UFC 198 Breakdown: Fabricio Werdum vs Stipe Miocic

Fabricio-WerdumPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil as Fabricio Werdum puts his championship on the line against Stipe Miocic.   Stipe Miocic (Record: 14-2, +140 Underdog, Fighter Grade: A-) The 33-year old Ohio native has been on a tear winning five of his last six fights. He enters Saturday’s title fight on the heels of back-to-back of finishes over Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt. This is Miocic’s first ever UFC title fight. Miocic is a well-rounded athlete. In addition to wrestling, he played baseball in college, even drawing interest from some Major League teams. Outside of college, he also has an amateur boxing background competing in the Golden Gloves competition. Miocic is an Ohio guy; he’s trained his entire career in Ohio and has worked his way up the ladder despite not training full time with the typical elite fight teams. Miocic has solid hands and works a very high pace for a heavyweight landing 4.87 significant strikes a minute. In comparison, he’s only absorbing 3.26 significant strikes per minute with 62% striking defense. Miocic mixes his striking with wrestling scoring over two takedowns every 15 minutes inside the Octagon. Miocic isn’t the hardest puncher in the division, but he moves very well and has shown an ability to avoid taking much damage. The one question mark about Miocic is submission grappling. There simply hasn’t been a situation where Miocic has had to defend submission attempts during his time inside the Octagon.   Fabricio Werdum (Record: 20-5, -160 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A) The UFC Heavyweight Champion enters Saturday’s title fight riding the best form of his career. Since returning from Strikeforce to the UFC, Werdum has won six consecutive bouts including finishes of Mark Hunt and Cain Velasquez. The UFC 198 event will be Werdum’s first fight in Brazil since June 2013. Perhaps the most improved striker in MMA over the past couple years, Fabricio Werdum’s work with renowned striking coach Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA has been well documented. Werdum landed 121 significant strikes in an unanimous decision win over Travis Browne and 96 strikes in a finish of Cain Velasquez. Not only is Werdum landing with volume, but he’s done a great job of working in strikes to the body to wear down his opponents. Werdum takes very little damage in his fights. He’s only absorbed 2.17 significant strikes a minute; a very low number compared to his heavyweight contemporaries. Werdum combines his improved striking prowess with the best jiu-jitsu skill-set in the history of the heavyweight division. He’s a two time ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion and he’s shown that in the Octagon with 10 of his 20 career wins coming by way of submission.   Match-up There’s a lot to be excited about with Saturday’s heavyweight title fight. While both fighters are well into their 30s, it’s fair to say that both of them are currently performing at their fighting peak. Werdum just finished Cain Velasquez to unify the heavyweight championship and Miocic is coming off the two biggest wins of his career. Both fighters push a high pace, making this a heavyweight fight that could very well get better as the rounds progress. Look for Miocic to do well early on as he did in a close contest against Junior dos Santos. The majority of this fight should be contested on the feet as Miocic has pretty good takedown defense and he has no desire to play on the ground with an excellent submission grappler like Werdum. As the fight develops, look for Werdum to work in more shots to the body to attempt to tire out his American opponent. Werdum should begin to take over in the championship rounds as his all-around striking begins to find holes in Miocic’s defense. If Werdum is able to land a flush body kick, he could finish late with the referee stepping in or work in a submission and testing Miocic’s submission defense. More likely, I see this one going to the scorecards with the champion retaining his belt in front of his fellow countrymen. The best bet on this fight is the over 2.5 (-135). Each of these fighters has only been finished once in their careers. Durability is one of their best strengths, so look for this fight to head into the championship rounds.

Written by Jay Primetown

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