Stipe Miocic has made it clear he’s not planning on fighting during the COVID-19 outbreak. But the heavyweight division won’t wait on him forever.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who addressed the champ’s recent interview where called an August return “unrealistic.”
Miocic cast doubt on a trilogy against Daniel Cormier because his Cleveland gym is still shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As a firefighter, he’s also on the frontlines in the battle against the deadly virus, and he’s putting his focus there as well as his family rather than worrying about fighting right now.
“I saw a quote from Stipe recently where Stipe said, ‘There’s bigger things going on in the world right now, fighting will be there forever.’ – it’s not true,” White told UFC Unfiltered this week. “Fighting will not be here forever.
“When you’re a professional athlete, your window of opportunity is very small. So, hopefully we can get Stipe back in there soon with Cormier and get the heavyweight division rolling.”
Cormier has anxiously awaited the opportunity to avenge a loss to Miocic this past August. After winning the majority of the fight, he ultimately succumbed to a series of body shots from Miocic that stopped him by TKO in the fourth round.
The heavyweights are now tied at one win a piece after Cormier knocked out Miocic in their first meeting in 2018.
The initial delay in booking the trilogy stemmed from Miocic undergoing eye surgery to repair damage done in his rematch with Cormier. He was cleared to return to training earlier this year, but then the 37-year-old heavyweight champion was forced back to the sidelines because of the global pandemic.
Since then, Miocic said he hasn’t trained at all, and he can’t say for certain when he’ll be able to get back to a regular schedule with the gyms in Ohio still under a lockdown order from Governor Mike DeWine.
Despite those obstacles, White isn’t interested in waiting to get the heavyweight division moving again, and if Miocic isn’t ready to defend his title, he appears ready to find someone else who is.
“I don’t think so,” White told Barstool Sports when asked about an interim title being introduced in the heavyweight division. “I think we’ll see a championship fight.
“Listen, fights can happen right now. You either want to fight or you don’t.”
When asked if a champion might be stripped of a title under these circumstances, White answered “possibly.” But he didn’t definitively say that was the plan for Miocic.
It appears the two sides will remain at odds as the UFC seeks to promote a string of cards this summer to make up for several cancelled shows earlier this year. Meanwhile, Miocic seems steadfast in his desire to wait until he can actually put in a proper training camp before returning to defend his title.