Stipe Miocic was labeled as the next heavyweight champion when he was signed by the UFC. He is definitely a smaller Heavyweight, but he more than makes up for it with his speed and power. He has bested Roy Nelson as well as Shane del Rosario in very impressive fashion and proved himself to be an up-and-comer in the division.
He has been poised to square off against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC on FOX. Besides this fight being great on paper, it has serious implication for the winner.
“Styles make fights” has often been the mantra of UFC matchmaking, and I think that they hit gold — at least for Miocic, who has never truly been tested on the ground. He has let his fights do his talking in most of his bouts and has shown some decent wrestling; however, he has never really been put on his back.
If there is one fighter that will be more than happy to go to the ground, it would be Gonzaga. Gonzaga has made a career out of submitting the biggest men in the division, and I think that will be the game plan against Miocic. If Gonzaga can put Miocic on the ground and at the very least make him nervous about being there, then the night could be a very easy one for Gonzaga. However, I do not think that will happen.
Every time that Miocic has come out of the gate, he has improved significantly. Miocic also likes to fight where he feels strongest and always comes in with a great game plan. When Miocic fought Nelson, he used his jab as well as his speed to keep Nelson at bay and force him to swing wildly.
Miocic showed amazing composure in that fight, and it was easy to see that he had done his homework. I expect him to do his homework on Gonzaga as well, and he will win this fight to prove himself to be a contender in the heavyweight division.