Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Stipe Miocic was supposed to have a huge opportunity in Brazil on Saturday.
Junior dos Santos then suffered an injury, leaving Miocic to compete with light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado instead. It's a matchup that could produce some entertaining boxing, but it's a no-win situation for Miocic this weekend.
Should Maldonado stun Miocic in front of his home crowd, it will leave Maldonado in an interesting situation. He clearly doesn't have the size to be successful over the long haul in the heavyweight division, but beating a fighter like Miocic would make him a contender in the weight class.
As the headlining fight on the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 approaches, here is a closer look at how Miocic and Maldonado match up in all areas.
Maldonado has some of the smoothest offensive boxing in the UFC right now. His body punches have worn multiple opponents down, which has helped him to three straight decision victories.
However, the Brazilian has many defensive holes. When he's pressured, he is not nearly as strong a boxer as when he's moving forward. The light heavyweight has successfully defended only 55 percent of strikes thrown at him inside the Octagon.
Considering he picked apart Roy Nelson at UFC 161, Miocic should have the technique and conditioning needed to keep Maldonado on his heels this weekend.
While Miocic might have a slight striking advantage over Maldonado, his biggest edge will be in the wrestling department.
The former NCAA Division I wrestler has scored at least one takedown in his past four fights. Maldonado, conversely, has given up 15 takedowns in his past six fights, allowing at least one takedown in each of those outings.
A more physically imposing fighter than anybody Maldonado met at 205 pounds, Miocic should have his way in the clinch, which will be important in order to avoid the Brazilian's damaging body blows.
Neither Miocic nor Maldonado has picked up a submission win inside the Octagon.
Not known for their submission prowess, it seems unlikely either fighter will finish this fight on the ground. That said, Miocic would be more likely to do so, as he has never tapped in 12 career bouts. Meanwhile, Maldonado has been submitted twice.
As a very solid amateur wrestler, Miocic is also a much better positional grappler than Maldonado. If he opts to use his wrestling to take the Brazilian down, Miocic might be able to spend entire rounds on top.
One intangible stands out in this matchup.
While Miocic is a legitimate heavyweight, Maldonado has always fought at 205 pounds inside the Octagon.
That size difference may not have a huge impact if this turns into a boxing match. However, should Miocic find himself in the clinch with Maldonado, he should be able to outmuscle the light heavyweight and avoid taking many punches to the body.
Miocic is the better fighter in all areas, so he should be able to do as he pleases on Saturday.
That may not include finishing Maldonado, though. The Brazilian has an extremely solid chin. His only knockout loss came via doctor stoppage against Glover Teixeira, who is one of the hardest-hitting light heavyweights around.
Because Maldonado is so difficult to put away with strikes, Miocic should turn this into a wrestling match. It might not please the fans, but Miocic needs to make sure he gets his hand raised in this no-win matchup.
He should earn the decision by displaying better defensive boxing and a good bit of top control.
Miocic defeats Maldonado by unanimous decision.
Statistics via FightMetric.com.