Finally we’re breaking down the main event of UFC 211 and it’s a doozy. The first battle between Stipe Miocic and Junior do Santos was a brutal slugfest that saw both men trading blows for five rounds. It was thoroughly entertaining and horrifying to watch. There’s only so much damage the brain can take after all and as such I see the champion and former champion taking a very different approach heading into this rematch. With everything on the line, you can bet both men are going to perform far differently than they did in their first meeting.
As far as overall games go in the UFC heavyweight division, Stipe Miocic is definitely one of the more all around fighters out there. With good boxing and solid wrestling, Stipe Miocic has a good amount of tools to rest his hat on. He does his best work in fact when he’s utilizing his jabs and feints to mix in his wrestling and visa versa. Having multiple tools to fall back on is a great way to confuse opponents and keep them unbalanced. He’ll have to do just that in this rematch.
Stipe Miocic had a ton of success in their first bout when he pressured Junior dos Santos against the fence where he unloaded combinations and threatened with takedowns. He’ll need to follow a similar game plan in his fight, but utilizing a lot more feints will be key for a few things. Not only will it keep dos Santos off balance, but it will allow Miocic to preserve his energy systems. Miocic was on cloud now in his first bout with the former champion when he was fresh. When he began to grow tired, we started seeing the holes in his game and his tendency to swing wild in chase of the knock out. Miocic needs to stay controlled, use his jab and leg kicks to keep dos Santos off balance, and shoot in for takedowns to keep the former champion honest.
The former heavyweight champion was once a man to be feared in the heavyweight division. In fact, he still should be feared as he still packs a punch in every shot. Junior dos Santos was once a man who seemed impossible to defeat until his losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. His tendency to fight with his back against the cage has often gotten him in a ton of trouble and mitigating that will surely give him a leg up in this bout. His jab and overhand rights are still sharp and are filled with devastating one shot power. The former champion showed in his last fight with Ben Rothwell that he’s capable of keeping his back off of the cage as well as utilizing front and side kicks to keep his opponent at bay.
For the rematch it’s obvious both men will want to build on what they did well in the first bout. But besides that, Junior dos Santos will want to be sure to implement more of a diverse approach to this fight. His jab will always be a great set up for his left hook as he’s always had proficiency at snapping out the strike with speed and optimal technique. His elbow is tucked in tight, he switches things up and goes to the body with the jab as well, and converts the punch to a hook seamlessly. He’ll want to use the jab to bait Miocic forward where dos Santos can shift out and fire a blistering right overhand or left hook counter. His kicking game should also be used as an option. The side kick, particularly the defensive side kick, will allow dos Santos to create space and reset if necessary. Junior dos Santos already has the takedown defense to keep things up right, its all about utilizing the right distancing and drawing Miocic forward so he can run into a counter or even a takedown.
Who leaves the cage as the UFC heavyweight champion at UFC 211?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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