Stipe Miocic is Cleveland through and through.
The UFC heavyweight champion was born and raised in Northeast Ohio and, according to some folks both inside and outside the MMA bubble, kicked off the city’s championship run when he won his belt last spring before the Cavaliers won the NBA title in June and the Cleveland Indians won the American League pennant in October.
But Miocic made headlines recently when he said he’d rather have his next fight in New York over his hometown, where he defended his title in September.
“I love Cleveland, I’ll always want to fight there,” Miocic said. “But there’s a lot going on in New York. I’d like to go somewhere I’m not known as well.”
Indeed, Miocic moved through the streets of Manhattan on Wednesday night virtually unscathed, at least until he arrived at the fighter hotel where fans easily spotted and recognized the 6-4, 240-pounder.
Miocic is in town this week for UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, the first mixed martial arts event in New York City. The UFC will make its next trip to New York City in February, hosting UFC 209 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and Miocic sees that as a viable option if it’s offered to him.
“Yeah man, listen, whatever the UFC wants, I’ll be there,” Miocic said. “I don’t pick and choose, I’m here to have fun, I like fighting, that’s what I do, but that would be a fun fight.”
Miocic said he’s having a blast on his trip to New York. He’s been to Long Island twice before to train with Chris Weidman and Gian Villante, but Miocic said this is the first time he’s been able to explore the city. Weidman will be fighting in his backyard for the first time at UFC 205, and Miocic had a bit of advice for his friend.
“Just do your thing, man,” Miocic said. “At least you get home earlier and don’t have to worry about flying, but he should just go out there and have fun with it.”