No fighter likes to lose. But for Stipe Miocic, the UFC heavyweight champion, avoiding defeat ahead of his third successful title defense on Jan. 20 took on new meaning with the knowledge he’ll become a father to a baby girl later this year.
“I wouldn’t want her to look at me like I’m a loser,” Miocic told amNewYork on Tuesday in lower Manhattan. “I want to be a winner.”
The expectant father — who already pictures himself intimidating his unborn daughter’s potential boyfriends one day like Martin Lawrence in “Bad Boys 2” — can extend his UFC record for consecutive title defenses on July 7 against current light heavyweight kingpin Daniel Cormier. To promote the clash of champions, Miocic (18-2) and “DC” serve as opposing coaches on the latest season of the UFC’s long-running reality series “The Ultimate Fighter.” The season, featuring all undefeated lightweight and featherweight fighters, premieres Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1.
Initially, Miocic wasn’t sure about the timing of the fight or the filming of the show. His wife, Ryan, is due to give birth shortly after the UFC 226 fight in Las Vegas. Moreover, the 35-year-old was required to spend a month away from his Cleveland-area home in Vegas and leave behind his pregnant spouse, two dogs and separate career as a firefighter and paramedic.
After clearing the opportunities with his wife and chiefs — plus conferring with Cormier (20-1, 1 no-contest) — the wheels were put in motion for one of the biggest MMA bouts of the year.
“It’s going to be an amazing fight,” Miocic said. “We’re going to go out, and we’re gonna throw down. That’s how he rolls; that’s how I roll. It’s going to be an awesome night.”
Although Cormier is listed at five inches shorter and cuts down to the 205-pound limit — 41 pounds less than Miocic weighed when he topped Francis Ngannou in January — for his own title bouts, the heavyweight titleholder is wary of his well-rounded opponents toughness and Olympic wrestling pedigree. Miocic, a former wrestler and baseball player at Cleveland State, also notes DC was unbeaten at heavyweight before dropping down to light heavyweight.
“He brings a lot of different things I haven’t seen before,” Miocic said, “but he hasn’t seen a lot of things I do, either.”
Coaching on “TUF” was an almost entirely new experience, but its one from which Miocic said he learned a great deal. He admits it was tough not having his head coach and “BFF” Marcus Marinelli with him. Harder still was being away from his wife, although she was able to make a few trips out to see him during filming. He also missed his beloved canines Primo, a Cane Corso, and Mia, a Weimaraner.
“[Signing on for “The Ultimate Fighter”] happened so fast,” Miocic said. “… I would have driven down there [to Las Vegas] and took my dogs with me, but we couldn’t.
“It is what it is. I FaceTimed as much as I could with the dogs. I love my dogs.”