This Saturday the best card of the year finally arrives in the form of UFC 211 and the main event features one of the most anticipated heavyweight title fights in recent memory. Stipe Miocic looks to defend his belt for the second time when he takes on the last man to hand him a defeat inside the Octagon, former champion Junior dos Santos.
At UFC 211, Miocic is looking to become only the fourth man to defend the heavyweight title twice, but standing across from, dos Santos knows what it’s like to be a champion and also knows what it’s like to have that title ripped away from him.
The first meeting between the two was one of the best heavyweight fights the UFC has ever seen. The fight in Phoenix back in December 2014 was a back and forth war that saw dos Santos with his hand raised at the end of the five rounds. Miocic nearly had the fight finished twice in the first round, but dos Santos put his stamp on the fight and took the decision. Since the fight, Miocic has won four straight and finished all those fights. A fifth stoppage in as many fights would put him on the cusp of heavyweight history.
Miocic’s gameplan from the first fight would seem to be the way to beat JDS. A strong clinch game to land short choppy punches and elbows while mixing in his wrestling game to keep Cigano guessing. The reason it didn’t work the first time was he simply ran out of steam. His cardio was the problem the first time these two met, but his next fight against Mark Hunt proved he had made the improvements he needed to make. He landed 361 strikes in that fight. The most in any UFC fight. Ever. He mixed up his striking and wrestling to devastating effect to finish Hunt in the fifth round.
If Miocic has the cardio to push the pace the way he tried to in the first fight we could well see him pick up his second title defence and his fifth finish in as many fights, but for those sleeping on the former champ you could also be in for a shock.
“Cigano” looked as good as he ever has in his last Octagon outing against Ben Rothwell. He was taking on one of the most inform heavyweights on the roster at the time and it was as dangerous a fight as he could have taken at the time. Not only did he completely shut down the Wisconsin native, but he exited the contest without a scratch on his face.
There’s no secret to how JDS is going to approach this fight at UFC 211. He wants to stand and bang and eventually put you on your ass. He has some of the best boxing in the UFC and in particular loves that lead left hook. He generates more power than most when he fires that punch and even though Miocic has the reach advantage JDS will be the one looking to keep this fight at range. The left hook, jab and that right uppercut that he put Fabricio Werdum away with in his debut will be his primary weapons, but arguably his biggest weapon is the shot that earned him the belt in the first place.
The overhand right that he throws with such ferocity, speed and timing is a terrifying weapon in a division full of terrifying men.
The wrestling department is the one place people seem to think that Stipe has the advantage. That’s not necessarily true. JDS took him down in their first bout and has been known to initiate the wrestling exchanges when he knows that people are tiring. Miocic certainty has the better pedigree, but if he gasses out similar to the first fight he could be in a world of trouble.
JDS has promised to finish this fight in the first round. I, for one, can’t see the UFC 211 main event being finished in the first stanza. For me Miocic has a slight advantage and if he has made the improvements to his cardio that I think he has a third round stoppage isn’t out of the question. But count out Cigano at your peril. One thing is for certain. This is going to be one of the best fights in recent memory.