Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight bruisers Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos will rematch TONIGHT (May 13, 2017) at UFC 211 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Since their first match, Miocic has been untouchable. He rebounded from that loss by utterly dominating Mark Hunt, then the champion put together three straight first round knockouts to secure and defend the strap. Meanwhile, dos Santos hasn’t been quite as active. He came up short immediately after taking out Miocic, but “JDS” bounced back with a strong showing just a few months back. Now, he’ll look to regain the title he lost way back in 2012.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 198), Alistair Overeem (UFC 203), Mark Hunt (UFC Fight Night 65), Andrei Arlovski (UFC 195)
Key Losses: Junior dos Santos (UFC on FOX 13), Stefan Struve (UFC on Fuel TV 5)
Keys to Victory: Miocic is a well-rounded and stellar athlete who thrives in transitions between wrestling and boxing. Lately, his pace and activity have also been a huge weapon, which could be significant in a championship fight.
Last time around, Miocic went full Cain Velasquez. Rather than work from the edge of his range, jabbing and feinting, Miocic dove forward and drove his opponent into the fence at all costs. It wasn’t entirely successful. Miocic pinned his foe to the fence and landed big shots, but he also ate counters and fatigued himself in the process.
In the rematch, it would be best for Miocic to rely on his smooth transitions rather than pure aggression and forward pressure. Miocic has the technical boxing to compete with dos Santos at range — he doesn’t have to fear exchanges with the Brazilian.
It would still be best for Miocic to initiate wrestling exchanges and work dos Santos against the fence. If he strikes with dos Santos at range, however, he should be able to duck into his single and use that to jam “JDS” into the fence without expending so much energy on obvious shots.
Junior dos Santos
Key Wins: Stipe Miocic (UFC on FOX 13), Cain Velasquez (UFC on FOX 1), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 86), Mark Hunt (UFC 160)
Key Losses: Cain Velasquez (UFC 155, UFC 166), Alistair Overeem (UFC on FOX 17)
Keys to Victory: Dos Santos’ core game hasn’t changed much of the years — dos Santos controls range well and punishes his opponent with crisp punches — but it looked sharper than ever in his last bout. Additionally, dos Santos remains incredibly difficult to take down, making him a legitimate threat to the champ.
In this match, dos Santos’ biggest key is avoiding the fence. It’s true that Miocic can trade with “JDS,” but given enough time, dos Santos’ experience edge will shine through. If he can establish his range and setups, an overhand will come Miocic’s way before long.
To keep from getting trapped, dos Santos needs to keep up the movement he showed in his fight with Rothwell. By circling actively and jamming his foe up with body shots, dos Santos ate punches along the fence far less often. In addition, dos Santos should consider adding some reactive takedowns to his strategy. Miocic stands tall, and “JDS” has a damn decent running double-leg takedown. If he puts Miocic on his back once or twice, he could really deter his opponent’s pressure.
Bottom Line: It’s a Heavyweight title fight. It’s also a rematch of a fantastic scrap. Why wouldn’t you watch this?
This fight has some major consequences for Miocic. If he wins, he ties the Heavyweight record for title defenses. Furthermore, his next defense would likely be a rematch with either Fabricio Werdum or Alistair Overeem. He has knocked them both out already, so his chances of securing that elusive third title defense aren’t half bad. Alternatively, Heavyweight is a ruthless division. A single punch could end Miocic’s reign, though he wouldn’t be all that far off from earning another shot considering the division’s current state.
For dos Santos, it’s already a pretty impressive accomplishment that he bounced back from his slump to earn this shot, but becoming a two-time champion would be huge. A victory would definitely stand as one of the better career turnarounds in recent years. If dos Santos comes up short, he’s still a top Heavyweight contender. The belt could change hands at any moment, and even if Miocic holds onto the strap, there would still be potential for a trilogy match.
TONIGHT at UFC 211, Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos will rematch. Which man will leave the cage strapped with gold?