A pivotal heavyweight contest is part of this weekend’s festivities in Chicago at UFC on FOX 10. A matchup with the time-honoured storyline of the seasoned veteran against the hot prospect plays out with Gabriel Gonzaga squaring off against Stipe Miocic. “Napao” will be looking to continue his impressive second stint in the organization while Miocic will be looking to show UFC matchmakers that he represents a legitimate future title threat.
Gonzaga has been producing a path of destruction since returning to the organization with a solid 5-1 record. His latest performance was a first-round stoppage at UFC 166 of Shawn Jordan. It was his second straight first-round knockout victory after being stopped by top-contender Travis Browne.
All of Gonzaga’s 16 career victories have come by way of knockout or submission. He owns one of the most famous knockouts in UFC history with that head kick finish of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic back in 2007 at UFC 70. It set Gonzaga up for a heavyweight title fight that he wound up losing against Randy Couture. The Brazilian has been driven to get one more shot at the gold, and the positive results of late have seen Gonzaga climb to no. 12 in the rankings.
Miocic is looking to continue his rise in the divisional rankings after a career-best effort against Roy Nelson at UFC 161. Miocic utilized tremendous combinations throughout the course of the contest and managed to avoid “Big Country”’s formidable punching power, cruising to a unanimous decision win.
Miocic has a 10-1 career record with eight victories by knockout or submission. His lone loss came by way of knockout to the towering Stefan Struve. He has tremendous athleticism for a heavyweight and has worked his way into the top 10 rankings, currently sitting at no. 8.
The implications for this bout are pretty clear, and its importance should produce a solid and likely explosive heavyweight scrap. Both of these fighters have shown an ability to finish fights, and both will be looking to make a statement. Gonzaga has made major strides in his last couple of bouts and can ill afford a setback at this stage of his career.
Miocic is one of the few fresh faces in the division, and another win against the Brazilian veteran would open the door to more high-profile opportunities. It would definitely be a surprise if this matchup were to go the three-round distance.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports