Stipe Miocic's résumé can stack up against any heavyweight who has ever entered the Octagon.
His first-round dismantling of former champion Junior dos Santos this past weekend in the main event at UFC 211 was Miocic's second successful title defense, a feat no one in his division has ever bested. But does that make him the UFC's greatest heavyweight ever?
Miocic, though, isn't skating by on narrow decisions. In his past four fights, he has knocked out Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem and dos Santos in the first round. Three of the four -- Arlovski, Werdum and dos Santos -- are former UFC champions. Maybe that's why Velasquez, in his prime, might seem to cast a larger shadow. There are more memories of round-by-round dominance, because his highest-profile title defense, the rubber match against dos Santos, lasted five rounds.
At what point is it more honest to lay aside intangible objections and consider whether Miocic tops the list? He has a high-level boxing foundation, Division I wrestling credentials and an ability to stand in the brightest lights of the sport without being blinded by them.
Sure, he lacks the longevity of Werdum or Antonio "Big Nog" Nogueira. But Miocic holds a first-round knockout over Werdum, and Big Nog's prime substantially predated his UFC arrival. Even former champion Randy Couture's wins at heavyweight don't match the murderers' row that Stipe just navigated.
For the sake of debate, let's say Miocic isn't there yet. What more would he have to accomplish to become the promotion's greatest all-time heavyweight? What's left for him to satisfy the detractors?
Would he need to beat Velasquez, who still can't seem to stay healthy long enough to reach the "fight" portion of a heavyweight booking? Even another first-round win there might be discredited because of Velazquez's extensive injury history. Would he need to beat Francis Ngannou, who is seen as the future of the division and whose cachet won't mean what it should for another few years?
How many victories does Miocic need to collect before the MMA collective gets over its rosy retrospection? He can't feasibly beat opponents any faster, nor should he have to. The standard for measuring Miocic can't differ from the heralded heavyweights of yesteryear. The remedy for avoiding a recency bias isn't allowing the pendulum to swing too far the other way.
Miocic isn't a flash in the pan; his sample size continues to grow every six months.
Turn on the tape. Compare the results. You'll see that Miocic belongs at No. 1 within five minutes -- more time than it took to finish each of the fighters he beat to claim the throne.