Over the weekend, in the main event of the stacked UFC 211, UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic made the second defense of his title with a crushing, first-round TKO of Junior Dos Santos. This win also served as a bit of vengeance for Miocic, who gave up a close decision to Dos Santos when they first met back in 2014.
While revenge was certainly part of Miocic’s mission leading into this title fight, he and Dos Santos actually got along very well. As such, Miocic says he was hesitant to punish his foe any more than necessary. The champ explained this feeling at the UFC 211 post-fight press conference.
“I didn’t want [to hurt him] – I caught him with a good right,” Miocic said of the stoppage. “He fell. He wasn’t moving, so that’s why I looked at the ref.”
“But, you know, JDS is super tough,” he continued. “Look what he did last time. We went 25 [minutes], and it was just hell. I knew what the ref was doing. But [Dos Santos] wasn’t moving. I didn’t want to inflict any more pain if I didn’t have to. But it’s a fight. He would’ve been doing the same thing to me.”
Miocic then went on to credit his earlier fight with Dos Santos as a key part of his evolution into a championship caliber fighter.
“I thought about it all the time,” he said of his 2014 loss to Dos Santos. “But I also want to thank him because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here right now. He gave me that confidence I needed – that confidence I could beat anyone in the world. The confidence I can be the champ, I can be the champ for a long time. And like I said, if it wasn’t for my coaches over there, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
How long do you think Stipe Miocic will hold the UFC heavyweight title for?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/15/2017.