I remember watching him in his UFC debut against Beltran thinking, "this guy will never make it, keeps his head up too high, too small, no KO power... who is this wanna be Cro Cop?" I didn't even know he was American.
Then when he lost to Struve, I thought we would never see him again, but he's blue collar, he's a work horse, he worked his way all the way to a title contender fight with Old Arlovski after beating a LHW, and i still remember think then he could never be the champ...
Then he shocked the world and screamed in awkward silence in front of 60,000 Brazilians, "I'm the Champ, I'm the champ!" He's been the underdog in almost all of his defenses, and now, he's probably a sure fire HOF fighter, about to get his biggest pay day ever against another HOF fighter in DC.
I'm glad to say I was wrong. Stipe has slowly, progressively become my favorite fighter. He's defied the odds, become a legend, and done it as a blue collar, stand-up human being. He's one hell of a model American.