When evaluating the UFC’s greatest fighter of all time, a few names instantly jump to the front of the line.
Georges St. Pierre likely tops the list in many MMA fans’ minds after his dominant run in the UFC’s welterweight division, along with a legend like Anderson Silva after his seven-year title reign in the UFC’s middleweight division.
As he continues his career in the UFC, former light heavyweight champion and current heavyweight Jon Jones remains a candidate, and would be a clear-cut favorite without the controversies that held him back in his prime.
And, even when removing the recency bias, the newly-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov deserves some recognition after a 29-0 career and loads of success at lightweight.
One name that doesn’t frequently get brought up in the overall G.O.A.T. conversation has simultaneously established himself as the “Baddest Man on the Planet” while breaking records in his division: UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
At 38 years old, Miocic has done it all at heavyweight.
He’s a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, and he broke the record for the most successful title defenses in the division during his first reign with the belt.
Over the span of three years, he had three separate battles with Daniel Cormier, a fighter who had the equivalent of two successful careers if you divide his UFC tenure into his run at light heavyweight and his time at heavyweight.
In the second fight of that historic trilogy, Miocic won the heavyweight title back from the man who took it from him. A year later, he successfully defended the belt in the trilogy’s third fight, and got the last laugh while thwarting Cormier’s plans to retire on top of the division.
From 2016 through 2020, he took out a who’s who of UFC heavyweight superstars. He beat Cormier twice, along with Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, and a rising star in Francis Ngannou in 2018.
Most importantly, he solidified his spot as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history.
Similar to the division itself, those words carry a lot of weight. But, Miocic did all that he possibly could to make the thought become a reality, and earned praise from those in his own division, as well.
“I think Stipe [Miocic] is the GOAT of the heavyweight division,” UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes said in an interview with MMA Fighting in February of 2021. “He’s gone pretty much through the gauntlet.”
A few years before Jones decided to make the jump from light heavyweight to heavyweight, and one year before Miocic’s successful title defense to end the trilogy against Cormier, the former UFC light heavyweight champion even admitted that Miocic reigns supreme in the division’s history.
“Stipe is hands down the greatest heavyweight of all time,” Jones wrote on Twitter.
Miocic is used to fighting to keep a specific title, usually in a physical sense with a literal title belt.
But, it looks as if the Ohio native has this subjective title locked down for the foreseeable future. In fact, he even claims the name himself, with “Greatest Heavyweight of All Time” sitting as the lone words in his Twitter bio.
And, even after all of the work Miocic put into his run in the heavyweight division, there’s still more that he can do in a busy 2021 calendar for the UFC.
Miocic is scheduled to battle Ngannou in a rematch for the heavyweight title in late March at UFC 260, just three years after their first fight in Boston in January of 2018.
If victorious, Miocic will likely be on a collision course for a dream fight with Jones for the heavyweight title in the latter part of the year. Miocic would either be approaching his 39th birthday in August for that bout, or fighting for the first time as a 39-year-old against what would be a 34-year-old Jones.
With a win in that fight, Miocic could emerge as a real piece of the puzzle when discussing the UFC’s greatest fighter of all time.
But, should he lose to Ngannou in March, or if he were to lose against Jones in the second half of the year, there’s no need to fret.
Miocic’s track record throughout the last five years speaks for itself, and win or lose in 2021, he’ll be able to place the title of “Greatest Heavyweight of All Time” at the top of his resume for years to come.