Who wins the Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic Heavyweight Title bout at UFC 198, and how?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
At 38-years-old, we may have the best version of Fabricio Werdum we’ve ever seen. Werdum’s list of defeated heavyweights comprises many of the greats big men the sport has ever known. After ending Fedor Emelianenko’s monumental undefeated streak and unifying the Heavyweight Title by submitting one of the baddest men on the planet in Cain Velasquez, the debate on whether Werdum is the greatest heavyweight of all time is now a real one.
A master of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Werdum’s striking has risen to an elite level in the past few years. He hasn’t lost in nearly five years, and his fights haven’t been close. He’s roughed people up on the feet, knocked them out with strikes, and submitted them with his exceptional ground game. Any heavyweight can seem to win on any given night, but lately, Werdum has seemed as sure a bet as any.
At “only” 33 years of age, Miocic is one of the younger fighters at the top of the Heavyweight pool. Currently the #2 ranked contender, his sports only two losses on his record, against an impressive 14 wins with 10 finishes. A closer look at his fight history reveals the complete lack of depth the UFC biggest division has. Up until his last fight, Miocic’s signature win was over Mark Hunt, a man who ended the night as a .500 fighter and over 40 years old. His latest defeat of Andrei Arlovski holds more weight, but only because Arlovski has done the same thing he has in managing to ascend the ranks of a shallow heavyweight field.
Miocic is very athletic, and his boxing is quite technical. While he lost to former champion Junior dos Santos, there’s an argument to be made he won that fight, and at the very least, he held his own against someone near the top of the division. A former collegiate baseball player and wrestler, Miocic has knockout power in his hands.
Miocic will obviously want to keep the fight standing, as going to the ground with the champ is about the worst place anyone can end up at the moment. This does not however, appear to be the classic “striker vs. grappler” fight we’re always hearing about. Werdum has shown he is fully capable on the feet and has managed to beat opponents both on the feet and on the ground lately. It’s not a given that Miocic has an edge on the feet, and the threat of Werdum’s ground game will keep him from being as aggressive as he’d like to. At the end of the day, Werdum just has too many weapons at his disposal as one of the most complete fighters in the game. Miocic is durable, going five rounds with dos Santos and only succumbing to knockout once, but all that’s going to get him is more time to get picked apart. Werdum by decision to set up Werdum vs. Velasquez 14, or whatever number we’re on now.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think Werdum takes this by TKO in the third round. Miocic is tough, but there’s just no way I can pick him in this fight. Werdum has looked so great lately that there’s a part of me that wants to pick him to steamroll Miocic. I can’t do that, though, because Miocic is so tough. I do think Werdum gets the finish, but he’s going to have to work very hard for it. Miocic will get his shots in, but I think Werdum will land more shots, and land the harder ones. It’s an extremely exciting fight, but I think the champ retains in brutal fashion.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I hate to be the hater on the underdog but I don’t see a solid path to victory for Miocic against Werdum and his new natural born killer status. He’s on a killing spree and he has a new target. It’s going to be bloody and fun, but in the end the champion emerges with his belt still in hand.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
For all the talk of Werdum being a fantastic grappler (and he is), he has barely used his BJJ during his latest UFC run. Admit it, Velasquez dived into that guillotine choke in that ill-advised takedown. Now sitting on the heavyweight throne, that should speak volumes about what a skilled striker our champion has become, taking down the likes of Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, and Cain Velasquez who were all supposed to be better strikers. He has made massive strides in his Muay Thai under coach Rafael Cordeiro.
That’s why I gotta pick the champ to find success in his first title defense. Miocic may be the better pure boxer and can pull out the win if he can turn the fight into a brawl. But someway, somehow, Werdum has been able to dictate each of his fights since losing to Alistair Overeem way back in 2011. He didn’t just become champion because of his improved striking acumen. He became champ because he walks into every fight with a sound strategy and executes it.
Predicting how he wins feels like the harder option for me. Werdum proved he could go five rounds comfortably against Browne, so I could easily see him taking a comfortable decision. Miocic has fought five rounds himself against Junior dos Santos, though I felt was a bit worse for wear at the end of his fight than Werdum and I’m not talking about damage taken. Werdum was also able to wear out Velasquez with a lot of damage in the clinch (I don’t want to hear about altitude Cain, Werdum put a hell of a beating on him and that can’t be denied!) and I could very easily see him doing so to Miocic as well. I’ll predict Miocic being exhausted come the fourth round with Werdum scoring a submission finish from there.
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