UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is looking for a new challenge when he makes his next title defense. Miocic is currently dealing with an eye injury. ESPN’s Marc Raimondi spoke with Miocic’s manager Jim Walter to discuss when he will return and what’s next for him. Regarding what Miocic wants when he returns Walter said, “After his health is cleared, we hope to have Stipe back in competition this year in a fight that makes sense and against an opponent that Stipe has not beaten before.”
In the past, Miocic had aspirations of crossing over to boxing to fight a boxing champion. Some may recall Miocic calling out Anthony Joshua for a boxing match around the time of Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor. Miocic manager mentions in an interview with Marc Raimondi that Miocic may look at a boxing fight with Tyson Fury. When discussing other opponents for Miocic, Walter said: “If an opportunity presents itself outside the UFC, Tyson Fury and Stipe spoke face-to-face in Las Vegas at the Conor McGregor fight.” While Miocic is looking for a new opponent upon his return, former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier wants to finish their rivalry.
When Cormier defeated Miocic by knockout in the first round at UFC 226 on July 7, 2018, he thought that by the end of 2019 he’d be retired from MMA. The hope for Cormier was one final blockbuster fight with former UFC heavyweight champion and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar before he could retire. While Cormier was looking to fight Lesnar, Miocic wanted to get a rematch with Cormier for the championship. When the Lesnar fight didn’t come together, Cormier fought Miocic at UFC 241 in what was supposed to be his last fight. However, Miocic beat Cormier by TKO in the fourth round and it set up a trilogy fight between the two.
Cormier has been training with the hope that he will get to finish the trilogy with Miocic. During a post recap of UFC Fight Night 166, Cormier discussed why he should get the next shot at the title and why the trilogy makes sense. When reacting to Miocic possibly finding a new opponent, Cormier said, “I fought him and I really didn’t have too. I was going to fight Lesnar and then they said DC… Lesnar ain’t fighting who do you want next. I said Stipe because he deserves it.”
Cormier then went on to say, ” I didn’t have to fight him, I could’ve left him just being a sore loser for more than a year. They gave me that option and I fought him, I ran it back. I think it’s only right that he runs it back.”
Miocic timetable for his return is still undecided. In the Raimondi interview, Miocic’s manager said, “Mr. Miocic’s health is his top priority. Until we are 100 percent confident — or at least remotely confident — his short- and long-term vision will be sustained, he will not be returning to competition.” In the meantime, the heavyweight division is developing multiple contenders that can fight for the championship and the rivalry with Cormier has still yet to be resolved. The UFC will have to make a decision on whether Miocic will face a new opponent, finish the trilogy with Cormier or possibly need to strip Miocic of the heavyweight championship.