SPO 190818 STIPE MIOCIC-1566126507161
Stipe Miocic throws a punch at Daniel Cormier (left) in the second round during their UFC heavyweight title Bout at UFC 241 at Honda Centre in Anaheim, California. Image Credit: AFP

Anaheim, California: Stipe Miocic waited over a year to face Daniel Cormier again, and his plan for the rematch didn’t start to work until they were deep in the fourth round. That’s when the patient, determined firefighter from Cleveland finally got his revenge — and suddenly reclaimed his UFC heavyweight title.

Miocic stopped Cormier with a barrage of punches in the fourth, taking back his championship belt with a comeback victory at UFC 241 on Saturday night.

Miocic (19-3) lost the first two rounds on every judge’s scorecard in his rematch with the 40-year-old Cormier (22-2). After making some progress in the third, Miocic steadily came forward through Cormier’s blows in the fourth and finally hurt the champion with a punch to the body.

Miocic then landed several powerhouse right hands to Cormier’s head, buckling his knees and eventually forcing referee Herb Dean to stop the fight with 51 seconds left in the fourth round. The 1.95-metre behemoth leapt onto the wall of the cage and celebrated with fans still stunned by the fight’s sudden turn.

“I saw some weakness in that third round,” Miocic said. “And then in that fourth round, I caught him with that right hand. Thank God, because he’s tough.”

Nate Diaz also returned from a three-year hiatus with a dominant decision victory over Anthony Pettis at Honda Centre, but he was upstaged by the remarkable redemption of Miocic.

Miocic reigned as the UFC’s heavyweight champion for 26 months, and he defended his belt a UFC-record three consecutive times before Cormier dethroned him in July 2018 with a first-round stoppage victory. Despite Cormier’s decisive victory, Miocic campaigned for a rematch and eventually received it when Cormier said he “deserved it.”