The Ultimate Fighting Championship will make its Cleveland debut this Saturday as Stipe Miocic prepares to defend his UFC heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem at the Quicken Loans Arena.
"Stone Cold Stipe" will defend his belt for the first time against a veteran opponent who has defeated no fewer than six UFC champions in his time, although Overeem remains a slim underdog with the bookmakers.
Miocic, 34, beat Fabricio Werdum in the first round of their clash at UFC 198 back in May, while Overeem will make his first bid for the belt since joining the promotion almost five years ago.
Here's a look at how the two fighters compare, complete with odds courtesy of Odds Shark:
|Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem: Tale of the Tape|
|FightMetric.com, Odds via Odds Shark|
Read on for a pre-weigh-in preview of Saturday's titanic bout between two brutes of the elite circuit, with everything to play for in the headline event of UFC 203.
Tickets can be purchased at ScoreBig.com.
While belt-holder Miocic may come into the Cleveland clash as the bookmakers' favourite, the lines between the two combatants are so fine that Saturday's bout could easily go either way.
MMA Junkie's Ben Fowlkes elaborated upon just how tight the contest looks likely to be, per Bleacher Report's Chad Dundas:
Chad Dundas @chaddundas
On the new CME @benfowlkesMMA gets about 1 minute into discussing Miocic vs. Overeem before asking to flip a coin. https://t.co/p2Q0eW7DLA9/5/2016, 9:07:22 PM
One major defining factor between the pair, however, is experience, and Overeem comes to the Quicken Loans Arena with a record of 41-14-1, more than three times as many professional fights as Miocic (15-2).
UFC commentators and hosts John Gooden and Dan Hardy analysed Saturday's fight in finer detail prior to Friday's weigh-in, where the latter examined Overeem's taste for these occasions as a big advantage:
It's true that Miocic isn't as adept in these occasions as his opponent, but the progress the fireman and paramedic has made in recent years shows this could be his time to capitalise.
Of the six wins Miocic has scored in his last seven fights, "The Silencer" has notched early finishes in the last four, taking three Performance of the Night bonuses, claiming the heavyweight championship in his most recent.
At the very least, Overeem appeared relaxed in the build-up to Saturday's make-or-break fixture, per MMA Junkie's John Morgan:
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
Fan taunts Overeem with chants of "Let's go Stipe!" Overeem calls him up to the mat. Fan politely declines. Lol.9/7/2016, 4:35:56 PM
Overeem may bring a more threatening submission presence to the Octagon, but Miocic has proved his knockout power sits up there with some of the best in the business.
The UFC even recently took the time to celebrate his knockout victory against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 195 in January:
The KO of the Week comes by way of the heavyweight champ @StipeMiocicUFC! #UFC203 ➡️ Saturday ➡️ PPV https://t.co/gZD5M8ONyF9/7/2016, 4:00:07 PM
At 36 years of age, Overeem may not get too many more opportunities to stake his claim on a UFC title belt, and his four-fight win streak suggests he's also in the form of his career.
That being said, Miocic's hands look capable of stopping anyone on their day, and considering nine of Overeem's 14 career losses have come via knockout, that seems a plausible result come Saturday.
Prediction: Stipe Miocic wins via TKO