When No. 4-ranked UFC heavyweight Stipe Miocic steps into the Octagon to face Mark Hunt in the main event of UFC Fight Night 65 from Adelaide, Australia, tomorrow night (May 9, 2015), he’ll be looking to incite an intriguing changing of the guard in MMA’s biggest division.

The 32-year-old Cleveland stalwart has been lingering around the top rungs of the weight class for years now, but has failed to rise up to the true upper echelons due to a pair of disappointing setbacks. After a 9-0 start to his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, Miocic was knocked out by former rising prospect Stefan Struve at 2012’s UFC on Fuel TV 4.

Miocic rebounded well by winning his next three bouts over Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Fabio Maldonado, but he failed to notch that one true signature win again when he dropped a close and brutal unanimous decision to former champion Junior dos Santos in the main event of last December’s UFC on FOX 13.

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With the heavyweight division short on legitimate contenders, Miocic got another top opponent in the 41-year-old Hunt, who was last seen losing an interim title bout to Fabricio Werdum at November’s UFC 180. Miocic can put his name on the (very) short list of potential title challengers by defeating “The Super Samoan,” and he believes the match-up is ripe for doing just that.

Discussing the bout during an interview with Bleacher Report’s Duane Finley, Miocic refuted Hunt’s claim that he’ll have nothing for him. He said Hunt is definitely one of the best in the world, but he’s simply better and will show that this Saturday:

“I’m feeling great and ready to roll, brother. This is a great fight, and I love it. I feel I match up well with Hunt. I think it’s funny he says that I have nothing for him and he’s better than me.

“That’s fine. A person can think what they want, and I personally don’t care what he thinks about me. He’s one of the best in the world, but I think I’m better. I’ll show everyone that on May 10 [local time in Australia].”

Never known for talking much trash or engaging in much out-of-the-cage self promotion, that’s about the closest thing to smack that you’ll hear fly out of Miocic’s mouth. He’s a respectful competitor who has pride in his Croatian roots, heritage that he recently explored further by taking a trip to his homeland to train with the legendary Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic.

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Miocic helped Cro Cop enact revenge on bitter rival Gabriel Gonzaga at April’s UFC Fight Night 64, and now he thinks that knowledge will transfer over to his bout with Hunt tomorrow:

“I had an amazing trip to Croatia. I learned so much and got a lot better. Cro Cop is one of the best in the world and such a great guy. It was awesome to train with him. There’s nothing better than working with him, and it was a great experience.

“It definitely was a great boost of motivation for my fight, and I’m ready to get in there and get the job done.”

Facing perhaps the most powerful striker in all of MMA, Miocic will need every edge he can get to topple the mountain that the massive Hunt presents. If he does, he could finally step into his coveted UFC title shot.

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