Analysing Stipe Miocic
The thing about Stipe that surprises me the most is for a fighter with an amateur boxing background he doesn’t really like fighting at long range. I’m going to start with his jab, instead of using it as a yardstick to fire combinations he mostly just pops it out as more of a deterrent to his opponents until he can get himself closer.
Once Miocic finds a way in close that’s when you see him throw more of his power shots.
The preference for short range strikes is most evident in his ko victories of Andrei Arlovski & Fabio Maldonado.
Both knockouts Miocic discards his opponents front hand and lands a short right in which he turns the hip over to get as much power as possible. Why is this relevant to his fight with Overeem? because the area in which Stipe thrives on is an area Alistair Overeem isn’t really comfortable striking from.
Two different foes but similar situations, both Dos Santos & Arlovski manage to get inside of Overeem’s kicking distance and from there Alistair is just looking to cover and find a way to exit. Overeem uses the double guard until he finds a route to escape which is not a great form of defence in mma due to the small gloves compared to boxing where the bigger heavier glove gives you far more protection. Stipe will be fully aware that there have been a few occasions where Overeem has been hurt & finished in closer range.
Granted this was round three and Overeem looked gassed not to mention already been rocked by a head kick just before this sequence but you see here another example of his discomfort at short range, he’s squared up and making no attempt to evade just bracing himself for the impact.
In this clip Overeem is too close to his opponent to land the strike he decides to go with and gets caught by a shorter counter from Ben Rothwell who goes on to finish him, i will show you further down in this article the correct distance for the punch Overeem is trying to land but here his miscalculation proved fatal.
For Stipe it’s important to get inside of Alistair’s kicking perimeter and force him to fight up close where Miocic has success, the danger for Miocic is not getting too close. A few times in the fight with Dos Santos Stipe chose to smother Junior up against the cage against Overeem that may be a dangerous area to tread because of how dangerous he can be in the clinch.
Overeem has such good placement with his knees you can’t afford to get mixed up in the clinch game too much, Miocic needs to find that fine balance of either staying all the way out away from Alistair Overeem’s dangerous kicks
or getting in close from where he can control the hand exchanges far better. If Miocic can keep the fight in those two ranges one of either two things will happen he’ll either catch Overeem in close distance like the Arlovski and Maldonado knockouts or Overeem will be forced to take chances and Miocic can counter. Although i don’t expect an experienced striker like Overeem to charge recklessly like Fabricio Werdum did this knockout shows how effectively Miocic can counter and hurt you if pressed to do so and he doesn’t necessarily need Overeem to get frustrated all he needs is a misjudgement from Overeem like we saw with the Ben Rothwell ko.
Werdum gets a warning here for attacking recklessly in a straight line with his chin up in the air, chooses to ignore it and pays the penalty.
Miocic parries the Jab and counters with the same hand not a technique a fighter who’s incompetent with countering can pull off.
Analysing Alistair Overeem
The reem has a multidimensional striking skill set, he’s more than competent with his hands and fluent with all sorts of different kicking techniques and i have already highlighted how dangerous his knees can be. Alistair has fought against some of the worlds most elite strikers and is a k-1 World Grand Prix champion so Miocic although slightly different as a threat isn’t something out of the ordinary for Overeem.
Talking about the kicks, I want to touch upon the distance Overeem will be looking to keep Miocic at.
Not all of these land but you get the general idea in terms of spacing where Alistair Overeem would ideally like to keep Miocic . Since Overeem’s loss to Ben Rothwell we’ve seen a more calculated version of Alistair Overeem who may be a little less daunting to fight but i think harder to beat. i will case study two recent fights against opponents who chose to stand with Overeem and how Alistair went about dealing with them, Starting first with Overeem vs Dos Santos.
Alistair has recently been using his front hand from a southpaw stance to gauge distance, making sure he’s just within kicking reach but more importantly he’s far enough away to read his opponents movement ensuring Dos Santos doesn’t catch him off guard and get in close enough to punch. This fight in particular very few strikes were thrown both guys respected each others power and it was clear early on that it was going to be a fight where the first guy to land something significant would most likely win.
you see already how effectively Alistair is keeping Dos Santos at long range, Dos Santos steps in to try to cut the distance and Overeem escapes pretty easily due to the fact that he’s far enough away to see Dos Santos coming.
When Dos Santos steps inside this time Alistair is in a much better position to counter and hits Dos Santos with the hardest shot of the round this is the punch he tries to land on Rothwell earlier in this article but in this example Overeem is at a more favourable range.
Moving into the second round JDS has become hesitant and unsure of how to breach the distance Alistair has fenced him out to.
Realizing that Dos Santos isn’t threatening with anything Overeem smells blood sets a trap and Dos Santos gets countered and finished. What was telling about the finish is how patient Overeem was waiting for his opportunity.
Moving on to Overeem vs Arlovski, he starts with the hand measuring routine in this fight also and here is a near identical sequence to the first round of the JDS fight you see Arlovski step in but Overeem sees him coming almost immediately.
having established the range Overeem lands a hard Body kick that Arlovski never looked like he recovered from to me, one thing is for sure it made Arlovski think twice about stepping in.
This fight has a similar script to Overeem vs JDS, Overeem has fenced Arlovski off and here you see Andrei throwing an overhand right from way outside the ideal range, i mean he’s so far way even if Alistair doesn’t move its touch and go whether the shot lands.
Arlovski is out of ideas by now and Alistair has reduced Arlovski to playing his game, he’s got Arlovski worrying so much about that front hand he’s actually watching Overeem now instead of trying to find a way inside.
Alistair now free to pick his shot shows patience once again and lands the finishing combination, the crane kick made famous by Daniel Larusso followed by the overhand left.
Two opponents similar to Stipe Miocic both men Arlovski and Junior Dos Santos prefer to keep fights standing and primarily like to throw punches, Alistair should and i feel will use a comparable game plan to what we saw him implement against those two adversaries. Be patient keep the fight long and look to land shots from the outside.
MMA math gets a bad rep rightly so, and styles definitely make fights but in this context i don’t see how fights against similar style opponents cant be taken into the equation in particular Stipe Miocic vs Junior Dos Santos, good fight with competitive rounds however most of the fight JDS controlled the range and showcased his superior timing.
This is the heavyweight division so Miocic may only need to find a way inside once ring Overeem’s bell and that could be enough to retain his title, i just don’t see Overeem giving him the opportunity. Overeem is no longer a one round blitz, he’s now using his experience to control opponents until he sees a window to land something substantial. Alistair is perhaps the trickiest puzzle right now among the heavyweights, For that reason at UFC 203 i envision a new champion and I’m predicting
Alistair Overeem wins by referee stoppage/tko.