It’s one of the biggest and best fights of the entire year, and it’s one that’s currently surrounded by controversy.
That’s why Heavy wanted to sit down with UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic before his third fight against Daniel Cormier to find out exactly what the 37-year-old was thinking about the three most controversial issues surrounding his upcoming main event battle at UFC 252.
UFC 252 takes place August 15 at 10 p.m. Eastern time at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
Miocic had plenty to say about the three biggest controversies of his epic rivalry with Cormier. Here’s a look at the UFC 252 card, along with a deep-dive into Miocic’s comments on what’s ahead this coming weekend.
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UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3 Fight Card, Location and How to Watch
What: UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3
When: August 15
Where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
Time: 10:00 pm ET (Main Card PPV), 8:00 pm ET (ESPN+ Prelims), 7:00 pm ET (ESPN+ Early Prelims)
How to Watch: ESPN+ pay-per-view
The card listed below is subject to change.
UFC 252 Main Card (ESPN+ PPV)
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera
Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda
Prelims (ESPN) and Early Prelims (ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass)
Jim Miller vs. Vinc Pichel
Ashley Yoder vs. Livinha Souza
Chris Daukaus vs. Parker Porter
Felice Herrig vs. Virna Jandiroba
TJ Brown vs. Danny Chavez
Miocic Wasn’t All That Concerned About Being Stripped During Global Pandemic
Miocic said he was never really all that worried about being stripped of his title belt.
Never mind how ridiculous the idea put forth by both UFC president Dana White and Cormier was in the first place, Miocic said he never worried about that threat.
“All I worry about is winning, ” Miocic said.
Besides, it wasn’t like Miocic was avoiding the fight in the first place. Instead, the Cleveland-based firefighter said he had more pressing concerns on his mind during the sudden, shocking, and all-too-real global pandemic.
“It was a lot of craziness,” Miocic said.
Moreover, the UFC heavyweight champion didn’t have anywhere to train for the fight. Everything and everyone in Ohio was on total lockdown.
Miocic told Heavy, “I was like, ‘What do you want me to do? My gym’s closed!'”
But Miocic eventually did get the ball moving forward in a reasonable timeframe, and now the champ said he’s ready to show Cormier who’s boss in the heavyweight division.
“I figured it out. We put a gym in my basement. I got a great company to work with that helped me out with wall mats and heavy bags and stuff like that,” Miocic said.
And did he feel disrespected as the champion to be rushed like that?
“I guess,” Miocic said. “I don’t know. It’s not like I didn’t want to fight. It was just like ‘What am I supposed to do?’ It’s a pandemic!'”
UFC Champ Doesn’t Really Care About the Smaller Octagon
Despite reports to the contrary, Miocic told Heavy he had no concern over the smaller cage size at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
“It’s a little bit smaller, something like five feet,” Miocic said. “My cage at my coach’s gym where I train is about that same size, so I’ve always worked in that kind of cage.”
So the idea that a 20-foot cage over a 25-foot one is going to hinder the UFC champ from doing his thing against Cormier was completely shot down by Miocic.
And when he heard former Olympic wrestler Cormier say to bring his wrestling shoes for the third fight? Well, that didn’t bother Miocic either.
“He’s a great wrestler, and that should help him in a smaller cage, I guess,” Miocic said. “But we’re fighting, not wrestling.”
Besides, Miocic said he’s good enough at wrestling to hold his own where it matters most.
“I’m not an Olympic medalist, but I can hold my own,” Miocic said.
Moreover, Miocic believes MMA wrestling is way more important than the traditional type and said he reasons he has won more title fights than any other UFC heavyweight champion because he has the skills in all the most important aspects of MMA, which includes wrestling.
“Like I said, it’s a fight, not a wrestling match,” Miocic said. “It should be interesting.”
Miocic Responds to Controversial Eye Pokes in First and Second Fights
Miocic suffered eye pokes in both of the previous fights. After the second fight, Miocic even ended up needing surgery to attach a torn retina in his left eye.
Eye pokes are not supposed to be part of MMA, but it’s a frequent occurrence because of the interchanges made between punching and grappling that happen all during the fight.
In short, Miocic refused to worry about past fouls heading into his third fight against Cormier.
“Those eye-pokes probably didn’t help me, but getting punched in the face with a couple of them didn’t help at all,” Miocic said.
Moreover, Miocic said he wasn’t all that interested in the conspiracy theories about whether it was secretly part of Cormier’s gameplan.
“He says they’re accidental, so I guess I believe him,” Miocic said. “We’ll see if he does it next fight.”
True to form, of course, arguably the most decorated UFC heavyweight champion in history said he was less focused on what his opponent does or doesn’t do in the next fight and more honed in on what he can control.
“Honestly, I’m just going to do my thing, and, hopefully, I don’t get eye-poked,” Miocic said.
So folks over on Reddit and other message boards might be riled up over the issues, but Miocic is not.
Miocic Plans Uncontroversial End to Controversial Rivalry
In short, Miocic sounded about as concerned about the three biggest controversies surrounding his massive UFC 252 main event fight against Cormier as a lion might be about a tiny bird sitting near it on a tree just singing its little heart out.
Sure, Miocic is aware of it. He was there when the UFC threatened to take his title belt away from him in May. He’s heard all the conspiracy theories about the smaller Octagon. He suffered all those eye-pokes in the first two fights and even had surgery to repair things.
But right now, Miocic has just one thing on his mind, you know, the way a lion might single-mindedly approach nabbing his next meal while that bird keeps singing all day.
“After I win, I will continue to be the heavyweight champion of the world,” Miocic said.
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