out by Cormier late in the first-round. Since then, Daniel Cormier has defended the heavyweight belt and is in talks for another fight with current WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar. On the other hand, Miocic really hasn’t done much of anything besides call for an immediate rematch with Cormier.
So what should be next for UFC heavyweight Stipe Miocic?
Well, one thing should definitely be noted, he has the most successful and consecutive heavyweight title defenses in UFC history. Stipe Miocic defended his heavyweight title 3 times, Prior to that was 2, held by Cain Velasquez.
This is a statistic that should always be considered when talking about Miocic’s legacy and what should be next.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe that he should be granted an immediate rematch. Some may argue that he should because the UFC has done it for other champions, like Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Cody Garbrandt, for example. Although they have received their rematches, I have a counter-point for anybody making that argument. Out of those former champions received their immediate rematch fights, did the former champion reclaim their belt? No. If we are being honest, Joanna and Cody went in there and got dominated again, by their successor.
My point is, not all championship ‘upsets’ are deserving of an immediate rematch. Especially if you were stopped inside the first or second round of a championship fight. That just doesn’t warrant a rematch. And I think we all know that by now. Sometimes, champions can be simply outclassed by the level of competition coming up. This was the case for Stipe Miocic.
My opinion is this: Stipe needs to stop calling for the rematch with Cormier and get himself up off the sidelines. He isn’t doing himself any good by sitting out and being inactive. And I really don’t think that the UFC is becoming anymore enticed by him not wanting any other fight besides Cormier. I believe that Miocic should get back out there and take on a top contender in the heavyweight division. Personally, I would like to see him fight a top-5 contender and I think he is well deserving of that.
If I had to guess, I would think that Miocic, right now, is about two wins out from another title shot. And I have two top contenders in mind for who I believe he should square off with next.
#1: Derrick Lewis
A fight between Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis is what the heavyweight division needs right now, although Lewis is currently booked against Junior dos Santos. Both men are hard-hitting, fearless heavyweights who want to stand and bang. Really, what’s not to love about that? And the interest is already brewing, as we speak. #3-ranked Derrick Lewis recently did an interview, where he said that he would want a fight with Miocic, after his bout with JDS this Saturday. Lewis said that the UFC had actually offered him a fight with Miocic for January 2019, immediately after his loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 230. Lewis turned down the fight because of the short notice, he knew Miocic was a top guy and he wanted a full camp. Respect. Either way, the fight seems to be brewing already and I think it would be a very entertaining fight for the fans.
#2: Curtis Blaydes
A fight between Stipe Miocic and Curtis Blaydes would be an interesting fight for the heavyweight division right now. I say that because Miocic and Blaydes both have a good wrestling background. I believe the fight would be an interesting style clash, where you have two guys with good wrestling ability and stand-up game, too. I believe Blaydes to be less equipped in the boxing department, compared to that of Miocic but he does have some devastating leg kicks. Also, Blaydes is right there in the title picture. Blaydes is currently ranked #4 in the division. A win over a game opponent like Blaydes would move Miocic one step closer to his next title shot. Blaydes has a tough opponent ahead of him at UFC Nashville though, as he takes on Justin Willis.
All in all, Miocic just needs to get back in the Octagon and fight. He needs to move on and show the UFC why he’s still one of the best heavyweights in the world.