Photo by Matt Ryerson via US PRESSWIRE
Stipe Miocic is considered to be one of the UFC heavyweight division's top prospects. Here's a closer look at how he earned that distinction as he heads into his Saturday night fight against Stefan Struve in Nottingham.
In May 2010, Stipe Miocic was curtain-jerking for Tim Sylvia and Mariusz Pudzianowski, who headlined the Moosin: "Gods of Martial Arts" online pay-per-view (PPV) from the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, alongside grizzled veterans and longtime journeymen Yves Edwards, Travis Lutter and Forrest Petz.
Now, the former NCAA Division I wrestler is doing some headlining of his own.
Miocic will take center stage against fellow heavyweight hopeful Stefan Struve this Saturday afternoon (Sept. 29, 2012) in the main event of the UFC on FUEL TV 5 broadcast, which emanates from the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England.
Those are the kinds of opportunities you're afforded when you rip through the 265-pound weight class with ease.
After using Joey Beltran as a punching bag in his Octagon debut, Miocic (9-0) was paired with another undefeated prospect named Philip De Fries, who coasted into the inaugural event with eight straight wins and seven submission finishes.
The ground game; however, would not be a factor.
On Feb. 15 of this year, Miocic demonstrated the kind of striking that earned him a Golden Gloves championship, the NAFFS heavyweight title and eventually, "Knockout of the Night."
Like every mixed martial arts (MMA) fight, this one starts on the feet. De Fries defies his own resume and opens with a hard right hand that cracks the opposing cranium. Miocic doesn't even bat an eyelash. Because the first one came without much resistance, the Brit rattles off a few more.
Disaster nearly strikes.
Mirko Cro Cop's number one fan is tagged hard and stumbles. Cageside commentator Kenny Florian with an emotional Doppler effect: "THAT RIGHT HAND ROCKED MIOCIC ... he's in trouble there." De Fries rushes in for an encore but the former collegiate wrestler gets on his bicycle and rides to safety.
Confident, De Fries recklessly lumbers in to secure what he appears to believe will be his first-ever win by knockout. Instead, he's stung hard with an uppercut and fists begin to fly. What starts as a technical exchange quickly dissolves into a rock 'em, sock 'em robot rush.
The Englishman does not survive.
A counter left hand sends him into reverse with only the cage to break his fall. Miocic gallops in and unloads punches in bunches. De Fries crumbles and gets a few coconut crackers until referee Dan Miragliotta realizes it's his job to stop it.
The official time is 4:17 of round one. The official result is "Knockout of the Night."
In the aftermath of his eighth straight win, we come to realize Miocic can take a few shots en route to finishing his opponent. But how many will he (or can he) take while attempting to topple the six-foot-eleven, 255-pound "Skyscraper?"