Despite actually being older than Junior dos Santos, Stipe Miocic is still seen as somewhat of a up-and-comer in mixed martial arts because he’s only been fighting professionally since 2010.

Well Miocic’s first championship run is close to fruition and he’s probably one or two fights away from getting his first chance at UFC gold.

There’s only one problem.

He has to get through one of the most feared knockout artists that the UFC has ever known, former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.

On Saturday, Miocic will get his chance to make a statement to the world on national television and leave Phoenix as potentially the next challenger for interim heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum if he can get past dos Santos.

That’s a big “if”, but Miocic has the tools to frustrate the former champion and earn himself the win. Here’s what he needs to do in order reach contender status:

 

Stick to what has worked

Miocic has never been one of those heavyweights who comes in with swooping hooks and wild uppercuts. He’s able to put together technical combinations and peppers his opponents with crisp punches.

Roy Nelson was picked apart by Miocic with jabs followed vicious straight rights. Nelson continued to eat combinations throughout the night because he kept focusing on landing that one big, knockout punch. Dos Santos, although a great boxer in MMA, sometimes relies on hitting his opponent with that big punch. In his last two fights with Cain Velasquez, dos Santos was dominated on the feet because he left himself open to Velasquez’ superior hand speed when he was searching to land a haymaker.

Miocic will need to overwhelm Junior with his combinations while Junior is looking to land that powerful right hand and he has the quickness to do so.

Watch out for that uppercut

One of the strategies that worked against Nelson was the takedown attempt.

Most of the time, Miocic wasn’t actually looking to take the fight to the ground, but he was making Nelson constantly think about the threat and expend energy to stop it.

Miocic needs to be careful when he shoots for these takedown attempts because dos Santos has better timing than Nelson and he will end the fight if he predicts one of Miocic’s attempts and greets it with an uppercut.

Control the movement

In my keys to victory for dos Santos, I said that Junior needs to cut the cage off and not let Miocic circle away from his right. Stipe needs to be the one controlling the Octagon and dictating where this fights goes.

It may seem redundant, but I can’t stress the importance footwork will have in this fight. Besides being the first fighter to land a big punch, the most influential aspect of the bout will be who can close the distance the quickest and who can keep the fight moving in their direction.

If Stipe controls the movement and, of course, avoid getting hit in the face really hard too often by dos Santos, he’ll put himself in a good position to win the fight and, depending on the injury status of Velasquez, make his case for a title shot.

About The Author

Blane Ferguson
Associate Editor/Senior Staff Writer

Blane can trace his MMA roots, like many others, to the finale of the first Ultimate Fighter season between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. After watching that incredible fight and cleaning the local Blockbuster of any recorded UFC pay-per-views they had, Blane was hooked on watching the sport and he carried that passion with him to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Blane is a four-year broadcasting veteran of ASU's campus radio including a founder and co-host of the station's combat sports show, The Final Round.