Miocic vs. Dos Santos II A UFC 211 Fight study

COMPARATIVE PARTICULARS

first fight

The first fight ended in a fairly controversial decision. Many scored it for JDS while other notable media outlets, members and fans scored it Miocic. Even today, Kenny Florian stated he originally scored the fight for the current heavyweight champion and believes he won the fight. It was a close fight but I do believe the original outcome, a unanimous decision in favor of JDS, was the correct one. I scored the first two rounds for Miocic while giving rounds 3-5 to JDS.

As many do, they turn to FightMetric for answers to back their claims in support of Miocic's victory or perhaps even a draw. For example, arguments have been made that Miocic was often the aggressor and three out of the five rounds he landed a higher percentage of significant strikes. Albeit true, that doesn't tell the story of the fight and the finer details which paint the picture of combat sports. JDS threw at a higher volume of 322 total strikes compared to Miocic's 206. The time in between Miocic's significant strikes were filled with JDS slipping shots while landing his jabs at range then following up with his own significant strikes. Some of Miocic's aggression was actually him initiating a clinch and pressing JDS against the cage to catch his breath but not being effective with takedowns or strikes. In fact, JDS scored a takedown off of one of the clinches. But JDS essentially out boxed Miocic to win the fight showing better striking at range, in addition to being the more well conditioned fighter. JDS wore a lot of visible damage but the scare tissue above his eyes from previous bouts must be factored in - especially if everyone is going to do it for Nick and Nate Diaz. Don't forget to account for the knock down JDS scored in round three.

To summarize, I agree with the outcome of the first fight being a unanimous decision although I don't entirely agree with scorecards at the time. Although it took JDS a little bit to get his rhythm, he was able to capitalize on Miocic's inability to keep constant, effective pressure and out strike him over the course of five rounds... after a grueling fight with Cain Velasquez... after a year and a month between fights.

CIGANO

JUNIOR 'CIGANO' DOS SANTOS

Tough fights with Cain Velasquez. Injuries. Camp migration. These are likely the main contributing factors to Junior's absence from the cage. His most recent fight was in April of 2016 against Ben Rothwell which he won handily by decision and looking better than he had in awhile. He fought only once in 2015, once in 2014 and almost exactly a year prior was his third fight with Cain Velasquez. Many would agree that JDS hasn't looked the same since his second fight with Cain but what makes that concept interesting is that he fought Miocic after that fight. A depleted, injured JDS after a year lay off and a move to Nova Unaio still outworked, dropped and defeated the current UFC heavyweight champion.

Now Junior is training full time at American Top Team, a move he made in preparation for Alistair Overeem in 2015. I'm not sure what improvements JDS made in that fight because he almost did nothing up until the early stoppage by the referee. I do think his movement was much better than what we saw in recent years but it's tough to gauge anything else. Although the fight could've kept going, it was likely that he would lose by decision anyway. But we saw a much better version of JDS, finally, in his fight against Rothwell. He was counter fighting well, mixing up his shots and his conditioning look good, too. A better version of Junior than the one we saw fight Miocic the first time, who looked rather sloppy with his punches and slow with his footwork.

It will be 392 days since Junior's octagon appearance and it's for the heavyweight championship. This will be the third full camp at ATT, fourth title fight and sixth scheduled 5-round fight.

MIOCIC

STIPE MIOCIC

Stipe's last loss in the UFC came against JDS. Since then he's fought Mark Hunt, Arlovski, Werdum and Overeem - all victories by knockout. That brings his career total to 12 knockouts out of his 16 wins. That's impressive but I think a closer look at his recent wins is important.

After Stipe's loss to JDS, he would take on Mark Hunt. We saw early Stipe take Hunt to the mat, hold him down while working strikes and submission attempts. Even after eating left hooks from JDS and holding a reach advantage, we saw Miocic standing tall in the pocket against Hunt - getting countered with shots, particularly the left hook. He still showed a good pace and mixed it up well but he was drawn into a slugfest at the end of the second round. In my opinion, not much for improvements on Stipe's end in relation to his bout versus JDS but showed to be the better athlete and wrestler than Mark Hunt.

His next fight would be against Andrei Arlovski, who at the time was on a surprising but exciting career resurgence after defeating Schaub, Bigfoot Silva, Browne and Frank Mir. However, there's a couple of those wins were questionable and he hardly survived a fight with Browne. Aside from the usual "one punch" factor of the heavyweight division, it was hard to see an outcome that didn't result in Arlovski getting KO'd. Which is precisely what happened. Even so, we saw once again Miocic get hit with the left hook counter... though without consequence.

After two knockout victories, Stipe is granted a title shot against Fabricio Werdum in Curitiba, Brazil. This was a nice performance from Miocic who kept his composure and used a lot of feints to draw out Werdum's attack... it worked very effectively because after he landed a right hand, it seemed Werdum though Miocic was hurt and literally chased him. No regard for Stipe's power, no mind to cage cut... Werdum just chased him and as we've seen from Stipe before, he can strike moving backward. However, Miocic moved very little in the pocket and kept getting hit whenever Werdum would press forward with combinations. His striking defense is OK but his footwork seems to lack at times. There's a reason he absorbs 3.26 significant strikes. Again, the issues of counter shots and left hooks are consistent.

That leads us to the latest performance against Alistair Overeem. A bizarre fight because Overeem was literally running from him... kind of funny when we just saw Werdum running at him. Whether it was a tactic to keep his range (in other words, not get hit in his chinny chin) or a way to corral Stipe into the counter left hand, it worked. At least for a moment. Miocic's arms were low, he was standing upright and once Overeem stopped running around the cage, he walked directly into a straight left hand that dropped him. Overeem went for the guillotine which I personally was very excited about at the time because that was my initial pick, Overeem by submission, before I ended up setting on Miocic by knockout. But after some more running and chasing, Miocic went right back to using very minimal feints and footwork while Overeem used kicks and another counter left hand to wobble Miocic. In the end, the battle of chins weighed in Stipe's favor as he caught a kick, tripped Alistair, and knocked him standing in his guard. Neither of these two fighter's finest performances.

FORECAST

It may appear that I'm completely ragging on Miocic but that isn't the case. What I'm looking for is improvements in his game that could win him the rematch. Specifically, footwork in the pocket, improved conditioning, and less susceptibility to check hooks and counters in general. Miocic out conditioned a very un-athletic Mark Hunt, knocked out two chinny fighters and another who ran at him with their hands down. They are victories but they don't tell me much about his improvements and in fact, don't seem to show any. Perhaps he doesn't need to make any?

Dos Santos consistently shows he can be clinched against the fence and hit with combinations on the break. If Stipe is able to capitalize in those moments again but with more consequence then it's possible he wins by KO this time around. He can take advantage of JDS having a year lay off by getting to him quick and finishing him. That could come at a cost though because that's almost what happened in the first fight. Stipe came out strong, as always, but as the fight wore on JDS proved to have better conditioning and striking at range. When both fighters are tired, I believe Dos Santos is the better striker at range.

For Stipe to pick up a victory, one of three of these will need to happen, in my opinion:

  • Stipe repeats what they did in the first fight by coming out strong with forward pressure, mixing his striking in with his wrestling. The blueprint laid out by Cain Velasquez. He'll have to put in the effort to knock him out otherwise keep that consistent pace for at least three rounds to win on the judge's scorecards. If not, we're going to see the same outcome.
  • Stipe improves his striking at range and out boxes JDS to either knock him out or win by decision. JDS may not look the same, has shown low output in recent fights and was obviously not going anywhere in the Alistair fight.
  • Stipe knocks him out because it's heavyweight.

If you haven't picked up the angle of this article by now, let me say it straight. I feel like more evidence points to a repeat of the first fight. I think the Dos Santos that fought Rothwell was insight into the kind of fighter he's developing into. Less wild, winging power shots and more of a focus on setting up his punches through his already effective jab. JDS has proven to still have excellent conditioning in his last fight and Miocic still stalks forward towards his opponents. I think JDS will land the jab, slip counters and land his own shots. I also think Miocic will still be very susceptible to the left hook counter.

Perhaps JDS wins by KO or maybe it'll be by decision again. Either way I see the fight weighing in his favor. The UFC heavyweight title has never been defended more than twice so history shows Miocic will lose this fight. But history also shows JDS losing in rematches. My money is on JDS.

Credits:

fightmetric.com

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