Thursday, July 25, 2024

Stipe Miocic says he’s not holding up heavyweight division for Jon Jones bout, sympathizes with Tom Aspinall

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It’s been over a year since UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic was first announced at International Fight Week 2023. The legendary champions target a November date in New York City, one full year after their previous Madison Square Garden headliner was canceled. The dream match is still a priority for the promotion but parity in the heavyweight division has since become an issue.

Tom Aspinall acquired the interim heavyweight title at UFC 295, defeating Sergei Pavlovich, after an injured Jones pulled out of the Miocic fight. The UFC could have petitioned for Miocic vs. Aspinall at UFC 295, but they pulled Miocic to preserve the original bout. UFC president Dana White insists Aspinall must wait for Jones vs. Miocic despite Aspinall’s meritocratic claim to a title unifier. Aspinall was given two choices: wait indefinitely or defend the interim title. A frustrated Aspinall eventually conceded and will stake his interim title against Curtis Blaydes at UFC 304 on July 27, only the fourth time in UFC’s 31-year history that an interim title will be defended.

“I get it. I’d feel the same way but I’m not taking anything away from him,” Miocic told CBS Sports. “The UFC can do what they want. It is what it is. There’s only one guy I want to fight, it’s Jon Jones. But at the same time, the UFC can pick who they want. 

“What am I supposed to do? I’m not holding up the division like everyone says. I don’t care. Do what you want and stop crying. I’m not saying he’s crying. I’m just saying like fans and stuff like that.”

Miocic’s resume gives him a solid case for an immediate title shot in most situations. Miocic holds the record for most consecutive and most overall UFC heavyweight title defenses. He is also tied with Randy Couture for most wins in UFC heavyweight title fights. But he’s coming off a three-and-a-half-year layoff against arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time, five years his junior. It’s a tall task, but Miocic says it’s exactly why he wants to see it through.

“Everyone thinks he’s going to beat my ass,” Miocic said. “I don’t like being told that. I like shutting people up. He’s beatable. I know he is. Anyone is beatable and I will be the first to do this.

“I am very competitive and will never lose it. It’s in my DNA. I love what I do and have the best coaches in the world to prepare me whenever the fight comes up.”

Check out the full interview with Stipe Miocic below.

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