Stipe Miocic was ready to return to action much sooner than July.
Over the weekend, the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion publicly called to fight the winner of UFC 285’s main event between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane, however Miocic revealed Wednesday on The MMA Hour that he actually hoped to fight Jones for the vacant UFC heavyweight strap on March 4, only the matchup never came to fruition.
“They went with Ciryl,” Miocic said on The MMA Hour.
“I’m not a matchmaker, I can’t tell you [why]. It’s not clear. [The UFC] just went a different direction, so they said maybe July.”
Miocic, 40, is the most decorated heavyweight champion in UFC history. The Ohio native has racked up four combined defenses of the belt over his two title reigns, and his three consecutive defenses from 2016-18 are the most ever by a UFC heavyweight champion.
Miocic said Wednesday that he was disappointed to ultimately be the odd man out of UFC 285’s title equation, but he remains hopeful that he’ll get the next crack at the belt.
“Yeah, I definitely was [disappointed],” Miocic said. “[Jones] is great fight, it’s a great matchup for me, but at the end of the day, it’s not my decision unfortunately. We’ll just have to wait and see. I think those two guys are going to go out and have a fight, they’re both gamers, and I’d love to get a crack at one of those guys, whoever wins it.”
Now a full-time firefighter after working in a part-time capacity for much of his UFC career, Miocic has been out of action since losing the belt via second-round knockout to Francis Ngannou in March 2021. The result pulled Miocic into a 1-1 tie with Ngannou, and Miocic expressed disappointment on Wednesday that he’ll likely never get a chance to settle the series with a rubber match now that Ngannou has parted ways with the UFC.
Miocic said that personal matters in his private life have contributed to keep him sidelined since his loss to Ngannou. He declined to elaborate on the nature of those issues, however Miocic and his wife celebrated the birth of their second child in August 2021 and Miocic tragically lost his father this past November. Now, however, he’s ready to reenter the fray.
” I had a lot on my plate, man,” Miocic stated. “Just spending time with my family and had personal things going on that I needed take care of, but overall I’ve just been busy, and the way things shook out with these fights, it just didn’t happen the way it was supposed to. Although I had been ready, the phone never called.
” There were times they asked me to say yes. Then it was, “We moved in another direction.” What will you do? Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Miocic said he believes the chances he fights the winner of Jones vs. Gane next are “pretty good” and expressed an unwillingness to return for anything but a shot at the UFC heavyweight title. He declined to pick a winner for UFC 285’s main event, but admitted that Jones would be his preferred matchup between his two options — and that feeling appears to be mutual considering Jones’ recent comments about wanting to fight Miocic.
“I want to cement my legacy even more,” Miocic said, “so what better way to do it?”