UFC 211 is just this Saturday. It’s likely to be one the biggest UFC cards of the year! Here I’m going to break down the heavyweight title fight that is the UFC 211 main event
Stipe Miocic vs Junior dos Santos II
Let’s take a look at their first fight …
Dos Santos wound up winning a unanimous decision in a very back-and-forth five round fight. It was exciting and action-packed as both fighters exchanged punches for nearly the whole fight.
Miocic came out strong in the first two rounds as he matched dos Santos punch-for-punch, and played the aggressor. This is likely because dos Santos was preparing for a wrestling-heavy approach, and instead found himself eating straight right hands. Miocic possesses great natural athleticism as this allows him to explode into his punches, and keep his feet movinga at all times.
However, over time, dos Santos picked up steam while Miocic began to slow. Dos Santos racked up a number of body shots, and overall landed the better shots in rounds three, four and five to win the decision.
Since then, Miocic has went on to put together an incredible win streak, improve his game, and become the heavyweight champ. Meanwhile, dos Santos has been very inactive, had some ups-and-downs, but is now trying to reclaim the belt. However, he only has one win to his credit – a decision win over Ben Rothwell.
So what is different?
Based on results, it’s obvious that this is going to be a way better Stipe Miocic. He has looked very sharp, both striking and grappling, but also in his footwork and agility; Miocic is by far the most light-footed heavyweight. In sum, Miocic has bumped everything in his arsenal up a level – including his cardio which caused him to fall behind in the first fight.
Will we see a better Junior dos Santos?
Dos Santos’ last fight showed a much more refined version of himself. He showed a full arsenal of tricks supported by fantastic boxing fundamentals and great takedown defense. He also didn’t ever rush for a KO, so I wouldn’t be surprised if both fighters come out more cautious now that they know what each other is capable of.
Even though Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos essentially had a twenty-five minute boxing match, both fighters possess very solid ground skills. Miocic is a wrestler at heart, and has the athleticism of one while dos Santos isn’t a born-and-bred wrestler, but has become solid over time.
It should be noted that Miocic was only 1 for 18 in takedown attempts in the first fight. A lot of this was due to him fatiguing late in the fight, and probably shooting out of desperation. That, and dos Santos has very good takedown attempts accentuated by his powerful and explosive hips.
If Miocic can manage to have more effective wrestling, then he could probably smash dos Santos up and grind him out. After the beatings that dos Santos took against Cain Velasquez, I don’t know how his durability would hold up. But Miocic will need success on his feet to set up takedowns. Now that Junior knows what Miocic possesses with his hands, and has felt his power, he may now leave himself more open to takedowns. But even then, it’s going to be hard for Miocic to have success wrestling Junior because of how versed he is in defense.
On the feet, I still stand by the statement that Junior dos Santos is the better boxer. He likely always will be. Miocic has improved, and has accumulated some really nice results due to these improvements, but he can’t hang with JDS with boxing alone. He needs kicks (which we didn’t see out of him), he needs better movement (which he has), and he needs JDS to respect his wrestling (which he couldn’t do).
I think Junior dos Santos will always be one of Stipe Miocic’s worst match ups. I say this because he has shown the durability to withstand Miocic’s offense, but also has the dangerous boxing to edge him. Additionally, he has the takedown defense to keep the fight where he wants it. However … I think Miocic gets revenge and wins. The main x-factor is Stipe having less miles on his engine.
Dos Santos, on a technical level, probably can do enough to win this fight again, but I don’t see Miocic letting the fight play out like it did before. Even in a boxing match, which is dos Santos’ ideal scenario, it was competitive. If Miocic can mix in some wrestling exchanges, some more footwork and movement, and make keep the fight from being a boxing match – he will win. And I think that is what will happen.
I’m taking Stipe Miocic in bit slower-paced (but still exciting) five round unanimous decision.
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