UFC on Fox 10: Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Before lightweight standouts Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson take center stage this Saturday at UFC on Fox 10, heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Gabriel Gonzaga will go to war.
In a co-main event that will dictate the next budding contender in a top-heavy division, Miocic vs. Gonzaga will be sure to produce.
For Miocic, a young and hungry prospect yearning for his spot among the heavyweight's best, a victory over a storied veteran like "Napao" would cement his contender status for 2014.
As for Gonzaga, a Brazilian comprised of ungodly knockout power and scintillating submissions kills, knocking off a promising young gun like Miocic would allow the 34-year-old to work his way toward a title shot sometime in 2015.
Here's their final head-to-toe breakdown on the doorstep of a very interesting showdown on Jan. 25.
Evidenced by his dissection of Roy Nelson back in 2013, Miocic can make even sufficient strikers look sluggish and depleted.
He does so by tapping into natural athleticism and speed. In turn, the 31-year-old can pick apart opponents with consistent precision, ever-changing angling and various in-and-out attacks.
This means that Gonzaga is going to have to be at his absolute best to land in succession against a leaner, quicker and more versatile fighter.
Sure the Brazilian has some deadly head kicks and worthwhile timing, but Miocic is simply too athletic to outpoint in a game of calculated aggression.
Any heavyweight can knock out any heavyweight at any time.
That's just the way it is when two soldier-sized dynamos sling unforgiving leather until the lights go out.
But beyond the nature of fighting and the barbaric power that every heavyweight carries, Gonzaga is easily equipped with more consistently potent striking power than Miocic.
Not to mention he possesses top-level head kicks that can chop down even the best kickboxers in the world.
As a naturally strong guy, Gonzaga often relies on his one-punch power. So even though Miocic can end a fight via strikes, it is the Brazilian who is more likely to pull it off.
Miocic better be careful, stay the course and utilize his angular quickness.
Both Miocic and Gonzaga can work in the clinch.
In Miocic's case, he's able to attack on the inside with dirty boxing, short elbows, penetrating body shots and athletically inclined positioning.
As for Gonzaga, he's able to do massive damage in the clinch by overpowering opponents and capitalizing on short-window opportunities like destructive knees, quick takedowns or crushing uppercuts.
It's going to be very interesting to see who excels in the clinch come Saturday. If Miocic wants to provide himself with best opportunity to win then he'll stay away from the Brazilian's bear-like grasp.
But if Gonzaga is able to work his way against the cage, we'll find out if Miocic can stay busy by utilizing his quick-burst frame.
Gonzaga is the only heavyweight in UFC history other than Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin to take down Junior dos Santos.
That carries some serious weight, but nothing to the effect of the recognition that Miocic's background in wrestling deserves.
As a successful collegiate wrestler who accompanies technique with speed and natural athleticism, Miocic is able to out-hustle and out-scramble any heavyweight outside of the aforementioned Velasquez.
Now he may not opt to bring the fight to the ground considering how potent Gonzaga's grappling game is, but if Miocic is getting the best of Gonzaga on their feet, it's going to be hard for the Brazilian to drag him down.
Miocic has never won a fight by an actual submission, nor does he possess a relevant grappling background.
Now I'm sure he works on his jiu-jitsu skills because that's the kind of well-rounded fighter he is, but when it comes to being a dangerous submission specialist, Miocic falls football fields short of Gonzaga.
As a bona fide black belt who has recorded seven career submissions, "Napao" can get it done in any position.
Whether it's an armbar, guillotine, arm lock or rear-naked choke, Gonzaga is capable of ending a fight at any time. Micoci needs to steer clear at all costs.
MAJOR ADVANTAGE: GONZAGA
For what Gonzaga has done throughout his UFC career, there's simply no way Miocic can equally stack up against him when it comes to intangibles.
There's just something about an experienced finisher who can punish an opponent with punches at one turn then snap his arm at another.
That is Gonzaga in a nutshell.
He has been one of the most consistent heavyweight finishers in mixed martial arts and has stepped inside the cage with the best of the best.
If Miocic wants to gain ground in the intangibles department then he'll have to take away at least one half of Gonzaga's game. Make this a stand-up war and stay out of his reach because the Brazilian has a knack for pulling off the memorable.
This is truly an interesting showdown in the UFC heavyweight division.
Because of the future title implications it holds, as well as the stylistic matchup it provides, much praise needs to be sent Joe Silva's way.
In any case, assuming Miocic is able to maintain his range and attack with caution, he should be able to score points in bunches, especially if Gonzaga is unable to take him down.
But considering Gonzaga has only gone to a decision once in his career and only finishes when he wins, you have to believe this one isn't going to the judge's scorecard.
That means it's going to come down to Miocic's athleticism vs. Gonzaga's natural power. And because the Brazilian possesses a double-edged sword with his knockout ability and submission prowess, you have to give him the nod.
VERDICT: GONZAGA VIA SECOND-ROUND TKO
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