One week before the biggest fight of his career, undefeated UFC heavyweight contender Stipe Miocic had one final call of duty.
Miocic had to work an eight-hour Sunday shift at a suburban Cleveland fire department, where he doubles as a firefighter and paramedic, before shipping out to England the following day for his main event fight at UFC on Fuel TV 5 in Nottingham on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Such is life for the rising UFC heavyweight, who will face Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve in Nottingham. And Miocic loves every minute of it. "I've gotta have a good time," he says. "I'm always trying to be happy and not think too hard about it and take it day-by-day."
Headlining a UFC card is one goal achieved among many set by Miocic (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC). Now the 30-year-old fighter is poised for a run to the top of the UFC heavyweight division. A win over Struve would push him up the UFC ranks and could eventually lead to a title shot in the heavyweight division.
Miocic says of his goals, "It's all mind over matter. In your mind if you can do it, then you're going to do it."
The former Golden Gloves boxing champion has refined all aspects of his game in preparation for the seven-foot Struve. However, his greatest strength in the Octagon may not be his striking power or wrestling skills, but rather his mental toughness, which was only enhanced by the unconventional methods that his coach, Marcus Marinelli, employed in his training.
A sprint triathlon and a 100-mile mountain bike ride, combined with mind-breaking MMA sparring and conditioning circuits, helped Miocic take his mental strength to the next level.
Says Marinelli, owner of Strong Style MMA gym and team coach, "His focus and his ability to stay focused when he's really tired have taken a big step up."
All that's left is for Miocic to continue climbing the ladder to the top of the UFC ranks.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock