If he wasn't already the greatest and most accomplished heavyweight to set foot inside the Octagon, Stipe Miocic cemented those titles by outlasting Daniel Cormier on Saturday in their title trilogy bout at UFC 252.
The staggering amount of times Miocic has been overlooked because he isn't marketable or picked against by fans and media members was never an editorial against the talent and heart that he brought to the table. Neither will it be when those same people probably pick against him once more in future fights against Jon Jones or a rematch with Francis Ngannou.
Either way, the 37-year-old Miocic has proven his worth again and again with a heavyweight resume that simply can no longer be compared with any of his peers.
Since a very forgettable 2012 knockout loss to Stefan Struve, Miocic is 11-2, with both losses having been avenged in title bouts by knockout. He has also finished everyone from Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski and Fabricio Werdum to Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos and Cormier. But along with setting the record for most heavyweight title defenses, Miocic also did something he rarely gets enough credit for — evolve and improve with each fight regardless of age or mileage.
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Miocic's second-straight win against Cormier may have been his most impressive to date when you consider how much he showcased his fight IQ and chin by absorbing damage and constantly making championship adjustments. While he gets far more attention for his cardio and power as to reasons why he has been so successful, Miocic's takedown defense has helped him quietly evolve into one of UFC's most well-rounded champions.
The idea of a P4P list means that, by principle, it's typically slanted against heavyweights as a way to compare smaller fighters to larger ones given that they will never be able to face each other on even terms. Even in that mythical setting, Miocic has shown enough versatility, craft and perseverance to climb the rankings with each victory.
Although his chief rival in Cormier has chosen to walk away for good, the only thing left for Miocic to do is reach higher at his overall greatness among all fighters in UFC history. With Jones' imminent arrival and Ngannou's resurgence, Miocic will get even more difficult opportunities to do just that.
Pick against him at your own peril. Miocic really is that dude.
For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings,.
Men's pound-for-pound rankings
| 1. Khabib Nurmagomedov||Lightweight champion||28-0||--|
|Following the recent death of his father and coach, Nurmagomedov has created a potential exit plan from the sport which includes a fall defense against interim champion Justin Gaethje and a possible showdown next April with Georges St-Pierre. The only problem is Gaethje is no gimme fight.|
|2. Jon Jones||Heavyweight||26-1 (1 NC)||--|
|The greatest 205-pound fighter in MMA history vacated his title before announcing his intentions to move to heavyweight. Whether or not he gets fast-tracked to the title or put on ice to face the winner of a possible Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou rematch, Jones' arrival instantly makes the division twice as compelling. |
|3. Stipe Miocic||Heavyweight champion||20-3|
|Somehow only getting better at 37, Miocic closed out his trilogy with Daniel Cormier at UFC 252 by cementing his status as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. Miocic said he isn't retiring anytime soon and should stand to make big dollars against Ngannou or Jones. |
|4. Kamaru Usman||Welterweight champion||17-1|
|Despite playing it safe down the stretch, Usman was dominant in outworking late-replacement Jorge Masvidal to defend his title at UFC 251. Up next should be the red-hot Gilbert Burns in what would be a dangerous test on paper. |
|5. Israel Adesanya||Middleweight champion||19-0||--|
|"The Last Stylebender" struggled to edge a non-combative Yoel Romero by decision in his first title defense at UFC 248 in March. Up next is unbeaten Brazilian slugger Paulo Costa in a Sept. 26 fight which all but guarantees nonstop action.|
|6. Alexander Volkanovski||Featherweight champion||22-1|
|A second-straight win over former champion Max Holloway at UFC 251 brought with it a bit of controversy over the disputed split decision. However you scored it, Volkanovski made enough championship adjustments to hold off a slow start to close distance and impress with a late rally.|
|7. Justin Gaethje||Interim lightweight champion||22-2|
|Just how good is Gaethje? The violent ease in which he snapped Tony Ferguson's incredible 12-fight win streak was an eye-opener. The ultimate test remains a shot this fall for Nurmagomedov's full 155-pound crown. |
|8. Dustin Poirier||Lightweight||26-6 (1 NC)|
|Poirier refused to allow the lightweight division's future to be written without his name still included at the top of the rankings by bouncing back from a one-sided title loss last year to best Dan Hooker in their all-action June clash. Still just 31, Poirier remains championship material. |
|9. Deveison Figueiredo||Flyweight champion||19-1|
|Two dominant finishes of long-time contender Joseph Benavidez have Figueiredo standing tall as the baddest 125-pound fighter in UFC. Although he's a menace with his hands and seemingly always looking for the finish, his ground game is nothing to take for granted. |
|10. Max Holloway||Featherweight||21-6||--|
Holloway appeared to do just enough to edge Alexander Volkanovski and regain his featherweight title at UFC 251. Yet despite scoring a pair of knockdowns and clearly winning the opening rounds, "Blessed" was forced to settle for a split-decision loss. What's next? That remains the unknown within a deep division and the unlikely scenario he gets a trilogy anytime soon.
Dropped out: Daniel Cormier
Just missed: Petr Yan, Tony Ferguson, Dominick Reyes, Robert Whittaker, Gilbert Burns, Aljamain Sterling, Jorge Masvidal
Women's pound-for-pound rankings
|1. Amanda Nunes||Bantamweight/Featherweight champion||20-4||--|
A dominant decision win over Felicia Spencer in June to make the first defense of her 145-pound title has left Nunes without an obvious next move in either division. With the birth of her first child looming with partner Nina Ansaroff, recent teases from Nunes about retirement should be taken seriously.
|2. Valentina Shevchenko||Flyweight champion||19-3||--|
|The best 125-pound fighter in the world looked unbeatable at UFC 247 in her title defense against Katllyn Chookagian. The gap between Shevchenko and the rest of the division is so wide, it's very likely her next defining fight comes against a champion below or above her. |
|3. Weili Zhang||Strawweight champion||21-1||--|
|Zhang's inevitable ascent to global stardom after becoming China's first UFC champion only continued in her first title defense at UFC 248. She co-authored quite possibly the best fight in women's MMA history against Joanna Jedrzejczyk and answered any remaining questions about her skills, toughness and cardio. |
|4. Rose Namajunas||Strawweight||9-4|
|The former 115-pound champion made an emphatic return from a long layoff to end talk of retirement by avenging her title loss to Jessica Andrade. "Thug" Rose was forced to walk through hell to do so in a near disastrous final round that left her swollen and bloody. An inevitable showdown with Weili Zhang for the belt could be the best fight to make in women's MMA.|
|5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk||Strawweight||16-4|
|At 32, the former champion proved she's still got a ton left in the tank by pushing Weili Zhang to the limit in a split-decision loss. Jedrzejczyk suffered heavy damage including a grotesquely swollen face yet showed a limitless level of resolve. The loss drops her to 0-4 in title bouts since 2017. |
Dropped out: None
Just missed: Germaine de Randamie, Jessica Andrade, Tatiana Suarez, Aspen Ladd, Cynthia Calvillo