It’s been a long, arduous journey, but the city of Cleveland, Ohio, finally has a championship.
With the Indians not winning the World Series since 1948, the Browns not winning a championship in the NFL since 1964, and the Cavaliers never having won an NBA title, Stipe Miocic should have a parade in his honor sometime next week.
The hulking Cleveland native did his best impression of Babe Ruth and called his shot months in advance, proclaiming that he would not only wrest the UFC heavyweight title from Fabricio Werdum, he’d do it by knocking out Werdum. In the main event of UFC 198 on Saturday night in Curitiba, Brazil, Miocic made good on his promise.
Miocic capitalized on a critical mistake by Werdum and decimated the Brazilian’s consciousness like a jackhammer through cement. Werdum chased after the taller challenger with a volley of punches, but with his chin held high and his posture leaning forward, “Vai Cavalo” ran right into a missile of a right hand. The punch sent Werdum to the canvas, and in a flash, the figurative phantom that has been looming over Cleveland was lifted.
“I wanted to put an end to the curse,” Miocic said at the post-fight press conference, referencing the unfathomable bad fortune Cleveland has had in sports dating back to the Korean War. “I just wanted to go in there and do my job. I didn’t carry the weight of Cleveland on my shoulders but I did want to end the curse.”
Miocic, who revealed at the presser that he will remain a fireman in his home city for the foreseeable future, said he isn’t worried about the suspected curse that the UFC’s heavyweight division has been maligned with. Dating back to when Brock Lesnar was the champ, whoever has held the title has been swamped in injuries and inactivity. Miocic scoffed at such a notion.
“I train too hard for that to happen,” he said. “I want to keep this belt for a long time. Cleveland has a curse with their sports teams but I will keep this for a while.”
The obvious next question is: against whom will Miocic first defend his crown? Werdum was adamant that he should get an immediate rematch based on his recent performances, but Alistair Overeem is fresh of a knockout of former champ Andrei Arlovski. For the new champ, it doesn’t matter who is next.
“I will fight whoever they put in front of me,” he stated. “I don’t care who it is or when it is. I just want to fight.”