After winning the UFC heavyweight title in August 2019, Stipe Miocic could go more than a year before he defends the belt. While the promotion moves forward with fights, beginning May 9 with UFC 249, there are no immediate plans for the two-time heavyweight champion’s next bout due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, he’s focusing his energy on serving his community as a volunteer firefighter in northeast Ohio. It’s that role as a first responder that makes him so grateful for his partnership with Modelo, which recently donated $500,000 to First Responders First, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation to support American healthcare workers battling COVID-19.
Modelo and Miocic are celebrating Cinco de Mayo by encouraging people to toast first responders and post their support on social media with the hashtag #CincUp. For every post, Modelo will donating $1 to the First Responders First initiative.
“It’s awesome, Modelo is such a great company. They always put people first before them and they’re always looking to help. It doesn’t get better than that,” Miocic told Uproxx Sports over the phone. “The whole idea of celebrating Cinco at home, at the same time, looking to give back with the #CincUp, it’s just awesome.”
While Miocic has been hard at work outside of the Octagon, he’s kept returning to the UFC in the back of his mind, whenever that might be.
“I’ve been training, but not really,” Miocic said. “I can only do so much at home. It’s tough. Right now, my gym is closed and it doesn’t look like it’s going to open any time soon here in Ohio.
“Definitely, the break is nice,” he continued. “I was out for a little bit with the torn retina. I was ready to get back in the swing of things when this all hit. It’s nice, but at the same time, it sucks because you lose your routine. In hindsight, it’s all about making sure my family is ok. We’ll get past this and get back to normal, but right now, it just sucks.”
As the UFC ramps up building cards and scheduling fights, Miocic isn’t opposed to Dana White’s efforts over the past month “as long as everyone is safe.” Still, while UFC 249 takes place next weekend and “Fight Island” will be up and running soon, Miocic’s mind is elsewhere.
“Right now, I’m not worried about fights,” Miocic said. “We’re doing the best we can to help with the pandemic. We’re trying to keep our head down and keep moving forward until this clears up. We’ll get through it soon.”
When he does fight again, it won’t be rushed. He’ll follow in the footsteps of Amanda Nunes, who pulled out of the UFC 249 card in order to ensure she’s fully ready and in fight shape, and make sure that he’s not cutting any corners before his next time in the Octagon.
“As long as my gym is open and I can get a full fight camp, I’m down to fight anyone,” Miocic said.
As for who Miocic would fight next, there’s no guarantee, but he’s expected to give Cormier a rematch in what would be their trilogy bout for the heavyweight crown. His last fight with Cormier resulted in surgery to repair a torn retina stemming from several inadvertent eye pokes. Miocic hasn’t necessarily forgiven Cormier for that, saying, “I’m glad I can see, it’s all I really care about. That’s it. I’ll leave it at that.”
For now, Miocic will continue to do what he can for his community until he can step back into the Octagon. But when that day comes, it may not take long until he’s participating in a super fight.