MMA’s heavyweight ranks in the days of old were largely dominated by a slew of sluggish, unathletic, haymaker-throwing brutes who quite literally used their weight to push opponents around the cage and often couldn’t last much longer in a fight than it would have taken to drop his opponent – or be dropped – like a fallen redwood tree. The past several years have seen tremendous growth in the heavyweight division and have given way to a new breed of competitors who aren’t just physically imposing, but also very fast, well-rounded, and technical, with the likes of Cain Velasquez (9-0), “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (13-1), “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12), “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0), Cheick Kongo (16-6-2), Daniel Cormier (8-0), “The Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (18-5), and “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (7-2) leading the way.
Enter: Stipe Miocic (6-0). The undefeated Ohio native has been fighting professionally only since February 2010 but has already managed to cause a few ripples in the pool of talented new heavyweights. Miocic, of Team Strong Style in Independence, Ohio, has employed his brutal brand of striking to finish each one of his half-dozen opponents, just half of whom made it to the second round before suffering the same fate as those before them. On June 4 Stipe captured the first championship title of his career after defeating Bobby Brents (10-2) by second-round submission via leg kicks at NAAFS: Fight Night in the Flats 7. It wasn’t long after that the UFC came calling. Tomorrow night in a preliminary card match-up at UFC 136, Miocic will make his UFC debut against respected veteran “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (11-4) in what promises to be an unabashed slug fest. Just days before the biggest fight of his career thus far, MMA Gospel Editor-in-Chief Mallory Mejia had the opportunity to speak with Stipe on his transition to the big leagues and what he expects come Saturday night.