UFC 146: Breaking Down Stipe Miocic vs. Shane Del Rosario
On Saturday, undefeated heavyweight prospects Stipe Miocic and Shane del Rosario will meet in a bout that could earn the winner a fight with one of the division's contenders.
Since joining the UFC, Miocic has defeated Joey Beltran and Phil De Fries to remain undefeated in his first eight professional fights.
During that time, former Strikeforce heavyweight del Rosario has spent more than one year recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident.
At UFC 146, one of these fighters will take a big step toward the top of the heavyweight division. Let's take a look at whether Miocic or del Rosario has a better chance of winning.
A former WBC Muay Thai champion, Shane del Rosario is one of the more technically sound strikers in the heavyweight division.
In his 11 professional MMA fights, del Rosario has knocked out eight opponents and will have a chance at earning a ninth knockout against an opponent who also prefers to stand.
With a solid combination of wrestling and boxing, Stipe Miocic likes to defend takedowns and throw his hands.
While that formula has worked well for Miocic in the past, he may want to use his wrestling to take this fight to the ground, where he won't be at a disadvantage against a more seasoned striker like del Rosario.
On their feet, del Rosario is much more dynamic than Miocic. Whereas most of Miocic's striking is done with his hands, del Rosario has powerful kicks and knees that he mixes into his attacks in addition to his punches.
Edge: del Rosario
At Cleveland State University, Stipe Miocic was considered among the best amateur wrestlers in the country in the 197-pound weight class.
Now, Miocic is on his way to becoming one of the best heavyweight fighters in the world, but he may need to return to his wrestling to continue his ascent.
Undoubtedly, the weakest aspect of del Rosario's game is his takedown defense.
If Miocic can avoid eating a knee or uppercut on the way in for a takedown attempt, he should easily be able to drag the former kickboxer to the canvas.
Once on the ground, Miocic will have to deal with del Rosario's surprisingly dangerous guard, but that would be much preferred over having to overcome the disadvantage he would be facing against the former Muay Thai champion on his feet.
Aside from forcing an opponent to submit due to leg kicks, Stipe Miocic has not recorded a submission win in the early part of his career.
That being said, it's hard to submit opponents when you're knocking most of them out from a standing position.
In reality, Miocic and Shane del Rosario are probably fairly even when it comes to submission ability.
However, a slight edge has to go to del Rosario in that category based on what we have actually seen inside the cage, as the former kickboxer submitted three inexperienced opponents during his time with Strikeforce and EliteXC.
Edge: del Rosario
Making his UFC debut alone will be enough pressure on Shane del Rosario's shoulders, but making his first Octagon appearance after a one-year layoff—during which he contemplated retirement—will cause a lot of different thoughts and emotions to run through his head during fight night.
Stipe Miocic, meanwhile, has already fought inside the Octagon on two occasions and has remained quite active since beginning his MMA career in February 2010.
That familiarity with the cage could give Miocic an edge in conditioning and confidence on Saturday night.
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Shane del Rosario may have had the ground game to force taps from Lavar Johnson and other inexperienced grapplers, but Stipe Miocic is on a completely different level than any of del Rosario's past opponents.
With a solid chin, Miocic will be able to eat a shot or two before taking this fight to the ground.
Having only gone to the second round once during his MMA career, del Rosario will get discouraged when he finds himself unable to threaten Miocic on the ground.
Late in the opening round, Miocic will break his opponent's will and force the referee to step in by taking del Rosario's back and landing a number of unanswered blows.
Miocic defeats del Rosario by technical knockout (punches) in the first round.