Back in May, it took Stipe Miocic 135 seconds to walk from the dressing room into the Octagon.
It took him just 35 seconds to win inside it.
The Performance of the Night awarded stoppage proved two things: weight classes are there for a reason and Miocic hits hard.
Originally, Miocic was in Sao Paulo, Brazil to headline The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. As he was coming off two back-to-back one-sided beatings of Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson, a winning go-around with Dos Santos would have catapulted Miocic into the title hunt, which he’s been working diligently for since 2011.
A few weeks before the heavyweight clash, Dos Santos had to withdraw due to injury and Miocic’s new opponent was fan-friendly, hometown hero Fabio Maldonado who showed a lot of heart going up a weight class to take the scrap, but ended up taking some devastating knuckles on his chin for his efforts.
“I was just super happy he took the fight,” Miocic said. “It was still a tough fight. He’s never been knocked out before. He’s a tough guy who gets stronger as the fight goes on.”
The former undefeated Brazilian professional boxer didn’t get a chance to show off much, as Miocic landed a couple of hard punches which stunned Maldonado. Then Miocic landed a couple more, which floored the light heavyweight. The win improved Miocic’s UFC record to 6-1 and was Miocic’s third KO finish inside the Octagon.
The 32-year-old Ohio native displayed power against Maldonado, but Miocic’s previous two wins showed his ability to outclass and outlast his opponents with his punching. “My coaches get the credit - Marcus Marinelli, boxing coach Joe Delguyd and strength & conditioning coach Bobby Kaleal,” Miocic said, declaring who is in charge at Strongstyle MMA of keeping Miocic’s striking skills so sharp and plentiful. In his last three UFC bouts combined, Miocic has outstruck his opponents by landing 177 significant strikes to only absorbing 54 in return.
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“The best defense is an offense,” Miocic said. “I don’t want to get hit. They’re small gloves, so no one wants to get hit. The more you put out, the harder it is for them to give it back. That’s why I work hard at the gym to be able to do that.”
Up next, Miocic will need that stick and move style more than ever as he, finally, gets his shot at UFC on FOX in Phoenix, Arizona against Dos Santos. Without a doubt, the Brazilian bomber known as “Cigano” is the greatest knockout artist the UFC heavyweight division has known. Dos Santos is a terrifying striker who has scored more knockdowns (11) than any other UFC heavyweight and is tied with fellow former champ Tim Sylvia with most significant strikes (585) ever landed as a UFC heavyweight.
“I think we match up well,” Miocic said. “He’s a big, heavy hitter. He likes to throw bombs. I’m a little more conservative. I pick my shots. I think we match up well. We’re game planning for it. We’ll see how it turns out on December 13th. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do expect a different Junior. He wants to get back to the title and he changed camps, so I definitely think he’s going to be different. Of course, I want to get to the title and Junior is one of those guys that can get me there.”
Dos Santos’ last Octagon outing was about 14 months ago at UFC 166, where he took his second loss to current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. While Dos Santos leveled Velasquez in their first meeting in 2011, Velasquez more or less showed a blueprint on beating Dos Santos in his 2012 and 2013 wins. The recipe for success is not an easy one as Velasquez had to smother the Brazilian with attacks and takedown attempts for 25 minutes the first time and 23 minutes the seconds time.
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“I take a lot from those fights and I’m going to use it to my advantage,” Miocic said. “I see things Cain did that helped him out and I see things that Junior didn’t do well with. I’m going to take that and I’m expose it. I’m really excited.”
On paper, there are some similarities between Miocic and Velasquez that could mean another long and punishing night for Dos Santos. Both Miocic and Velasquez are heralded for their cardio and both were former NCAA Division I wrestlers. Velasquez does have the edge by earning All-American honors twice, but Miocic proved himself in the boxing ring as well by winning a Golden Gloves tournament. Miocic should have a three-inch reach advantage on Dos Santos, which Velasquez did not enjoy.
“Fans are definitely are going to see a better me,” Miocic said. “I’ve been working hard. You’re going to see fireworks. I’m going down swinging. What do I have to do? Win. Knockout, submission, decision. I have to do what I am going to do and if it’s a decision, I’m going to win. I’m going to get my hand raised at the end of the day.”
On December 13th in the main event of UFC on FOX in Phoenix, two top-tier heavyweights will collide as Miocic, finally, gets his hands on Dos Santos.