Stipe Miocic claimed the UFC's heavyweight championship back in May 2016 when his right hand dropped Fabricio Werdum in Curitiba, Brazil. Miocic then went on to win three more times, setting the record for most title defenses in the division. The Cleveland native's reign as "The Baddest Man on the Planet" came to an end earlier this month when Daniel Cormier knocked him out in the first round. Longtime champions typically have had a chance at immediate redemption. Will that be the case for Miocic? Should he -- and not WWE superstar Brock Lesnar -- get the next crack at Cormier?
Okamoto: Of course. Is that even up for debate? We've seen the UFC grant immediate rematches in situations that were far less warranted than this would be. I've seen some argue he doesn't deserve a rematch because the fight was so conclusive -- a first-round knockout -- but that argument doesn't hold water for me. It's the heavyweight division. First-round knockouts are expected. The first fight was competitive while it lasted and a second fight could produce a different result.
Miocic has every right to demand a rematch, but unfortunately I don't believe it will happen. Brock Lesnar will be eligible to fight Cormier in 2019, and I don't see Cormier (or the UFC) putting that money fight at risk for a second fight with Miocic. This is a complicated sport. The UFC has an obligation to put together the "right fight" according to competition, but quite frankly it also has an obligation to put together big fights that will drive the sport's popularity and cater to its fan base. I support Miocic's take on the situation 100 percent. He's certainly not wrong. But if he doesn't get what he wants, it shouldn't surprise anyone.
Wagenheim: When the longest-reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history has a six-fight winning streak snapped in losing his belt, he obviously deserves a chance to get it back, right? Then again, Stipe Miocic wasn't merely defeated by Daniel Cormier, he was knocked out in the first round. Doesn't that change things?
It hasn't in the past with long-reigning champs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk lost her strawweight title to Rose Namajunas via first-round TKO last November and got an immediate rematch. So did Anderson Silva after he was TKO'd by Chris Weidman in 2013, dropping the middleweight belt. Why not Miocic, then?
Money, that's why. Cormier is 39 and wants one monumental payday before he hangs up the gloves, and Brock Lesnar brings a money fight as massive as his boorish persona. Problem is, this money grab is a stab to the heart of the sport, as booking Lesnar in a UFC title fight is a mockery. Zero victories in eight years. Two KO losses and a PED-fueled no-contest in that time. An ongoing USADA suspension. Once upon a time Lesnar wore a UFC belt, but these days he is nothing more than a 41-year-old WWE cash cow. Might as well call him the Not-So-Fabulous Moolah.
If Dana White and Co. were passing over Miocic in favor of Curtis Blaydes (unbeaten in his last six fights), Alexander Volkov (six wins in a row) or even Derrick Lewis (eight wins in his last nine), I'd shake my head at the Stipe snub and chalk it up to the promotion simply wanting new blood in the title mix. But Lesnar? How can the UFC ask us to respect its title belts when the promotion is transforming the biggest one of all into a cheapened prop for a pro rasslin' storyline?
Murphy: On paper, yes, Stipe Miocic would be justified in getting an immediate rematch. He defended the heavyweight belt in succession more than any UFC fighter before him.
The UFC never has been, never will be, nor ever should be a pure meritocracy. As a blend of promotion and sport, fighter marketability matters. Fights that fans -- especially casual ones -- will buy will always cut in line ahead of those based on divisional hierarchy alone. "Cormier vs Lesnar" would double the pay-per-view buys of "Cormier vs Miocic II."
Brock Lesnar's delayed eligibility for USADA testing and Daniel Cormier's desired twilight timeline may play in Miocic's favor; DC wants two fights before retiring on his 40th birthday in March, and Lesnar can't compete until January. That could open the door for a heavyweight defense against Miocic at the 25th anniversary card in November. But smart matchmaking would put Cormier in a less risky fight, assuming his timeline remains unchanged. And that would leave the otherwise deserving Miocic on the outside looking in.
Sandhu: Does a former UFC heavyweight champion deserve a rematch? Perhaps, maybe. Depends on the circumstances. Does a record-breaking former UFC heavyweight champion, who beat the who's who on his way to a title shot and title defense run, deserve a rematch? Without question.
If this was purely based on sport, purely based on meritocracy, then it's a no-brainer. Stipe Miocic would get to run it back against Daniel Cormier. But this isn't just about sport, it's also about entertainment, specifically as it pertains to how many eyeballs you can get on the product, in this case a pay-per-view. When Brock Lesnar enters the equation, then what you "deserve" goes right out the window and what's best for business takes center stage. As the song goes, "It's All About The Benjamins" and Lesnar is a money-printing machine.
Timing is everything. If Cormier wasn't considering retirement in under a year from now and if Brock Lesnar wasn't at play, this may have been pretty straightforward -- book the rematch. Unfortunately this isn't the case and Miocic is most likely going to be the victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.