Ahead of the much-anticipated rematch between Miocic and Ngannou at UFC 260, Adam Catterall of BT Sport interviewed Stipe Miocic. While discussing 'The Predator's' chances of walking away with the title, the champ told Catterall that no other UFC heavyweight will become the champion until he decides to retire from the sport. Stipe Miocic displayed supreme confidence in his ability to beat not only Francis Ngannou but every title challenger that may emerge in the future.
"He's deserving of the title shot. Unfortunately, I am the heavyweight champion and nothing's going to change. It sucks for him, you know. He can wait until I'm done. Because no one's getting this belt until I'm retired. So I just need all of challenges and you know, I love it. I am excited, man. I just wish it was Saturday (fight day) already," Stipe Miocic said.
Two-time UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) is slated to defend his title against No.1 ranked Francis Ngannou in the headliner of UFC 260, which is scheduled to take place on March 27, 2021. The fight is a rematch of their first meeting in 2018 that Miocic won via unanimous decision.
Francis Ngannou has gotten better, but so have I - Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic is a +100 betting underdog heading into the UFC 260 rematch despite having previously defeated Francis Ngannou. The betting odds are a reflection of the popular narrative that revolves around improvements in Ngannou's game since losing to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis in back-to-back fights.
In a February 2021 appearance on YouTube show Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, Stipe Miocic said that although he is an aging competitor, Miocic has also made improvements in his fighting style. It is the part that is missing in the narrative surrounding the rematch.
"Francis (Ngannou) is a super tough guy. He's been knocking everyone out again and he's on a tear and unfortunately, he's gonna fight me again. That's bad part. He's definitely gotten better but so am I. I know I'm getting older but I've gotten wiser and I'm learning a few new tricks up my sleeve. (It's believed) You can't teach a new trick to an old guy which is a lie. I've learned a lot ever since that last fight which was a couple of years ago. It's the same outcome... I'm gonna walk out with the belt still wrapped around my waist, hand raised 'and still' (the champion)," Stipe Miocic told Renee Paquette.
Stipe Miocic's assessment of himself and Francis Ngannou is backed by how both fighters scored their recent victories. Since their first meeting in 2018, Francis Ngannou has defeated four opponents in a combined 2:42 minutes in the UFC octagon. Miocic, on the other hand, has spent 48:42 minutes during the Daniel Cormier trilogy and displayed the ability to improvise according to his opponent's vulnerabilities.
Although Francis Ngannou's wins are far more dominant in comparison with Miocic's wins over DC, very little of Ngannou's game has been witnessed in the UFC octagon. The narrative that the Cameroonian-French fighter has covered enough ground to beat a more versatile fighter in Stipe Miocic is a premature conclusion that needs to be kept aside until the fight ends.