Stipe Miocic is an undefeated MMA prospect who two weeks ago won the heavyweight championship of a small promotion called the North American Allied Fighting Series. You've probably never heard of him, but you will soon, as he recently signed with the UFC.
Miocic is an exciting fighter who's finished all six opponents in his pro MMA career, and it's going to be fun to see how he performs when he takes a big step up in competition in the Octagon. But what really has me interested is the way the NAAFS reacted to its heavyweight champion leaving the promotion.
Sometimes small promotions try to keep their champions from leaving, signing them to onerous contracts that make it tough to leave if they want to jump to the big time. The NAAFS, however, released a statement praising Miocic for his accomplishment and the UFC for recognizing his talent.
"Stipe has worked extremely hard to earn his spot in the UFC and we are extremely happy to see him get his shot to compete against the worlds best fighters." NAAFS CEO Greg Kalikas said. "Stipe is undoubtedly a special talent and a quality human being as well."
That's exactly the way a small promotion should handle its champion leaving: A fighter leaving for the UFC is a good thing. It validates your promotion as one that grooms legitimate prospects. If Joe Silva sees your heavyweight champion and thinks, "This is a guy I want in the UFC," that validates your heavyweight belt.
Miocic is an up-and-comer worth keeping an eye on. So is the NAAFS.