There’s no such thing as home-octagon advantage in MMA, but UFC 203 is about as close as it gets for Stipe Miocic. The Euclid, Ohio, native will defend his UFC heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem this Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
That has to be pretty cool, no?
“Yeah, I’m super excited, especially since I don’t have to travel,” Miocic joked on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney.
In truth, if anyone deserves home-octagon advantage, it’s Miocic (15-2). After all, he beat Fabricio Werdum in Brazil at UFC 198 in May to win the belt.
The last four months? Well, they’ve been hectic.
“I’m a lot busier,” the 34-year-old Miocic said. “That’s about it. It’s a good problem to have, though. I don’t mind it. It’s fun. I understand it’s part of the game and it’s obligations, so I’m okay with that.”
Saturday marks Miocic’s first title defense. He respects the heck out of Overeem (41-14), but he fully expects to retain his title.
“Alistair Overeem, he’s a tough guy, man,” Miocic said. “He’s one of the best in the world. Great kick-boxer, strong guy. But yeah, man, listen, he hasn’t seen anything like me yet. I’m going to walk out still the champ with the belt still wrapped around my waist. That’s my plan. Nothing is going to change that.”
The UFC 203 undercard features several intriguing fights, with Werdum (20-6-1) taking on Travis Browne (18-4-1) in a heavyweight match, Urijah Faber (33-9) squaring off against Jimmie Rivera (19-1) in a bantamweight bout, and CM Punk making his UFC debut. The former WWE star will face Mickey Gall (2-0) in a welterweight match.
“He’s a really great guy,” Miocic said of Punk. “I’ve talked to him multiple times. His head coach is real good friends with my head coach. He’s a good guy. I’ve talked to him multiple times. You can tell the guy trains hard. He wants to show people he belongs. I wish him nothing but the best of luck, and I think he’ll do well.”
Miocic also discussed his Cleveland teams, including the Cavs and Browns. Brandon Tierney wondered how LeBron James would fare in UFC. James obviously has all the physical gifts, but wouldn’t he be just about unbeatable if he actually learned technique?
“Anyone can be beat,” Miocic said. “It doesn’t matter. He’s strong and tough, but there’s always a way to beat someone.”
As for the Browns, Miocic has high hopes.
“I think they’re looking good,” he said. “I think they got a lot of potential. They’ve got some big receivers finally and I think the defense is going to show up. I think they’re going to prove a lot of people wrong this year.”