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Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum: Actual Start Time, PPV Info, Betting Odds For UFC Heavyweight Fight

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Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum: Early Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For UFC Heavyweight Fight

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The Path of the Immigrant Mentality: The Key Fights in the Development of Stipe Miocic

Heavyweight is a division of brutes and barbarians. In a class of fighters capable of winning and losing any fight at the drop of an axe, the unpredictability of heavyweight has made the division a hotbed of championship messiness. No one holds the belt for very long, and those that do are few and far between. Everyone is vulnerable. No one is safe. Naturally, for a champion to rise above the rest at heavyweight and prove himself more than once is remarkable. The division is a tired battlefield of veterans and young guns, so the one who rules over the kingdom must be made of something special.
On the surface, there's very little about Stipe Miocic that appears particularly grand. He's a 6'4" athlete with a muscular (not granite) frame. He's got a voice of gravel, a goofy sense of humor, and a full-time job as a firefighter. His Embedded clips see him pranking his wife over the phone, buying slingshots for fun, and taking pictures with fans.
As the champion of the UFC's heavyweight division, one might expect a more intimidating force holding the crown. The emotionless eyes of Cain Velasquez, the inhuman physical presence of Alistair Overeem or Francis Ngannou, or a reaper, pointing to the bloody canvas with a cold stare saying, "Let's do this," from Junior Dos Santos. Stipe Miocic just calmly looks on, shakes his opponent's hand at the referee's instruction, touches gloves before each round, and goes to work. "Blue-collar till the day you die," laughed Joe Rogan at the UFC 211 post fight interview.
It’s simple, really. Stipe does his firefighting job by day, and does his fighting job by night. When asked if making history was important to Miocic, he said, "No, I really don't care. If I break history, big deal. I'm just gonna keep winning. I like winning. It's fun. I like being called champ especially." Fighting isn't a legal outlet for Miocic the way it is for someone like Jon Jones. It's just a practice that Stipe likes and he's good at it.
He's also on the cusp of becoming the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history.
Stipe Miocic is the UFC heavyweight champion, and he has successfully defended his belt twice, tying the all-time defense record in the division. He is currently tied for the longest active stoppage streak in the UFC (along with Mairbek Taisumov and Francis Ngannou). If we include Mark Hunt's K-1 kickboxing title, Miocic has knocked out five champions in a row (Hunt, Arlovski, Werdum, Overeem, and Dos Santos), the last four in the first round. He has absolutely smashed the expectations most fans had of him when he lost via TKO to Stefan Struve in 2012. Miocic looks more and more threatening each time out, and his list of accolades likely already earns him a place amongst the all-time greats.
And yet...
I still feel kind of bad for Stipe. Despite his spectacular title run, some people still are finding reasons to deny Stipe the credit he deserves by mitigating his accomplishments. It sucks to see Stipe continually raising the bar for his division, only to be torn down by rabid fans desperate for something to complain about. Stipe can't be blamed for the inherent unpredictability of his division.
Brutalizes Hunt for 4.5 rounds? Eh, it shouldn't have taken him that long to finish a 40-year-old kickboxer anyway.
Snaps Arlovski's comeback streak in under a minute? Well, Arlovski's five-fight losing streak sort of takes the shine away.
Flattens Werdum with one shot? It was Werdum's fault for charging in recklessly.
Rallying to stomp Overeem? Stipe was nearly knocked out and choked before he turned it around.
Crushing the last man to beat him in Dos Santos? JDS' chin hasn't been the same since the Cain losses.
Maybe now we can give Stipe the credit he deserves. That's what I'm here to do. In this piece, I'll be revisiting eight key fights from Miocic and analyzing the technical developments the heavyweight champion has made in the last few years. Hopefully now, enough evidence has been provided to declare Miocic as a legitimately great champion of MMA.
2011: Stipe Miocic vs. Joey Beltran
Stipe's first UFC fight was a modest one. As an undefeated, 6-0 prospect (all wins via stoppage), Miocic was a pretty exciting prospect for the division, but he didn't exactly capitalize on his hype train in his UFC debut.
Looking back on it, it's crazy to see just how plodding Miocic's footwork looks. His weight distribution on his feet is more even and upright, which caused Beltran to just walk Stipe to the mat at one point. His combination and chained leg kicks were solid, but his inability to sit down on any of his shots meant that most of the offense he produced on the feet was landing...nothing more. He wasn't sure where he wanted the range of the fight to take place, mostly just competing with Beltran wherever he felt like at that given moment in time.
Stipe also spent more time in the clinch against Beltran than we see from him nowadays. Pressing Beltran against the cage, Stipe would grab an underhook and look for elbows on the clinch breaks (something he would hone later in his career). Occasionally, he would get tagged on these clinch breaks, as a result of not ducking his head and just backing straight out. The whole concept of MMA was pretty foreign to Miocic at this point. Instead of blending these phases together into an efficient whole, Stipe mostly worked in all of them individually without any particular way to tie them together beyond sheer athleticism.
What we see from Miocic in this bout is a raw prospect (more athlete than fighter at this point) physically overwhelming a less technical, less physical but nevertheless very tough opponent. Stipe grabbed some easy singles against Beltran, outworked him on the feet, and won a pretty inarguable decision. I picked this fight, because it shows just how underdeveloped Stipe began as. Not too many people were amazed by this win, and it's understandable as to why. However, Stipe did not stop developing from here.
2012: Stipe Miocic vs. Stefan Struve
Every elite heavyweight has at least one embarrassingly bad loss. Even so, a TKO loss to Struve as a -275 favorite is a particularly bad one to have. A lot of analysts shrugged off Stipe's chances at heavyweight after this loss, and rewatching it...it's not difficult to see why. Eyepokes and slips aside, this is easily the ugliest fight of Stipe's career.
The first round starts well enough for Stipe. His angling and pivoting looks decent, though not as sharp as we'll see in later bouts. His combination body punches and leg kicks as Struve steps in are in full form. The problem for Stipe in this bout is that he still wasn't sure where to keep the fight against such a long, rangy man. Still in his "prospect phase," Stipe wasn't especially comfortable fighting Struve anywhere and it cost him.
Since this was before Miocic truly developed his power, he figured his best bet was in open space. We know now that Miocic's best bet is almost always pressuring his opponent to the cage and manipulating their movement (often called “herding” in boxing). By keeping Struve in open space, he allowed Struve to operate with more tools and find openings. He also didn't want to play around in Struve's guard. The one time he managed to take Struve down, he immediately pops out of a leg lock attempt and circles back to the center. Since Miocic was still mostly a wrestleboxer at this point in his career, the discomfort in top control was probably a bad sign.
Miocic would pressure Struve to the cage and then inexplicably back off for some reason. He didn't look confident backing Struve up and entering the pocket. Combined with his suspect cardio at the time, it caused Miocic to absorb more damage at range than he should've and losing control of the cage. Despite winning the first pretty easily, Stipe's pace slows in the second, allowing Struve to find his chin with some uppercuts before the referee stops Miocic from taking anymore damage.
However, this loss wasn't totally without merit. What we see here is the development of Stipe's jab, a stinging tool which would become a staple in the Hunt, Werdum, and Overeem fights. I've argued before that Miocic possesses maybe the best jab at heavyweight. It's not like Dos Santos' level-changing jab, which he'll only throw from open space and double up on. Miocic uses his jab as a short battering ram, and even punching up to Sturve, he still managed to punch his way to the inside and switch up his rhythm (see; a superman jab). He exploited Struve's total lack of head movement early with a piercing jab, and Struve looked baffled at how to deal with it. Heavyweight is a division built off terrible defense in general, and a shocking amount of elite contenders often find themselves bamboozled at how to work past a developed jab. Two changes (more linear pressure and leading with the jab more) might've changed the outcome of this fight. Nonetheless, this tool became a studied weapon for Miocic later in his career.
2014: Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado
The biggest technical development in Stipe's game was the discovery of his power. For a long time, Stipe was largely considered a poor man's Cain Velasquez. A few three-round decision wins and some ground-and-pound stoppages seemed like evidence that Miocic was more of a technical volume wrestleboxer in the mold of the champion at the time. Stipe's biggest problems with this archetype were that he lacked the x-factors that made Cain great, like relentless guard assaults, endless pressure, and quick finish.
Miocic's first round knockout of Maldonado signaled a terrifying change of course in his fighting career. Coming off two consecutive decision wins after his loss to Struve, most believed Miocic would win this fight fairly easily with takedowns and combinations. Heavy Hands analyst Patrick Wyman said, "Miocic should be able to land takedowns at will for at least the first few rounds, and there's no reason to think that he doesn't have the cardio to do so for five rounds if need be. I think he'll need all five, because despite his boxing skills, Miocic doesn't hit particularly hard." What people didn't realize was that the risk-averse wrestleboxer from 2012 was fading. In his place was a brickfisted executioner, tired of waiting.
The fight is short, but you can already begin to see glimpses of Miocic the Murderer. His weight is less upright than in his early career, instead putting more emphasis on his front leg. He hunches lower in a more athletic, powerful stance. When Maldonado rushes in with a couple hooks, Miocic is already moving his head and pivoting to his left, hastily circling back to the center with ease.
When Miocic pressures Maldonado to the cage, he sets the distance with his leg kicks, before feinting his left. In doing do, Stipe forces Maldonado to move left, away from the feint, and straight into a short right cross that shuts his lights out. A perfect collision. The official time was 0:35 in the first round. While Maldonado isn't the most remarkable name for a heavyweight to starch, it was exactly the performance that indicated Miocic as a legitimate knockout threat to anybody in the division.
2014: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos I
Off of his first minute murder against a late-notice replacement in Maldonado, Miocic was rescheduled for the contest with Dos Santos. The former champion’s career was largely in limbo at the time. He had suffered two brutal beatings at the hands of Cain Velasquez, and this being his comeback fight, a lot of journalists were wondering how Dos Santos was going to show up. Permanently ravaged from two senseless beatings? Totally devoid of his legendary durability? Or, would he show up as vintage Cigano, same as he always was?
Stipe was not playing the main character in this fight, but this did turn out to be maybe the most pivotal fight in his entire career. Simply put, this was Stipe’s warrior moment. The fight that determined his fate on the elite end of heavyweight wasn’t coincidental, but rightful. It might not have felt like it at the time, but in hindsight, this loss proved to be the best thing for Miocic.
The first two rounds play out pretty flawlessly for Stipe. Against Dos Santos who practically mirrored Miocic’s stance (bladed hips with the front foot turned inward) and octagon presence, Miocic began by feinting level changes into strikes and working in the clinch. Dos Santos’ ironclad takedown defense was on full display here, so much so that Miocic ended up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to takedowns against someone comparable to him athletically. But, what these takedown attempts did accomplish was force Dos Santos to be tentative and revert to his old habits. Most notably, circling with his back to the cage, employing exploitable cage-craft, and dropping his hands on exits.
Stipe’s understanding of the sport of MMA was more apparent in this bout than ever before. He might feint his way to a takedown attempt, miss it, then land a few hard strikes on JDS as JDS was trying to circle off with his hands down. Stipe was discovering new ways to lace these phases of MMA together, something that he really struggled with early in his career.
A big story in this fight was Miocic’s jab versus Dos Santos’ jab, and more often than not, Dos Santos’ jab would win because he would duck into body jabs and mix up his approach more than Miocic in open space. Dos Santos possessed the best jab Miocic has fought so far in his MMA career, and it was evident in this bout. In open space, Dos Santos would post with his left and mix up his right hand with overhands, crosses, and the occasional uppercut. The double-jab (head-body) was a common tactic for Dos Santos, too, where Miocic might parry the jab up high but leave his body exposed to the second. Dos Santos’ left hook was another signature weapon for him here, hooking to the body as well as catching Miocic on some of his clinch exits.
The problem for Miocic in this bout was the he simply wasn’t patient enough in his approach. Along the fence, he would throw wild, looping shots and Dos Santos would manage to circle off in time. In an attempt to capitalize on Dos Santos’ poor footwork and cage craft, Miocic wound up getting too eager and letting knockout opportunities slip through his fingers. Combined with his near-useless takedown attempts that become more and more telegraphed, the holes in Miocic’s strategy allowed Dos Santos enough room to find success.
The major turning point was Dos Santos’ left hook in the third round. Miocic keeps his right hand at the level of his shoulders most of the time, which meant that his more upright posture leaves his chin exposed. Along the fence, Dos Santos was moving right and Miocic fired a jab, which was slipped on the inside. Miocic launched a big right cross that rolled off Dos Santos’ shoulder as Dos Santos was ducking left. As Miocic was moving forward from his right cross, Dos Santos landed a massive left hook as Stipe’s hips were completely square that decked him and changed the momentum of the fight dramatically. Now the two were on more even terms.
Watching it again with context in mind, Miocic vs. Dos Santos I really is one of the best heavyweight fights ever. A lot of this is due to how bone-tired Stipe was at the end of the third. Stipe was breathing very heavy after getting hurt and from JDS’ relentless body assault, but he still found it in himself to dig past his exhaustion and make it to a decision. Miocic’s stance and body language told the story. There wasn’t the notable spring in his step, instead standing flat and reactively moving his head off the centerline. As Stipe tired, his ability to close the distance on JDS waned, so instead of working with the cage to create opportunities, Stipe would wing wide shots and try to cover ground with blitzes, most of which didn’t land.
The final round of the fight showed Dos Santos as the more active one of the two, just picking and piecing his shots wherever he saw fit against an exhausted Stipe. But, what shined through here for Stipe was his durability and toughness. He just refused to go away, and he forced Dos Santos to fight through tooth and nail to get the win. In the end, it was a spectacular fight and a pretty unsurprising decision for the former champion.
Dos Santos’ long strategy of attacking the body and stuffing the takedown worked against Miocic, breaking his cardio down in the later rounds and denting his output, allowing the more experienced former champion to outwork his opponent. However, given that Miocic had been working Dos Santos diligently up until the knockdown at the halfway point and that Dos Santos wasn’t looking much like the murderous knockout artist he had climbed the ranks as, most analysts saw this victory as more of a loss for Dos Santos than anything. He may’ve gotten the win, but it was not a performance indicative of a title contender or even a particularly fresh fighter ready to compete with the best.
So much post fight criticism was lobbed at Dos Santos in the aftermath that Miocic’s actual professional loss seemed secondary by comparison. Most people gave Stipe credit for going five rounds with a former champion and giving him all he could handle. The criticism was more that Stipe’s gas tank had failed him and that he tried too hard to replicate Cain’s strategy unsuccessfully. No one marked this loss to hard against him, and a couple analysts actually said it probably boosted his stock more than hampered it. No one could’ve predicted what Stipe was on the cusp of, however.
After the bout, Stipe said in an interview, "The lesson I learned, not even really a lesson as much as, just knowing that I belong. I belong, that I can hang anyone. I went five rounds with a former champ, a guy who has been a knockout artist and I went five rounds with him, I know I belong. I know that I’m not going anywhere, and look at where I’m at now." Miocic's attitude towards his loss, combined with the technical lessons he learned here, served as the last major technical development in his approach to fighting. This loss is what turned Miocic from a prospect into a legitimate contender. All he needed was to bounce back.
2015: Stipe Miocic vs. Mark Hunt
I didn't want to write about this fight, nor did I want to revisit it. However, since it presents maybe the most complete performance from Miocic to date, it's worth mentioning. In his rebounding fight from the Dos Santos war, Miocic was given Hunt in Adelaide, Australia. Only a -160 favorite against the hometown favorite, Miocic vs. Hunt was supposed to be an exciting, fun action fight for the audience.
What ensued was one of the most cruel (almost sadistic), one-sided beatdowns the sport has ever seen.
Miocic's jab made a triumphant return against Hunt. Instead of just blitzing Hunt, Miocic began by stalking Hunt and cutting angles in the pocket when Hunt leaped in. Against a more footslow opponent, Miocic would sting his jab and follow with a cross before cutting an outside angle and circling. Snap singles were an easy catch for Stipe all night, and Hunt just had no answer for Stipe’s physicality or athleticism.
Better defense for Miocic was on display in this bout. He would keep his left forearm high, and catch Hunt's looping shots coming in. He combined better hand parries with shoulder rolls, along with just taking better angles in the pocket. For the moments that this fight took place on the feet, Miocic was thoroughly in control. As Hunt would duck his head and loop, Stipe would fire a jab, time a duck under, or just cut an angle. From the opening bell, Miocic looked at least two steps faster than his opponent.
Unfortunately, most of this fight took place on the mat, and instead of a messily fun grappling match like Rothwell vs. Hunt, Stipe absolutely buried his opponent in a never-ending barrage of ground strikes. Stipe landed 6 of 8 takedown attempts on Hunt, and landed 361 total strikes out of 464. There are at least three moments that the fight could’ve been justifiably stopped, and there was no reason for the fight to go past Round 3. If you have to score more than one round in a fight a 10-7, then chances are the corner and the ref just aren’t doing their job. (Drinking Game: Take a shot any time the ref says, “Fight back, Mark!”) It was an absolutely irresponsible job from the referee and from Hunt’s own corner. Even Miocic looked a bit tired of hitting Hunt at one point.
In a more positive light, Miocic appeared to have cleaned up his conditioning from his first fight with Dos Santos. Gassing out in the championship rounds cost him the win against JDS, though some of this was due to JDS’ diligent body work. Against Hunt, however, Miocic didn’t gas after the fifth round, despite delivering a legendary pummeling. Defense and conditioning were Stipe’s tangible improvements here, but they were at the expense of seeing one the sport’s most beloved action fighters being brutalized.
2016: Stipe Miocic vs. Fabricio Werdum
After destroying Arlovski's feel good comeback streak in under 60 seconds, Miocic was finally awarded the golden ticket he had been begging (yelling) for. Granted, Stipe wasn't supposed to win this fight, nor was he expected to. Werdum was coming off a brutal beating and submission over Cain Velasquez, in a fight that he wasn't supposed to win himself.
Dana decided that Cain wasn't worth waiting on for a rematch, so Miocic was up next to face Werdum in Brazil at UFC 198. Most of the pre-fight discussion centered around Werdum cementing himself as the greatest heavyweight of all time with a win at home. If Werdum could successfully defend his title, he would be next to Fedor as the best ever in his division. Maybe even superseding the Russian. A lot of analysts were picking Werdum to win the clinch, dominate the ground should it end up there, and deny Miocic comfort at range. Closing as a -200 favorite, this fight was meant to be a homecoming celebration for Werdum.
Of course, Stipe didn't care about a hero's welcome and instead put together a short, but tactically brilliant performance, becoming just the second man to ever stop Werdum.
Werdum has always been inhumanly durable, but defensively porous. And even before his legendary charge into oblivion, Miocic was making reads on Werdum's lack of developed defense. Miocic timed his front leg kick on Werdum whenever Werdum tried to step in. After seeing Cain get pulverized in the clinch against Werdum, Miocic wisely broke the clinch whenever they engaged. Active feints and working his back leg kick were also present tactics.
As Werdum put up his forearm guard, Stipe’s jab would pierce through it. Stipe's stubbornness in the pocket frustrated Werdum and denied him free kicking range. Stipe was jabbing and angling around Werdum's guard, pivoting off the cage and moving away from Werdum's punches. Nothing remarkable, but everything done with intent. As Werdum would attempt to kick his legs, Miocic would counter with jabs or get off preemptive leg kicks of his own.
Eventually, Werdum decided that this patient approach wasn't working and he barreled toward Stipe. Doubling up on punches, rushing forward with his chin, and plodding after him. Miocic patiently circled along the cage and landed a picture-perfect back step counter cross and knocked Werdum out cold to the horror of the Brazilian audience in attendance.
It may be easy to think that Werdum just handed Miocic the win on a silver platter by rushing at him, but it’s important to remember: There just aren’t that many heavyweights on the roster with the technical foundation that could’ve delivered that shot successfully. Miocic didn’t flinch or shell and retreat when Werdum rushed him. He kept his composure, kept his feet tight, and landed a short right as Werdum ran right into it. A perfect collision.
What happened next became a trademark Miocic moment, and one that will likely be remember by MMA fans for a long time to come. Sprinting over to his corner after the referee called the bout, Stipe flipped over the cage, embraced the men in his corner, and shouted several times over, "I'm a world champ! I'm world champ!", almost as if he couldn't believe it himself. Rising against all odds, the former baseball prospect had earned his first world championship in emphatic fashion. But, the journey was far from over.
2016: Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem
This was a battle between the clear-cut top two in the division. A win for either man would cement them as an active, legitimate champion in a division plagued by Cain and Werdum’s inactivity. Overeem’s UFC run had its fair share of ups-and-downs leading to this fight, but on a four-fight winning streak (with consecutive wins over Dos Santos and Arlovski), Overeem was the clear #1 contender for the heavyweight title even before Miocic knocked out Werdum. A win for Overeem meant that he was definitively the most decorated heavyweight in MMA history, while a win for Miocic cemented him as a legitimately deserving champion, not just one in the right place at the right time.
The biggest issue with Miocic in this bout was him biting on Overeem’s feints right from the get-go. Overeem would feint a kick and Miocic’s entire body would buckle in an attempt to defend it. Beyond this, Miocic also didn’t corral Overeem particularly efficiently, opting to fight him in open space instead of limiting his weaponry against the fence. Overeem’s horrific defense was on full display here, using a loose forearm guard and backing straight out of exchanges, but since Miocic was trying to fight Overeem in open space, he wasn’t breaking Overeem’s path of movement along the fence and (subsequently) wasn’t landing as much early as he should’ve been.
Miocic didn’t pressure with linearity as much here, instead pressuring to a lateral left angle, allowing Overeem to spin off the right. Early in the fight, it seemed like Miocic was maybe a bit too eager getting Overeem where he wanted him and it almost cost him his title. A short left off of Overeem’s reset dropped Miocic as he was on one leg, leaving his neck exposed. Overeem dove on a guillotine. The champion was in the first real danger of his title run.
According to Brenden Schaub, Stipe Miocic is extraordinary difficult to submit. Given that Stipe’s only submission win has come via leg kicks against a fighter looking for a way out, Miocic’s strengths clearly do not lie in submission offense. But, as a notably tough guy to tap, Stipe’s vaunted submission defense held up extremely well in a dire moment.
As Overeem grabbed a hold of Miocic’s neck with his right arm, Miocic instinctively spun to his knees and starts digging for wrist control on Overeem’s left. As Overeem tried to dig his hips under to pull guard on the guillotine, Miocic launched his legs up and forced his hips through the air before spinning to his right, to the weaker side of Overeem’s guillotine. Eventually, he managed to squeeze his hips far enough to his right to break Overeem’s leg guard and pop back to his feet.
Back on the feet, Overeem remains in southpaw and Miocic tries to shake the cobwebs as he puts the pressure on his opponent. What began turning the tide in Stipe’s favor was his sense to start catching Overeem on his resets. As Overeem would feint between both directions, Miocic would start firing combinations in the midst of Overeem’s feinting. As Stipe started to land, Overeem started to wing and Stipe started to fight smarter. The improved defense from the Hunt bout was making a bit of a return, where Miocic would cut under the looping strikes to angle off and land straights. His staple jab through Overeem’s forearm guard began showing its face as well.
When Overeem shelled, Stipe would fire uppercuts to pop Overeem’s head over his forearm guard and throw hooks to the exposed chin of his opponent. Miocic began working steadily, gaining momentum. Stipe broke the clinch when he needed to, forced Overeem to retreat into a shell, and plugged away at his opponent. In the final seconds of the round, Miocic picks off a low single off of a step-in from Overeem, rushes him to the mat, and pounds him into oblivion in front of an adoring Ohio crowd. The champ had solidified his reign.
Truthfully, this is a particularly ugly fight from both men. Overeem spends more time turning and resetting than he does fighting, and Miocic got tagged really early with a big shot that hurt him. But, even with a less-than-picture-perfect result, Miocic still deserves credit for battling through adversity and proving why he holds the crown. If Miocic was giftwrapped the cleanest path to victory against Werdum, then his win over Overeem proved Miocic's ability to win the opposite kind of fight. This fight showed the chinks in Stipe's armor, but it also showed that despite those flaws, he would still be a monstrously difficult fighter to break.
2017: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos II
The rematch between Miocic and Dos Santos happened earlier this year, and it was bit out-of-nowhere, to be frank. Dos Santos was on a one fight win streak over Rothwell. Just prior in December, he got flatlined by Overeem in a performance reminiscent of a shot fighter. But, being the last guy to beat Miocic was enough, since Cain has proven himself awfully unreliable in recent years. So, the rematch was made. Some expected another war, some expected the old JDS to show up, and some (like myself) weren't sold on Dos Santos' durability. What followed was another outstanding performance from the champion that showed maturity, decision-making, and tangible improvements.
This was a short fight, but the biggest change from the first fight was a pretty simple strategic one; no takedowns. Miocic wore himself out against Dos Santos in their first fight by shooting for takedowns, almost all of them winding up fruitless. (Fight Metric reads Miocic officially went 1 for 18 takedown attempts, which is absolutely terrible by any measure.) It seemed like Miocic was trying to replicate Cain's approach, but lacking Cain's trademark cardio and unbreakable pressure.
In the rematch, however, Stipe took a more measured approach with his developed style. Instead of pressuring Overeem with lateral angles, Stipe walked Dos Santos down linearly, directing the former champion's movement against the fence. His footwork looked tighter; smaller steps as he moves in, quicker retreats. As Dos Santos would circle into the corners of the fence, Miocic would fire with combinations and hit him while Dos Santos was stuck in between the cage walls. He corralled Dos Santos quickly, and attacked him right as Dos Santos was cornering himself. As Dos Santos attempted to clinch, Miocic framed immediately and kneed his way out.
Dos Santos had a decent strategy early, which saw him wearing down Miocic's front left leg with low kicks. After eating a few, Miocic tried to check them but his shin was already broken open within two minutes of the first round. Maybe it was Miocic recognizing his weakening mobility or maybe it was just a lucky break, but after reeling a bit from his carved-up shin, Miocic forced Dos Santos to retreat and circle along the cage before directing his movement with a left hook, cornering his opponent, and cracking him with a short right. Similar setup to the Maldonado knockout. A perfect collision. Gone were the looping shots and clinch brawling from the first bout. Miocic kept his punches much tighter and shorter, instead opting for positioning and accuracy than raw power.
Oddly enough, I don't even know if Miocic would've pushed for the finish if his leg wasn't giving out, but it turned out to be a blessing because the notoriously durable former champion crumpled as Stipe's feet in record time as soon as Stipe decided to gun it. Another title defense down. A loss avenged. A new scalp to add to an increasing collection.
This is the best version of Stipe Miocic that we've seen thus far, and easily the most efficient. Making the snap decision on the fly to rush the finish turned out to be the best possible outcome, and not abandoning his tactical approach makes it even more impressive. JDS might’ve been trying to fight another long fight, but the champ wasn’t having any of it. He utilized patience, feints, and commanding cage craft to win this bout and it might be his most remarkable performance thus far.
Conclusion
Stipe Miocic is one of my favorite fighters in the world to watch, and his exciting, fan-friendly style is a big part of this. Moreover, though, seeing his progression and growth through the last five years has been nothing short of incredible. He deserves all the credit in the world for his evolving style and his legendary work ethic. Stipe has proven himself a worthy champion in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
He has proven his ability to made modest adjustments in his technical game between fights, tailored to specific opponents. Stipe has shown an objective honesty with his skillset, and has worked diligently to sew up the holes in his game. During his reign, Cain Velasquez would mostly shrug off his opponent’s offence and force his game, regardless of what came back. Conversely, Stipe Miocic takes a more measured, careful approach and works to minimize the strengths of his opponents, while forcing his own at the right moments.
Simply put, Stipe Miocic is just getting really good at knocking people out. I’ve talked a lot about the evolution of Stipe and his ability to blend different facets of MMA, but the truth is, his best work has come from paring down his style into something less general. A more focused game with more emphasis on power and landing at the right moments, and less on landing as much as possible from anywhere. Whoever is fighting Miocic next needs to force him back. Otherwise…have fun.
Stipe may not look like the terror that he is, and he might not carry himself like the king of his division. He’s just a hardworking guy with great technical skill, great instincts, great athletic gifts, and a great sense of how to fight people. He’s not a volume wrestleboxer anymore. He's not a poor man's Cain Velasquez. He’s not an opportunistic athlete who managed to get lucky from the chips falling in the right way.
He's a monster. He’s a world champ.
submitted by dmarty77 to MMA [link] [comments]

UFC 188 Betting Predictions

The Odds
Main Card
Cain Velasquez (-485) vs. Fabricio Werdum (+385)
Gilbert Melendez (-175) vs. Eddie Alvarez (+155)
Kelvin Gastelum (-440) vs. Nate Marquardt (+350)
Charles Rosa (-230) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+190)
Tecia Torres (-310) vs. Angela Hill (+255)
Undercard:
Henry Cejudo (-1000) vs. Chico Camus (+650)
Drew Dober (-155) vs. Efrain Escudero (+135)
Johnny Case (-380) vs. Francisco Trevino (+315)
Alejandro Perez (-165) vs. Patrick Williams (+145)
Augusto Montano (-155) vs. Cathal Pendred (+135)
Clay Collard (-250) vs. Gabriel Benitez (+210)
Albert Tumenov (-440) vs. Andrew Todhunter (+350)
Discuss value bets, parlays, and the bets you'll be making this weekend. Good luck everyone!
submitted by NotOverHisEX to MMA [link] [comments]

UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum odds & betting lines. UFC/MMA odds comparison service. Compare the latest UFC/MMA fight odds and betting lines from the top online sportsbooks Oleinik vs Werdum Betting Picks. This is an exciting bout as both fighters are very technical and for students of MMA, this will be fighting that they can learn a lot from. With the history and success of Werdum in the UFC, he is an easy bet to pick and Best Sportsbook sees him carrying the advantage into this matchup. Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum: Early Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For UFC Heavyweight Fight. Betting Odds: Velasquez enters the bout as a -550 favorite, via Bovada.lv. Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum. Odds: Fighter 5Dimes Bovada Pinnacle; Velasquez-480-550-508: Werdum +423 +375 +429: UFC 188 Betting Preview: Velasquez vs. Werdum Got something to say Latest online betting lines for UFC 188 explained for Cain Velasquez vs Fabricio Werdum-led pay-per-view (PPV) event from Arena Ciudad in Mexico City, Mexico, including sportsbook best bets, under

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