Stipe Miocic made his case as the best heavyweight ever when he defeated Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision at UFC 252 on Saturday at the Apex.
Afterward, the champion had only one thing on his mind. And it wasn’t his next opponent.
“I just want to go home and hang out with my wife and daughter, maybe spend some time in the pool,” the Ohio native said. “Plus, it’s my birthday next week, so I’m going to drink a bunch of Modelos.”
Miocic, who turns 38 on Wednesday, has won eight of his past nine fights, an absurd run for someone competing against elite competition in the heavyweight division, where one punch often changes the complexion of fights.
The champion, who still works as a firefighter, never has been big on self-promotion. But he admits there is something special about being discussed as the best heavyweight in UFC history.
“Everyone’s talking about legacy,” he said. “The only reason I’m happy to cement my legacy is to show my daughter — and, if we have more kids, to show them — that hard work pays off.”
Miocic probably next will fight top contender Francis Ngannou, a feared slugger whom Miocic neutralized in their first meeting in January 2018. That fight most likely will be this year.
But a new challenger might have emerged, one who could seal Miocic’s legacy beyond all doubt.
Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, considered perhaps the best fighter in UFC history, teased Saturday night on Twitter a move to heavyweight to challenge Miocic.
“I’ll fight anyone,” Miocic said. “I love what I do.”
It certainly would be the biggest possible payday. And UFC president Dana White said he’s interested in booking the fight but that Jones will have to wait his turn.
“Francis is definitely next,” White said. “You can’t jump over him. He’s been out there destroying everybody. But, yeah, Jon going to heavyweight is very interesting.”
Cormier, who said that Saturday’s fight would be the final one of his career, did not speak to reporters because he was sent to a hospital for what reportedly was diagnosed as a torn cornea from an eye poke in the third round.
In a brief interview on the broadcast before he was transported, Cormier left the door slightly ajar for a return.
“I’m not interested in fighting for anything but titles, and I don’t imagine there’s going to be a title in the future,” he said. “So that’ll be it for me. I’ve had a long run. It’s been great. I just fought my last fight for a heavyweight championship. It was a pretty good fight.”
Bonuses for the pay-per-view event at the Apex:
Fight of the night: Kai Kamaka vs. Tony Kelley
Performances of the night: Daniel Pineda, Virna Jandiroba