Croatian-American heavyweight induces second defense of UFC title with first-round stoppage at American Airlines Center in Dallas
Defending UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic ran deuces wild Saturday night in Dallas, earning a measure of retaliation against former champ Junior dos Santos by slamming a jarring punch into the Brazilians left ear. The power behind the strike collapsed Dos Santos along the octagon fencing. He turtled up on the canvas and absorbed several more shots until referee Herb Dean jumped in to stop the fight at the 2:22 mark of the opening round.
The victory marked Miocics second title defense since capturing the belt against Fabricio Werdum last year, tying the record for consecutive victories by a defending champion in the UFC since the title was established in 1997.
Hes looking like the man, said UFC president Dana White. Clevelands killing it right now. Hes patently not the same fighter who opposed JDS the first time. Super athletic. He stays in the pocket and punches with big guys. Lightning fast. Hes a complete fighter and a really good athlete.
If heavyweight parity has become the story of the division over the years, Miocic is seeking to change that at a time when the UFC class seems ripe for dominating.
I am the best in the world, proclaimed Miocic following his 14 th stoppage in 17 career wins.
Miocics quick finish punctuated the point of his improvement since losing a unanimous decision to Dos Santos in 2014. A redux of their grueling tournament did not materialize on Saturday. Instead, the opening round KO marked Miocics fourth straight first-round stoppage win, the best current streak of any fighter on the UFC roster.
The heavyweights seemed well matched based on the result of their first contest. The five-round affair three years ago stood out among the most competitive heavyweight brawls in recent memory and it was Miocics intention to prove that a wide gulf had developed between the champion and the last human to beat him.
Dos Santos( 18 -5) targeted Miocics lead left leg with low kickings in the opening couple minutes. Several landed with full force and had the effect of obstructing the 34 -year-old champs movement.
Everything was working very well the way we expected, said Dos Santos, who felt he was a couple minutes from objective it. We knew hes a very tough guy who would walk forward every time.
Miocics shin and left thigh took the brunt of the damage, prompting the Cleveland fighter to pressure in search of a right straight-out rather than remain at distance and absorb more damaging leg kicks. Miocic( 17 -2) pressed the issue before determining a home for the fight-ending right, which he explained was a focus of his preparation for the rematch.
He did very well actually, said the challenger. Heavyweights, human, its tough. Im sad, of course. Id like to become the champion. But if Im not the champ Im glad this guy is the champ. Hes a really nice guy. He deserves that. Tonight was his night. Hes the real bargain. He has really heavy hands. So the route I see, hes going to continue to grow in this division and become one of the greatest.
Hes on the way to being the best ever. I admire him. He represents very well the spirit of the sport.
Miocics quick knockout capped a successful and violent return to Dallas for the UFC, where the evenings pay-per-view card played out in front of 17 -8 34 fans inside the American Airline Center.
Two years ago at UFC 185, the promotions strawweight title was contested for in Dallas. Polands Joanna Jdrzejczyk dominated Carla Esparza that night to capture the belt, and she has not come close to relinquishing it since. That held true as Joanna Champion retained the belt for the fifth time in high fashion, cruising past Brazils Jessica Andrade to capture a lopsided unanimous decision( 50 -4 5, 50 -4 5, 50 -4 4 ).
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