The champ is here. For the first time since the main event of UFC 220 was announced, UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic spoke on a wide variety of topics including his title reign, his opponent at UFC 220 Francis Ngannou, and former UFC heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. On the Joe Rogan Experience, Miocic said in regards to the Ngannou fight, “I’m excited, man.” “Listen, he’s a good, tough dude. I mean, he can bring the pain. So will I. But unfortunately, I’m not walking out without that belt. I’m still the champ. It’ll be ‘and still.” He continued by saying, “Every guy is different, every fight is different.” “Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my God, his punching power.’ Listen, there’s a lot of guys who hit hard. There’s no question, he does hit hard, but I’m not going to be stupid and put myself in a position where I’m going to get hit. I’m going to do things that make him feel uncomfortable, and I’m going to do what I’m going to do. I’m not going to sit there and let him do what he wants. I’m going to dictate what I want.”
Miocic vs. Ngannou will take place at UFC 220 in Boston. Ngannou is coming off a victory which featured a highlight reel knockout of Alistair Overeem. With a victory, Miocic will have the record for most successful championship defenses in the heavyweight division.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Miocic is coming out swinging here and I love it. For one thing, he’s able to do it in a very respectful way. That said, in this interview, he dumped a pile of ice on the Francis Ngannou fire. Ngannou has been the hot story since his spectacular knockout of Alistair Overeem at UFC 218, but with his comments, Miocic was able to shift attention back to himself. It’s clear that Miocic feels a bit slighted with all the attention that Ngannou has received recently and these comments put him back in the driver’s seat. Miocic sounds focused, serious, and ready to go for UFC 220. Can’t wait.
THURSDAY NEWS NOTEBOOK
–Machida vs. Anders to headline UFC Belem. This will be a middleweight fight and will take place on February 3rd, 2018. Machida has looked awful in his last three fights and was finished in all three. On the flip side, Anders is coming off of two victories of his own and will be headlining a UFC event for the very first time.
Heydorn’s Analysis: For me, this is it for Machida. He needs to win this fight or at least look very good to keep getting UFC opportunities.
–Tyron Woodley to have shoulder surgery. The UFC welterweight champion has put the needed shoulder procedure off long enough and will be undergoing surgery that will keep him out of action for quite a few months. To TMZ, Woodley said, “I’m going to go ahead and get this shoulder repaired.” “I’ve been saying, ‘You know what, I don’t want to get it cut on, I don’t want to get it repaired.’ But if there’s no fight that really makes a ton of sense for me to take the risk, to not be 100 percent with my shoulder, then I’m going to go ahead and have it repaired. They’re not going to do a full orthopedic rehabilitation, but they’re going to do a scope and they’re going to anchor down some sides. Then I’m going to get some PRP (platelet-rich plasma), some stem cells. I’m doing everything.” Woodley hurt his shoulder in his title fight against Demian Maia. He’d been holding out on the surgery due to a potential fight being on the table between him and Nate Diaz at UFC 219. That particular fight never materialized.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This is a good move for Woodley. Without any clear-cut opponents lined up or mega fights to be had, it makes sense to get the surgery done so he can be fully healed and ready to go when he takes a fight in 2018.
–Usman vs. Meek rescheduled. The welterweight fight between Kamaru Usman vs. Emil Meek has been rescheduled and will take place at UFC 220. Per MMA Fighting, the bout that was originally scheduled for UFC 219 will be moved due to visa issues on behalf of Emil Meek.
–Mark Hunt’s next fight is booked. Hunt will be back at UFC 221 in a fight against Curtis Blaydes. The Daily Telegraph was the first to report the news. UFC 221 takes place February 11th on Hunt’s home turf in Austrailia.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Hunt fights from here on out will scare me. Because of all the medical and health issues he’s said he’s facing, it will be hard to watch him compete due to the worry of something awful happening to him like a Ngannou-esque uppercut to the head.
–The ratings for UFC Fight Night Fresno are in. The show averaged 870,000 viewers for the three-plus hour broadcast. The show was headlined by Brian Ortega vs. Cub Swanson, a fight that Ortega won via submission in the second round. This was the best UFC Fight Night rating since September in which Luke Rockhold fought David Branch in the main event.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Certainly the lack of college football played into this number. That said, it’s still good and something to build off of. The UFC was going up against boxing on ESPN and the fact that they held their own is a step in the right direction.
–The judges and referees are set for Holm vs. Cyborg at UFC 219. Derek Cleary, Dave Hagen, and Chris Lee will be the judges and Herb Dean will be the referee inside the octagon. UFC 219 takes place on December 30th from Las Vegas, NV.
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