Even as the current ruler of the UFC’s heavyweight division, Stipe Miocic is hesitant to call his shots.
That said, if Brock Lesnar does decide to return to the octagon, Miocic is calling dibs.
Miocic appeared on a recent episode of Michael Bisping’s Believe You Me podcast and was asked what he feels should be next for him. At the moment he’s open to anything, whether it be a rematch with No. 1 contender Francis Ngannou or welcoming two-time UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to the heavyweight division.
Jones’ timetable for a possible move to heavyweight is unclear, but he has mentioned wanting to fight both Miocic and Lesnar if the opportunities were presented to him. Despite the fact that Lesnar has only competed once since the end of 2011 (a unanimous decision win over Mark Hunt at UFC 200 that was later overturned to a no contest when Lesnar tested positive for banned substances), he remains one of the most recognizable names in sports entertainment. Lesnar has been a top star in the WWE since the early 2000s and he also had a run with the UFC that saw him capture and successfully defend the promotion’s heavyweight title twice.
If it were up to Miocic, he’d have the right of first refusal when it comes to a Lesnar fight proposal.
“A hundred percent I think so,” Miocic said. “Listen, I just think about it more and more I do think 100 percent if anything I would get the Brock Lesnar fight first or be asked first. I didn’t know [Jones] called the shots. I didn’t know that.”
Miocic was tangentially tied to a Lesnar fight in the lead-up to his first fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 226. Lesnar was cageside to watch Cormier challenge Miocic for the heavyweight championship and when Cormier won, Lesnar entered the octagon to confront him. It’s unclear if Lesnar’s intention was to storm the cage regardless of who won, but in the end a return to the UFC fizzled and he continued to perform for the WWE instead.
With UFC President Dana White open to a Lesnar return, it’s possible that Miocic may get another chance to dance with “The Next Big Thing.” On the other hand, White has also said that Jones would not jump the line ahead of Ngannou, so it’s possible that Lesnar may have to wait his turn as well (or fight Jones for the opportunity to face Miocic).
Miocic defeated Ngannou by unanimous decision in their first meeting at UFC 220. Presented with the possibility of having to beat him again, Miocic explained how he would approach a rematch.
“I would say you go back to what works but you also understand that he’s gotten a lot better since the last fight, so you’ve also got to incorporate new things,” Miocic said. “That’s the way the game is. Honestly, if you take time off from this sport, people evolve so fast and they get so much better that they’ll leave you behind.
“You take a little bit from the last fight I think. You don’t want to dwell on it because that person’s gotten way better and they’re working on things that you did well against them. I think you do a lot more different things, maybe change it up, the things you were doing. The takedowns, maybe a different setup to get it there, or maybe this time I finish him with a rear-naked instead of laying on top of him like everyone thinks I did.”
Undoubtedly, whoever Miocic fights next there will be chatter of what the opponent means to his legacy. He already owns the UFC record for most consecutive and most total successful defenses of the heavyweight championship, so adding names like Lesnar or Jones to his resume will only serve to add to his surefire Hall of Fame credentials.
Even though Miocic prefers not to toot his own horn, he’s comfortable making a case for himself based on what everyone else was saying ahead of his trilogy bout with Cormier at UFC 252.
“It’s all they talked about the whole week,” Miocic said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Are you ready for the fight?’ They’d be like, ‘If you win this fight are you cemented as the greatest heavyweight?’ So I mean, apparently I am because that’s what everyone was talking about.
“Listen, I just want a good legacy. Not so much for the fighting part, but for my daughter and if we have more kids. I want to show them, listen, your dad worked hard for what he wanted and he got it.”