Since it has been a slow week in the world of mixed martial arts, I have gone back to just re-watching fights. One of the fights that I stumbled upon was Stipe Miocic vs. Roy Nelson.
I remember when Miocic volunteered to take on Nelson as a late replacement, and I thought the poor kid walking to his own death. I thought Miocic was a good fighter, inexperienced but good, and I thought that he did not stand a chance against Nelson. In true underdog fashion, Miocic went out there with an excellent game plan and just wore Nelson down. It was amazing to watch, and it was right then and there that I knew Miocic would be a force in the Heavyweight division.
Miocic was heralded as “the next big thing” in the Heavyweight division when he signed with the UFC. His first fight was against Joey Beltran, which is no easy task, and he put on an impressive performance against him, winning via unanimous decision. He then won his next two fights by knockout, and then lost to Stefan Struve because he wanted to get into a slug-fest with Struve, which is a bad idea, except if your name is Mark Hunt. It was because of Miocic’s penchant for brawling that I thought he was going to get killed by Nelson. Instead, Miocic showed great maturity in that fight and clearly looked like he learned from that loss.
Miocic is now set to face Gabriel Gonzaga, who is on a tear. Gonzaga will probably test Miocic on the ground, where he has been untested. It will be extremely exciting to see if he has the ground game to hang with the big boys, and if he has advanced further with his striking skills. I do believe that Miocic is bound to be one of the best, and this fight with Gonzaga will show if he is on his way, or if he needs a little more time.