CLEVELAND — UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic was not happy about seeing his good friend, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, get suspended for at least the balance of the 2019 season and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph avoid anything more than a fine.
The National Football League suspended Garrett for his role in a melee that marred the Browns’ 21-7 win over the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Thursday night, while Rudolph was subject to a fine, but remained the only player who had a critical role in the incident that avoided a suspension.
Miocic quoted a tweet from renown entertainer Ice Cube and blasted the NFL for their decision to let off easy the Steelers quarterback.
“Mason Rudolph lit the match, started the fire, fanned the flames = Not Suspended,” Miocic wrote. “MG (Garrett) took ownership of his actions. The person who started it will get no punishment while the other three will? C’mon.”
The incident boiled over when Garrett brought Rudolph to the ground after a third-down play with eight seconds remaining in the game.
After the hit, Rudolph attempted to rip off Garrett’s helmet after delivering a couple of kicks below the belt of the Pro Bowl defensive end. Garrett responded by ripping off Rudolph’s helmet before being walked away by Steelers lineman David DeCastro.
Rudolph pursued Garrett despite being without his helmet, and that was when he was on the receiving end of the hit from his protective equipment.
Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey tried to protect his quarterback and after Garrett was taken to the ground, he received several kicks to the helmet and absorbed multiple punches from the veteran interior blocker.
Garrett, Pouncey and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi were ejected, and less than 12 hours later, were suspended for their actions. Pouncey got a three-game ban, while Ogunjobi was handed a one-game suspension.
Miocic came to Garrett’s defense after the two spent part of the offseason training together at Strong Style MMA Gym in Independence.
While in Indianapolis for a Week 2 preseason game against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, Garrett took a few seconds to send video well wishes to Miocic ahead of his heavyweight championship rematch with Daniel Cormier on August 17.
“Man, the time for talk is over,” Garrett said in the brief Twitter video. “Stipe vs. DC. Cleveland vs. The World.
“Man, it’s time to go get that belt, bring it back to the city, bring it back to ‘The Land.’ I’m so excited for you. I know you’re going to win that championship belt, bring it back, and we’re all going to be rooting for you, brother.”
As a nod to Miocic regaining the UFC heavyweight championship come-from-behind victory over Cormier with a fourth-round technical knockout in the main event of UFC 241 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, Garrett did so prior to the Browns’ third preseason game.
While walking into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Garrett donned a “Stipe Miocic” rematch t-shirt with the brief caption: “Baddest man on the planet.”
Miocic returned that support of Garrett during the Browns’ 23-3 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey in Week 2.
Miocic and his manager, Jim Walter, posed for a photo with Garrett after the Browns earned a victory over the Jets, and prior to the game, the championship fighter and standout pass rusher shared a moment on the sideline.
Garrett went on to have three sacks in the win over the Jets.