Heavyweight prospect Stipe Miocic earned the biggest victory of his career on Saturday night, when the 30-year-old battered Roy Nelson in the co-main event of UFC 161.
Miocic controlled the bout from its opening minutes, using fleet footwork and accurate combinations to sting his opponent while avoiding retaliatory fire. Nelson, meanwhile, appeared to fatigue rapidly, chasing Miocic around the cage to little avail.
“I caught him a few times. I think I wobbled him in the beginning, and I knew I belonged here,” Miocic told Fox Sports after his victory at MTS Centre in Winnipeg. “He caught me with one good punch, but I felt fine. I knew exactly what was going on, so i just spun around and was good to go.”
Miocic truly found his rhythm in round two, firing flurries that continually snapped Nelson’s head back. Nevertheless, in spite of the great punishment doled out by his opponent, the ever-durable “Big Country” continued to plod forward in search of a home run shot as Miocic tightened his attack in the third.
“I was being smart. I knew he was going to go for the kill,” said Miocic. “I was up two rounds to none, so I knew he was going to come take my head off.”
The victory returns Miocic to his winning ways after suffering the first loss of his pro career last September in a knockout defeat at the hands of lanky Dutchman Stefan Struve. Though difficult to swallow at the time, Miocic stated that the lessons learned from that setback helped him prove the bookmakers wrong and defeat the favored Nelson tonight.
“I should have been here in the first place. I had a fall last time, but it’s okay. It was a little trip. No big deal,” said Miocic. “I think everyone [changes mindset], after their first loss -- or any kind of loss. Don’t [try to] live up to the hype -- just fight.” With Miocic’s one-sided unanimous decision victory over the former IFL champion now secure, the Ohioan may soon find himself in more marquee heavyweight matchups, a prospect that suits Miocic just fine.
“I know how good I am. I know I can do [well] in this division,” Miocic said. “I believe I belong in the top 10, and I showed it tonight.”