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UFC on FOX 13 fight card: Junior dos Santos vs Stipe Miocic fight preview

Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic collide in what is likely a title eliminator later TONIGHT (Sat., Dec. 13, 2014) at UFC on FOX 13 inside U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. With so much on the line, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out how below!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight standouts Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic will go to war this Saturday (Dec. 13, 2014) at UFC on FOX 13 inside U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

When he's not fighting heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez, dos Santos has been untouchable. The boxing specialist routinely tears through top contenders, usually in violent fashion, and will look to make Miocic his next victim.

Meanwhile, Miocic has been slowly building up a 6-1 record inside the Octagon. With key victories over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga in this streak, Miocic has earned this bout against the former champion.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each man:

Junior dos Santos
Record: 16-3
Key Wins: Cain Velasquez (UFC on FOX 1), Mark Hunt (UFC 160), Frank Mir (UFC 146)
Key Losses: Cain Velasquez (UFC 155, UFC 166)
Keys to Victory: Dos Santos is one of the very best boxers in the sport. With his powerful punches, dos Santos has separated an impressive 12 opponent's from their consciousness.

For the first time since his loss to Velasquez, dos Santos will be challenged by a fighter who can simultaneously threaten with his wrestling and punches. Needless to say, it didn't go so well for "Cigano" last time.

Since both dos Santos and Velasquez are likely to remain atop the heavyweight mountain for some time, dos Santos should be preparing for another fight with his nemesis. Quite frankly, those two have made it clear they're far ahead of the rest of the division -- with the possible exception of Fabricio Werdum -- meaning there's a decent chance that there will be a fourth match.

Therefore, "JDS" needs to focus on his footwork. Backing himself into the fence cost dos Santos quite dearly in both bouts with Velasquez, and it's an area he must improve.

Additionally, dos Santos should punish Miocic for any takedown attempts. Velasquez was able to shoot with impunity, as "Cigano" simply sprawled then backed away. Instead, dos Santos needs to punish his opponent with punches or reverse position should he stuff a Miocic takedown.

Stipe Miocic
Record: 12-1
Key Wins: Roy Nelson (UFC 161), Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC on FOX 10)
Key Losses: Stefan Struve (UFC on Fuel TV 5)
Keys to Victory: Miocic is a former division 1 wrestler. Additionally, he possess some nice technical boxing, which is backed by his nasty low kicks.

Miocic may fancy himself a boxer, but he's not a match for dos Santos in a strict striking battle. Instead, he needs to use the threat of his wrestling to open up punching opportunities.

Frankly, Velasquez wrote out the game plan to defeat dos Santos. At this point, there's no other strategy that has repeated, proven success against the Brazilian.

Plus, Miocic has the two base skills necessary to re-enact Velasquez's win.

Whether or not he's capable of pulling off the victory is a completely different discussion. However, there's not likely to be a better path to victory for Miocic than the one that Velasquez utilized against "JDS" twice.

Finally, Miocic needs to be very, very careful with his low kicks in this bout. Dos Santos has a history of flattening his opponent's who attempt to low kick him without set up, which is a sin that Miocic is occasionally guilty of. "Cigano" is not Gonzaga; Miocic cannot simply absorb these counters and wait for his opponent to slow down.

Bottom Line: With such a dearth of contenders at heavyweight, this bout is pretty vital to the division.

For dos Santos, this is the start of his comeback trail. If he can come back after a lengthy layoff and blow through Miocic without issue, then his fans will be happy to back him once more. It won't be easy, but a fourth match up with Velasquez is not impossible. Plus, dos Santos definitely wants to be coming off a victory if Werdum unites the titles.

However, a loss would bring about many questions about "Cigano's" place in the division. Miocic has been impressive, but he's never dominated foes like dos Santos or Velasquez did on their rise. It would also raise questions about the effects of the two beatings that dos Santos received from Velasquez.

This is Miocic's first real opportunity to step up. If he can defeat the former champion, Miocic announces himself as a legit contender to Velasquez's crown and proven heavyweight commodity.

Still, Miocic is facing one of the best heavyweights ever in just the fourth year of his professional career. If he does lose, there will undoubtedly be other opportunities in Miocic's future, as a loss to dos Santos is definitely forgivable.

It's certainly a huge step up from Fabio Maldonado.

Will Junior dos Santos return to his winning ways or can Miocic pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year?

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