Through UFC 211’s main event, fans inside the American Airlines Arena and those watching around the world will be witnesses to one of two things: either a spectacular reform for former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos or a passing of the torch to the future of the 265-pound division, the current champion in Stipe Miocic.
Although these combatants are just shy if each other in age (34-33 in favor of dos Santos,) Miocic feels like the more youthful fighter. The movement of JDS seems to have eroded some and while the statistics are close, the Brazilian takes more damage than the American, averaging 3.26 strikes absorbed per minute (a 62 percent defense rate) to the 3.22 strikes absorbed per minute by Miocic (a 55 percent defense rate) according to FightMetric, LLC.’
Miocic has also been on a four-fight victory streak. Three of those bouts ended in the opening five minutes including his fight against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 around this time last year to win the title and UFC 203’s main event last September against Alistair Overeem, his first defense of the championship.
The two have developed a very healthy respect for one another. Still, dos Santos feels that the UFC brass and fans should not consider him out of the running to be the new heavyweight champion.
A Prior History
“I already beat the champion. That’s the fight for the UFC to make now,” “Cigano” told Fox Sports in January. “Me against him, fighting for the title no doubt. Everything is stopped right now and we need keep the division going. This is the most dangerous and exciting division in any martial arts sports so let’s do it.”
What dos Santos is referencing is a fight from December of 2014 in which he beat Cleveland, Ohio’s newfound favorite son unanimously over 25 minutes (the length for both main event match-ups and title fights.) Per FightMetric, dos Santos landed 140 overall strikes (123 significant strikes for 40 percent,) including 78 strikes to the head (63 percent), to go along with one takedown and one knockdown.
The decision to award dos Santos was viewed with much criticism after Miocic largely controlled the first, second, and fifth rounds.
However, it should be noted that the first go-around with Miocic was the only time he appeared in the UFC’s octagon in 2014 before being finished by Overeem and then scoring another point-based when against Ben Rothwell in April of 2016. Miocic would begin his streak by knocking out Mark Hunt and landing 361overall strikes to Hunt’s overwhelmingly disappointing 46.
Despite all of these figures, dos Santos feels that his triumph over Rothwell was enough of a statement.
During that time Rothwell had finished four consecutive scraps against Josh Barnett (at one time the UFC’s youngest heavyweight champion after he won the belt at the age of 24,) Brandon Vera (now the light heavyweight titleholder for ONE Championship in Asia,) Matt Mtrione (the one half of the main event of Bellator MMA’s debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 24 and the opponent of heavyweight icon Fedor Emelianko,) and one more name that both he and dos Santos both have on their records: Alistair Overeem.
The former champion may seem confident after that lone recent bit of success, he’s also confident thanks to his training regimen for this, his third shot at gold. Miocic, as usual, has been dormant when it comes to speaking to the media. It’s because he’s training for battle as well. The champion of Croatian descent has been working out with Pride FC veteran, Dan Bobish, a friend of over a decade.
“Because of the person Stipe is, it makes it very enjoyable to train him and it also made us very, very close friends. We have the same principle-based values, and I think that helps. We kind of know what each other is thinking, and we’re blessed to have the friendship and the working relationship we have, and that’s what helps me coach him, because I know him so well. It’s a little tougher when you don’t know the person as well. You don’t have this deep trust in each other.”
Bobish ended his MMA career at 17-9 with all of his wins coming through finishes (nine by submission). None of his fights went to a decision.
The fight is largely expected to be a display of pugilism. However, Miocic was a NCAA Division- I wrestler while at Cleveland State University. In reference to a stand-up war, dos Santos simply captioned a recent post on Instagram: “Buckle up for the ride folks.”
Miocic has racked up 16 wins (13 finishes) against just two defeats (only being stopped a single time himself. The champion also has a new ambition to prove that his cardio and general conditioning are at the most elite level as no fight of his has lasted a complete five rounds, saying he wasn’t ready for 25 minutes ahead of the first bout with dos Santos. But, he’ll always go for the proverbial kill if he finds the right opportunity to do so.
En route to topping Werdum and Overeem, Micoc landed 20 of 31 overall strikes when he first won the belt (they are all considered significant strikes) for a total of 64 percent. Just under half of those blows were to the head as Werdum didn’t make it out of the first round. Overeem was also bested in the same round following 34 significant strikes after just 61 overall attempts (56 percent. He also was 1 for 1 in takedown attempts.
Bovada has Miocic as the favorite as he’s at -135 with dos Santos being the underdog at +105.
Prediction: (C) Stipe Miocic defeats Junior dos Santos via KO/TKO
UFC 211: Miocic vs. dos Santos takes place on May 13 from Dallas with the main pay-per-view card beginning at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT. Should Miocic come out on top, he will be a single win away from setting a record for UFC heavyweight championship defenses.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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