Two undefeated heavyweight prospects stepped into the cage last night (May 26, 2012) as Stipe Miocic took on Strikeforce veteran Shane del Rosario on the UFC 146 main card in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Someone's "0" had to go.
Del Rosario entered the bout having been a highly successful kickboxer and one of Strikeforce's "can't miss" up-and-coming fighters, while Miocic was already building a case as one of the better young heavyweights in the UFC.
Miocic had some trouble early, but what adjustment did he make to completely take over and finish this fight? And what happens next for both men?
Follow me after the jump four our Stipe Miocic vs. Shane del Rosario post-fight review and analysis.
Early on, it was a battle of del Rosario's lethal kicks versus Miocic's crisp punching combinations. Del Rosario repeatedly went to the body, nailing Miocic in the liver with some heavy kicks, but the Strong Style fighter fired back, pressing the action, moving forward and constantly backing del Rosario into the fence with his constant pressure-based attack.
Del Rosario mixed things up nicely, throwing some big leg kicks as well both to the inside and outside of Miocic's lead left leg, and he clocked the Croatian-American with a heavy right hand with 90 seconds remaining, but couldn't put him away.
After eating another combination and then a head kick, Miocic wised up with 20 seconds remaining and closed the distance, securing a body lock and dumping del Rosario on his back. This would be a very important precedent for things to come.
In the second round, Miocic didn't mess around, pressing the action and then taking del Rosario down, attacking aggressively with strikes once he had him there and showing no concern for his opponent's submission game. Del Rosario also seemed to rather hang on and hope for a stand-up rather than try to sweep or attack Miocic from bottom. That was a good idea with Yves Levign refereeing, the man who let Miller-Dollaway go the full 15 minutes on the ground.
From half guard, Miocic blasted del Rosario with some short elbows and hammer fists which opened up the California-based fighter and began to cause some major bleeding. This distraction allowed Miocic to pass to full mount and from there, it was only a matter of time. Despite del Rosario retaining half guard, Miocic dropped some heavy elbows and it was all she wrote as the ref stepped in and put a stop to it.
Stopping the bout was definitely the right call as del Rosario was on some seriously rubber legs once he got to his feet.
For Shane del Rosario, he looked pretty solid here on the feet, throwing leg, head and body kicks with major power and mixing up some nice punches as well. It was his lack of takedown defense and an inability to get up from off his back which came back to bite him. Nowhere in this fight did we see the man who submitted an opponent with an omaplata off his back. Instead, he was trying to stall and play defense on the ground and Miocic took advantage.
This was a very tough bout for someone making their UFC debut after well over a year off due to a car accident. I still think del Rosario has potential, he just needs a fight against someone a bit lower down the ladder. Look for him to step in against someone like Ednaldo Oliveira, Dave Herman or perhaps Christian Morecraft next.
For Stipe Miocic, he made the necessary adjustments to take over this fight and all the power to him. His defense is still a bit shaky on the feet as he got caught with some heavy kicks and some big punches in this fight. Against a more powerful puncher, he could hav ebeen in some serious trouble. I also didn't like that he repeatedly let del Rosario off the hook after connecting with a nice combination and backing him into the fence. If your opponent is giving you an opportunity to unload a flurry against the fence, go for it! Regardless, Miocic's well-roundedness definitely helped him out here as his ground and pound was terrific and those fight-finishing elbows were as good as you can hope for.
I think a bout against Stefan Struve would make a ton of sense. Other options include Roy Nelson or perhaps another Strikeforce heavyweight like Shawn Jordan. It would be very interesting to see just how good he can be once he tightens up his game.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did this fight go just about as you expected? What did you make of Miocic's ground and pound? Can del Rosario recover from his first professional defeat?
For complete UFC 146 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.