Event: UFC 203 Date: September 10, 2016 Location: Cleveland, Ohio Venue: Quicken Loans Arena Broadcast: Pay-Per-View UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic A Golden Gloves winner and Division I wrestler, Stipe Miocic (15-2) has been around the Octagon for over five years, amassing an 9-2 record over that time span that included the the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy Nelson, Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski, which earned him a shot at the title. Miocic is a well-rounded fighter and often does not get nearly as much credit as he deserves. He has fantastic wrestling, technical boxing, and knockout power that stuns most fighters. He uses his range well and doesn’t put himself into too much trouble. We saw in his fights against Fabio Maldonado, Arlovski and most recently Fabricio Werdum that he can knock people out so don’t sleep on his power. During his time in the Octagon, Miocic’s only losses are to Stefan Struve early in his UFC career and to former champ Junior dos Santos. Miocic showed against JDS that he has the heart, the chin, and the skills to go toe-to-toe with one of the best in the world for 25 minutes. He proved himself for good against Fabricio Werdum for the world title, catching the champion with a hook while backing up to knock “Vai Cavalho” out cold and capture the gold. His first title defense will be in his hometown of Cleveland against Alistair Overeem. UFC Heavyweight Contender Alistair Overeem Starting his professional career at just 19 years old, the MMA world has seen many incarnations of Alistair Overeem. Early in his career he was a scrawny light heavyweight who took a 12-fight winning streak into his 2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix bout against UFC star Chuck Liddell, and even had ‘The Iceman’ hurt before eventually succumbing to strikes himself. He faced a myriad of other great fighters during his run in PRIDE, including: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (twice), Vitor Belfort, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (twice), Fabricio Werdum, and Ricardo Arona. While never a star in PRIDE, he enjoyed moderate success and was always a threat with both his strikes and guillotine choke. Overeem really seemed to come into his own when he ditched the light heavyweight division for good and allowed himself to… ahem… grow into his body. From 2007 to 2009, he went from a lanky light heavyweight to one of the most physically imposing fighters in MMA history, capturing the Strikeforce heavyweight title along the way. 2010 may have been his crowning year. In addition to capturing the DREAM heavyweight title, he won the K-1 World Grand Prix, becoming the first fighter in history to simultaneously hold major kickboxing and MMA titles. 2011 saw the Dutch fighter defeat Fabricio Werdum and then debut in the UFC to as much hype as any fighter in recent history, and he delivered with a brutal body shot stoppage of former UFC champion Brock Lesnar. Controversy would find Overeem however, and a test discovering elevated testosterone levels had him pulled from his intended title bout against Junior dos Santos. Knockout losses to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne would welcome him back to the Octagon, and it seemed Overeem’s time as a top fighter was done. However, wins in four of his next five bouts — including a knockout victory over Junior dos Santos in their showdown three and a half years after it was originally scheduled and an emphatic win over former champion Andrei Arlovski punched his ticket to fight for the gold. Opening UFC Heavyweight Title Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Miocic a -170 favorite (bet $170 to win $100), with the comeback on Overeem at +140 (bet $100 to win $140) at Several Bookmakers and opened via ESPN. Overeem has the edge in experience and diversity of striking, and he’ll need to utilize each and ever advantage if he wants to be victorious. Miocic will be a threat with his high pace, high volume combined with crisp boxing and constant pressure standing, in the clinch and potentially with takedowns. Overeem has defeated slightly better opposition, but he’s also been knocked out nine times in his mixed martial arts career and can’t afford to eat a clean shot. Miocic will also be fighting on his home turf, but that comes with bonus responsibilities and distractions. While Miocic is the deserved favorite, the UFC heavyweight championship has proven to be the toughest to defend so nothing is guaranteed.