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The UFC heavyweight division is a difficult place to build and maintain a winning streak. It's even more difficult to become champion and defend the belt. With the power that the big men possess, nearly everyone in the division has one-punch knockout power.
That is why Stipe Miocic‘s rise to the top of the heap has been so special.
He faced a rocky road to the title, having faced many of the top contenders, and tasted the sourness of setbacks. Miocic persevered, owing much of his approach to his stoic background bred from growing up in Cleveland.
Rebounding from a 2014 loss to former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos with back-to-back wins over Mark Hunt and another former UFC champion in Andrei Arlovski, Miocic finally got his shot at gold and took full advantage.
He knocked out then-champion Fabricio Werdum midway through the opening round of their UFC 198 headliner, laying claim to the belt. He has since knocked out Alistair Overeem and dos Santos, avenging his prior loss.
Heading into UFC 220 on Jan. 20 in Boston, Miocic faces perhaps the most ferocious UFC heavyweight contender of our time in Francis Ngannou, who boasts record-setting knockout power. A victory over Ngannou would put Miocic in uncharted territory.
Miocic already has two UFC heavyweight title defenses, which places him alongside Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, and Cain Velasquez, as the only men to have defended the heavyweight belt on multiple occasions. If he beats Ngannou, Miocic will stand alone as the most accomplished heavyweight the UFC has ever know.
Check out what Miocic had to say about being included amongst such storied names, his thoughts on Ngannou and their UFC 220 headlining bout, and more in this extensive video interview with MMAWeekly.com.
Tune in to MMAWeekly.com for UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou full results and live fight stats on Jan. 20. In addition to Miocic putting his belt on the line against Ngannou, UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will try to defend his belt from fast-rising contender Volkan Oezdemir in the UFC 220 co-main event.