Former NAAFS heavyweight and Cleveland resident Stipe Miocic (14-2) is stepping up to arguably the toughest challenge on earth, vying for the UFC heavyweight title against Brazilian vet Fabricio Werdum (20-5).
Miocic has yet to receive the type of credit he deserves both regionally and nationally after basically wiping out the entire heavyweight division using more or less good range, a jab and the occasional takedown or two. It's kind of amazing when you think about how far he's come from his days of banging it out with William Penn (RIP) at some venue in Akron to flying into Brazil to take on the incumbent champion of the world.
Why he doesn't receive the same support as a guy like Cody Garbrandt or Jessica Eye sort of baffles me but never the less he has sort of flown under mostly everyone's radar. At least from my perspective anyway. Maybe he needs to talk more or threaten people or something I don't know. Side note; If you can figure out how to create the "it" factor, let me know because you my friend will be worth alot of money.
Werdum is one of the few guys who at this level seems to be improving every time out of the gate. His striking seems to be getting sharper and he has fought nearly anyone who is anyone - think Fedor, Velasquez, Overeem etc- in the last decade or so which means he has literally seen it all at this point. With that being said, I personally feel like this isn't a terrible match up for Miocic being that his approach to the game kinda, sorta negates some of Werdum's strengths. If Stipe is able to establish the jab and keep Werdum walking into sharp right hands, it is only a matter of time before one gets through that does the trick whether it be turning the tides or turning his lights out. His wrestling and hip control should be good enough to keep the where he wants it and away from Werdum's primary strength which is on the floor. It will be up to Werdum to close the distance and create his own luck which has not worked out very well for the others who have tried and quite frankly it's a numbers game at this point. How many times can he close the distance on Miocic and make it count while absorbing the type of damage which comes with crossing through Stipe's punching range? Some haven't even made it through one exchange, some have survived all 5 rounds but paid for it by probably being too tough for their own good.
This isn't the call of a natural born homer hoping the local kid does well, this is an educated guess from someone who admittedly should have done more for this guy on his way up.
The fight is this Saturday and available on pay per view.