Agent says no timetable for return of UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic

Marc RaimondiESPN Staff Writer2 Minute Read

The agent for Stipe Miocic said Friday there is still no firm time frame for the UFC heavyweight champion's return to competition and that he could need additional surgery on his eye.

"Mr. Miocic's health is his top priority," agent Jim Walter told ESPN. "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. We have been working closely with a variety of medical professionals to help ensure that Mr. Miocic can return to competition -- whether it be in the Octagon or in the boxing ring."

Miocic was accidentally poked in the right eye several times by Daniel Cormier in their two fights. The most recent was UFC 241 on Aug. 17, 2019. A month later, Miocic had surgery to repair major damage to the retina. He has been wearing glasses ever since and was spotted wearing glasses last weekend at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.

Miocic had said Wednesday at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards that his eye was doing "much better" and that he had been cleared to fight.

Walter said a decision will be made in another few months about whether Miocic will need a second surgery.

Miocic is itching to fight, Walter said.

"Stipe is the ultimate competitor and wants to fight but is unwilling to jeopardize his health," Walter said. "He sustained multiple eye pokes and damage to his retina from his previous fight against Daniel Cormier. His priority is his health and vision, his daughter and his family."

The UFC wants a trilogy fight for the heavyweight belt between Miocic and Cormier. The two men are 1-1, and Cormier also wants it, saying that would be his retirement bout. Miocic doesn't seem nearly as keen in fighting Cormier again, he has said in multiple interviews.

Walter said Miocic and boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury met face-to-face at UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena, exchanged pleasantries and expressed interest in facing one another in boxing. A boxing match with Fury would be lucrative for Miocic, though it would have to be worked out with the UFC. There would also be less of a chance for Miocic to get poked in the eye, which likely will be a concern for him for the rest of his career.

"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," Walter said. "He is more than wiling to defend his belt. If an opportunity presents itself outside the UFC, Tyson Fury and Stipe spoke face-to-face in Las Vegas at the Conor McGregor fight."

Miocic (19-3) holds the UFC record for most heavyweight title defenses (three), putting himself on the short list of the best heavyweight MMA fighters of all time, if not at the top of that list. He held the belt from 2016 to 2018 before being knocked out by Cormier. Miocic knocked Cormier out at UFC 241 last year to regain the gold. Miocic, 37, owns wins over the likes of Cormier, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou.

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