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Stipe Miocic wants to retire on top, but that won’t be any time soon: ‘I’m stronger than I’ve ever been’

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In theory, Stipe Miocic could complete a run in his next two fights combined with his two most recent wins that would almost certainly help him attain the moniker of the greatest heavyweight in the history of the sport.

Arguably, the reigning UFC heavyweight champion could already place himself alongside another legend of the sport in former PRIDE king Fedor Emelianenko, but there are many who believe the Russian’s eight year undefeated run will be tough to topple.

That said, Miocic already holds the record for the most title defenses in UFC heavyweight history, and if he’s able to vanquish terrifying knockout artist Francis Ngannou this weekend, that would make him 2-0 against a fighter who has dispatched his last four opponents in less than three minutes of total time in the cage.

A win over Ngannou would then move Miocic into a fight against former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who has already been declared the next No. 1 contender in the division. While he’s never fought at heavyweight before, Jones is widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters to ever compete in the sport and Miocic adding that win to his resume would put him into a league of his very own.

Assuming all of that happens — and Miocic is the last person on Earth to think that far ahead — he would have conquered just about every viable challenge that heavyweight could throw at him. But as much as he wants to walk away as champion, even that wouldn’t be enough to satisfy him.

According to Miocic, who has never felt the need to measure his own success, he’s still in the prime of his career. So why would he go anywhere else but back to the gym and then back to the cage again?

“Of course, who doesn’t want to go out on top?” Miocic said in an interview with MMA Fighting ahead of UFC 260. “Once I get to that point, but right now, I’m having fun. I like winning, and I’m going to keep winning.”

At 38, Miocic would seem to be aging toward the tail end of his career. But heavyweights also have traditionally enjoyed a little more longevity than fighters in some of the smaller weight classes.

That might come down to less damage sustained over time, or in many cases not suffering through weight cuts that most fighters endure in every other division. Whatever the case may be, Miocic honestly believes at this moment in time, he’s the best he’s ever been, and that’s why there’s no end in sight when it comes to his career.

“I definitely feel that way,” Miocic said about being in the prime of his career right now. “I’m getting better. I’m a little bit lighter, but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. I’m in better shape. I’m more efficient. It’s the good thing about heavyweights, they have more longevity I feel like.”

In the rare moments when Miocic does decide to talk about his place in history, it usually comes after he’s holding his hands high in victory following another title fight win.

The same applies to any future fights, because for him, nothing else matters until he leaves the octagon with the UFC heavyweight title around his waist.

“All I’m worried about is Francis,” Miocic said. “That’s all I care about. Once we get to that, we’ll take care of it.”