Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight prospect Stipe Miocic headlines UFC on FUEL TV 5 this Saturday night (Sept. 29 2012) against lanky Dutchman Stefan Struve at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England.
A clash between heavyweight prospects, the main event of UFC on FUEL 5 seeks to determine which of these combatants is ready for a step up in competition. With eight finishes in nine fights, Miocic is looking for his fourth win in less than one year and to raise his stock even higher in the top-heavy division.
Does Miocic have the skill set to continue his domination as he progresses to the upper tier of the UFC heavyweight division?
Let's find out.
Miocic won the Cleveland Golden Gloves boxing in 2009 and his striking has looked explosive in the Octagon. His striking is equally dangerous when he is pushing forward or when he is countering his opponents attacks.
Stipe's boxing comprises mostly jabs and a hard straight right hand, but he has also incorporated body shots and a violent left hook into his arsenal. Stipe's best weapon is his right cross. Developed from years of playing baseball in high school and college, Stipe whips his fist at his opponent very quickly. Despite largely throwing power punches, Stipe lands a high percentage of his strikes.
In addition to his boxing, Stipe has brutal low kicks and good knees from the Muay Thai clinch. Stipe mixes his leg kicks into his boxing combinations to slow down heavyweights he is generally already quicker than. From the Muay Thai clinch, Stipe lands hard knees to the face before stepping away to throw more powerful right straights.
Despite his effective offense and counters, Stipe has shown serious problems when it comes to protecting his chin. Against grappler Philip De Fries, Stipe was tagged a few times before waking up and blasting him into unconsciousness. In his fight with Muay Thai champion Shane del Rosario, he aggressively pushed forward, but repeatedly ate kicks to the liver and an assortment of punches.
Stipe wrestled at Cleveland State University and it shows. While he generally opts for a sprawl and brawl game plan, Stipe has turned to his wrestling when his defense lets him down. When he does decide to wrestle, Stipe prefers to shoot for a single leg takedown. After he gets a firm grip on the leg, he turns his entire body and dumps them onto the mat. This is an especially great technique in the heavyweight division, as balance isn't exactly common in the heavyweight division.
Against iron chinned brawler Joey Beltran, Stipe's cardio began to fail him in the second and third round. Instead of continuing to stand and risk being knocked out, Stipe took down the high school wrestler over and over, dominating him on the ground for an easy unanimous decision.
After a rough first round against del Rosario, Stipe decided he'd had enough of being kicked. Again using his single leg takedown, he threw Shane to the mat at the end of the first round. Not long after, the round ended. About a minute into the second round, Stipe ducked a punch to grab a clinch and drove Shane onto his back. A few minutes later, Miocic left Shane half conscious and covered in blood from a hail of elbow strikes.
In Stipe's relatively short mixed martial arts (MMA) career, he has never submitted someone or been submitted by anyone. Even though he hasn't spent much time on the ground, he has demonstrated solid basics, control and submission defense. He has also shown very good scrambling skills, almost always ending up on top.
Against Del Roasrio, who is known for his dangerous guard, Stipe completely shut his offense down from the top. Repeatedly passing guard, Stipe dropped devastating punches without ever being threatened by a submission or sweep. Similarly, he took down Beltran, passed his guard, and took his back with ease.
Stipe is a great athlete. Earning eight varsity letters in high school, Stipe has had success in every sport he has tried. In addition to a successful high school sports career, Stipe wrestled and played baseball in college, even being scouted by the MLB.
At about 240 pounds, Miocic is a dangerous combination of quick and strong. Stipe is more agile than most heavyweights. This allows him to attack first with his striking or wrestling and get out before they can counter. In addition to his speed, he is very strong and able to hold his own in the clinch and often out muscle fighters if he has to.
Outside of his debut against Beltran, Stipe's cardio has looked great. This outlier is most likely because of the infamous "Octagon jitters" and Beltran's relentless attack. Since that fight, Miocic ate body shots from del Rosario that would sap the average heavyweight's cardio, only to come out in the second round more energized and ready to fight.
Against his biggest step up in competition yet, will Stipe be able to maintain his perfect record?