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UFC champion Stipe Miocic named MMA Junkie’s Comeback Fighter of the Year

The Cleveland native fought once in 2019, but it was memorable, as he avenged a loss with a TKO win over Daniel Cormier to regain the UFC heavyweight championship.

CLEVELAND — For much of the final quarter of 2018 and early months of 2019, Stipe Miocic looked like he might not get a desired rematch with Daniel Cormier for the UFC heavyweight championship, but when other plans fell through, that is exactly what the Cleveland native got.

Despite a slow start to the rematch, Miocic made good on his opportunity and avenged the loss with the technical knockout win over Cormier in the main event of UFC 241 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday, August 17.

In doing so, Miocic became just the fourth man to regain the UFC heavyweight championship after losing it, which earned him “Comeback Fighter of the Year” from USAToday’s mixed martial arts website, MMA Junkie.

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Following a 13-month hiatus from UFC competition, Miocic took a lot of strikes to the face on his way back to the UFC heavyweight championship. However, he withstood Cormier’s barrages of heavy-handed punches in the first three rounds and used a flurry of his own strikes to reclaim the belt.

Miocic landed nearly 100 fewer strikes than Cormier, including 60 less significant ones, but when it counted, he finished with a whirlwind offense and reclaimed the heavyweight title with a technical knockout victory.

After struggling to find his range in the first three rounds, Miocic picked his spots during the fourth frame and was sticking and moving, engaging with punches, including several left hooks to Cormier’s ribs, and getting out of the pocket before the defending champion could respond.

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Then, after a lead left hook to the body, Miocic landed a straight right hand to Cormier’s chin. That wobbled Cormier and Miocic moved in for the finish. Miocic landed three right hands before connecting on three short lefts while putting Cormier against the cage.

As Cormier slumped to the canvas, Miocic alternated right and left-handed punches and forced the referee’s stoppage with 52 seconds remaining in the fourth round.

It was the first time that Cormier was knocked out in a heavyweight fight, and Miocic’s comeback victory earned him a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.

The record-holder for the most consecutive successful defenses of the UFC heavyweight championship, Miocic improved to 19-3-0 in his professional career with the victory over Cormier, including a 13-3 mark since joining the UFC in 2011.

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