The Cleveland Cavaliers capped off the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history by becoming the first team to win the championship after trailing 3-1. The Cavaliers became the first Cleveland team in the three major sports leagues to win a championship since 1964. However, the city had welcomed one of its own as a champion just months before.
UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic, Cleveland born and bred, won the belt at UFC 198 over Fabricio Werdum in his first title defense. Miocic said that the win was for his city and that he expected more titles to come the city's way. Clearly his prediction turned out to be true as now the city has two world champions.
Stipe is part of Cleveland and Cleveland is part of Stipe. There is no separating the two as he has so much pride in his city. Many UFC fighters can be identified by their hometowns and truly take on the character of the city. Here are some of the biggest hometown heroes of the UFC.
Michael Bisping, Manchester, U.K.
Bisping is a veteran fighter in the sport. He is a former TUF winner and coach, has 26 fights and the most significant strikes in UFC history with 1,414. His efforts in the Octagon finally culminated in a belt after he defeated Luke Rockhold to become the middleweight champion.
"The Count" has a swagger inside the Octagon that comes from the city of Manchester. Though he was born in a military base in Cyprus and currently lives in California, the industrial city molded Bisping into the scrappy fighter he is today. The city's economy historically has relied on factory work and while it has evolved to be one of the most important and diverse economies in the U.K., its citizens still have that hardy, blue-collar work ethic.
Bisping's grit and tenacity that he has shown throughout his career reflects the city of Manchester quite well.
Nate and Nick Diaz, Stockton, CA
The Diaz brothers have been polarizing figures in the UFC for a long time. While they have always been talked about because of their willingness to trash-talk opponents and speak out against the UFC, they are now mostly in the news for Nick's suspension and Nate's rivalry with Conor McGregor.
The willingness of the Diaz brothers to fight is at the heart of their hometown of Stockton, a town built up after the Gold Rush of the 19th century. Settlers were constantly fighting others for a stake of land and the potential for gold. The city also built up a naval base during the Cold War and had to recover after being one of the hardest hit cities in the 2007 financial collapse.
Stockton has been a fighting city for nearly its whole existence, and the Diaz brothers are born fighters. They even named their signature move after the city, the "Stockton Slap." Their toughness and "does-not-take-s--t" attitude can definitely be traced to their roots in Stockton.
Donald Cerrone, Denver, CO
Cerrone is among the most active and recognizable fighters in the UFC for his "anyone, anywhere, anytime" attitude toward fighting. Known for his laid back nature outside of the Octagon and ruthless strikes inside, "Cowboy" is beloved by MMA fans. He also gives fans what they want — finishes. Cerrone now has sole possession of the most stoppages in UFC/WEC history (15) and the most post-fight bonuses in UFC/WEC history (17).
While many of the fighters' fighting styles are defined by their city, the way Cerrone lives his life can be credited to Denver. If he is not fighting, you can find Cowboy somewhere outside. He will be riding horses, getting on ATVs, go wake-boarding or mount a full-size bull.
The adventurous attitude comes from the city of Denver and in fact the state of Colorado. With all the natural resources available to locals, Cowboy would be crazy not to spend a majority of his time growing up outside. This has translated to his adult life and into his Cowboy lifestyle.
Holly Holm, Albuquerque, NM
Holly Holm has been in combat sports for over a decade and has consistently found success no matter the sport or league she competes in. She broke into the UFC scene after a shocking upset of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 for the bantamweight championship. Though she trains out of Albuquerque at Jackson-Winklejohn like many great fighters, she herself is home grown.
Like Holm, Albuquerque is quiet about its success. While the state of New Mexico does not receive the attention that larger states like California or Texas do, it has had great success, particularly in its most populous city. Throughout the last decade it has been considered one of the best cities for business to set up shop, considered one of the top cities in the country for families to live, and is one of the up-and-coming cities for film making, including hosting a Marvel Studios location.
It is also important to know that one of the Albuquerque's main industries is power and energy, which is among Holm's greatest strengths inside the Octagon.
Matt Serra, East Meadow, New York
Also among the greatest underdogs in UFC history, Serra turned his time on TUF into a shot at the welterweight belt against the legendary Georges St-Pierre. He rocked GSP to take the belt from what many consider one of the best fighters of all time. While many gave Serra no chance in the bout, his personality would not let him quit or give up on himself. That came from his time growing up in East Meadow, part of Long Island.
If the accent wasn't enough of a give away that he is from Long Island, his personality will. At heart, Serra is a blue-collar guy of Italian descent who just wants to find a place to eat a good cannoli. His unwillingness to back down from a fight, even when facing insurmountable odds, truly captures the spirit of New York, particular those from Long Island.
Serra has used his passion to inspire other New York fighters like Chris Weidman to great UFC heights and will be a great ambassador for MMA once the UFC comes to New York for UFC 205 in November.
(Images via MMAWeekly.com)