Reigning UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has played down Alistair Overeem's remarks about him being unfocused heading into their title fight at UFC 203 on Saturday.
Miocic will be defending his title for the first time since winning it back at UFC 198 in May when he knocked out Fabricio Werdum in the first round.
After winning the title, Miocic celebrated his success in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, but opponent Overeem believes that the 34-year-old’s aura has started to wane since then.
“It’s all about whether he can stay focused,” Overeem had said. “If you’re doing the appearances and the pool parties – because yes, we have seen Stipe at several of them. Not one, but several.
“He’s enjoying the life, and that’s not a bad thing. But know somebody’s coming and somebody’s going to take that belt, and he’s not going to enjoy life.”
Responding to Overeem, Miocic insisted that he is still as motivated as ever and added that he has been training harder due to the responsibilities that come with being a champion.
“Everywhere I go, every time I do an appearance I have a coach and a training partner with me,” he said. “Nothing changed with my training. I’m training harder than ever before. I’m just ready to go. Nothing changed with my training — actually training’s gotten harder.”
Miocic is under pressure to deliver on Saturday as he will be fighting on home soil, but the heavyweight champion is confident that he will come out on top against Overeem.
“This is business. I’m going to go out there and do my job. I’ve trained really hard. I’ve trained too hard to just give it up. I worked hard to get this title. I’m going to win. You’ll find out how when my hand is raised,” he said. “Overeem’s a veteran, he’s fought the best in the world. He’s a great kickboxer, he’s a big and strong guy who’s good on the ground, too. It’s going to be crazy walking out there, but all I’m focused on is the task at hand.”