Chances are, there won’t be much of a feeling-out process when Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos contest the UFC heavyweight title next Saturday (May 13) at UFC 211.
Fuelled by a 2014 dress rehearsal, a bout dos Santos won via decision, the two go into their rematch at Dallas’ American Airlines Center knowing near-enough all there is to know about their opposite number.
Miocic, though, the current UFC heavyweight king, points to his rise as proof of his progression since fight number one.
“The lesson I learned was just knowing that I belong, that I can hang with anyone,” Miocic said at a Thursday media teleconference promoting his UFC 211 rematch with dos Santos. “I went five rounds with a former champ, a guy who has been a knockout artist and I went five rounds with him. I know I belong. I know that I’m not going anywhere, and look at where I’m at now.”
Dos Santos finds himself in a strange position. The Brazilian puncher, a former champion in his own right, claimed the scalp of Miocic three years ago yet has had to sit and watch the Ohio-native emerge at the summit of the division.
“That was a really tough fight,” dos Santos said. “Stipe Miocic has really heavy hands. He’s got really good boxing skills, it was a tough fight for both of us I think, and for sure we learned a lot from each other from that fight. So, now I think we can be more prepared for each other.”
Interestingly, despite the first fight going to the cards following a full 25 minutes, both men forecast a knockout victory in part two. Dos Santos believes the fight will end before round three, thus delivering him his second UFC heavyweight title, whereas Miocic is less specific but every bit as certain the fight ends within the allotted time.
“We both know someone’s getting KO’d,” Miocic said. “I’m walking out with the belt still, so, it’s going to happen. I’m not going to predict what round, but I’m walking out with the belt.”