While Stipe Miocic has produced a successful 5-1 record during his UFC tenure to currently sit at no. 7 in the heavyweight rankings, there remain questions as to whether he is a serious title threat. We will definitely get an answer on May 24 when Miocic squares off against former champion Junior dos Santos in the co-main event of UFC 173.
Miocic has been in prime form since his only career defeat against Stefan Struve as he’s utilized his athleticism and solid striking skills in registering back-to-back decision wins over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. Miocic has a career record of 11-1, and obviously matchmakers have decided he’s at the stage of his career where they need to find out if he’s championship stock or not. He has seven career knockout victories, including a pair inside the Octagon.
Miocic is a strong technical striker who possesses a solid wrestling background. He will no doubt look to use plenty of movement and try to find his range and accuracy in the striking department, while at the same time avoiding dos Santos’ formidable power shots. A pure stand-and-trade slugfest against “Cigano” would be the wrong approach for the athletic Miocic to take. He’s confident he can get the job done against the former champ, but will have to turn in the finest performance of his career in order to be successful.
As for JDS, he’ll be looking to get back into the win column after absorbing a tremendous pounding at the hands of champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 166. Dos Santos was stopped in the fifth and final round, and it marked the second straight time that he had been dominated by his chief rival. The Brazilian has an impressive 10-2 record inside the Octagon with KO wins against the likes of Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir and Mark Hunt.
He’s intent on a fourth matchup against Velasquez, and a victory over Miocic would certainly push him closer to that goal. Dos Santos has 12 knockouts to his credit in 16 career wins, and has captured four previous Knockout and Fight of the Night bonuses.
The prevailing theory these days when it comes to the heavyweight division is that it is Velasquez and dos Santos and then a wide gap to everybody else. Miocic gets a prime opportunity to debunk that train of thought if he can pull off the upset against the former champion in Las Vegas.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports