The third bout on the UFC on Fuel debut show is an old-school style vs. style pairing, as a pair of undefeated heavyweights throw down. Who will come out on top, the golden gloves boxer with a wrestling pedigree, Stipe Miocic, or the submission-savvy Phil de Fries?
Miocic is an undefeated prospect who has shown a great deal of finishing ability, which means in a sparse division like heavyweight is only a few strong showings away from finding himself at the top of the division. With a chance on the main card, even on a Fuel show, Miocic is being given the opportunity to take another step along that path.
Miocic began his career with a run of five consecutive knockout victories, three of which came in the first round and all which were finished within the opening seven minutes of the bout. Miocic's sixth win, his fifth under the NAAFS banner, came by way of a submission, but given that submission was a result of his opponent deciding "enough of this crap," when Miocic insisted on repeatedly kicking him in the leg, it was yet another example of his dangerous stand-up. For his octagon debut Miocic faced off with the durable Joey Beltran and after a brutal fifteen minute slugfest had his hand raised for a unanimous decision victory.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Miocic is a fighter who employs the old school wrestle boxing style of fighting. A former Division-I wrestler, Miocic was nationally ranked during his time at Cleveland State. In addition to his wrestling, Miocic is a golden gloves boxer, and as a result likes to employ his wrestling defensively, forcing his opponents to stay on the feet where Miocic is more than happy and capable of dealing devastating offense. Against Beltran, however, he also showed he could mix in offensive wrestling if the fight merits it, though against de Fries this is unlikely. Miocic's submission defense has not been tested in his career, however, and facing a strong submission grappler he will likely be hoping his wrestling is strong enough that the same can be said after the fight as well.
If Miocic is able to keep this fight on the feet for any extended period of time, it's going to be lights out for de Fries. Count on Miocic's wrestling to be superior and take Miocic to win by a first round knock out of de Fries. On the fantasy betting side, Miocic is a -240. while the line is much better than what the sports books offer, unless you already have a massive roll at mid-season and are looking for steady growth, you're unlikely to be pouring much money into a -240 fighter due to the "go big or go home" nature of fantasy betting in a season format.
Philip de Fries analysis after the jump.
Philip de Fries
De Fries is a British grappler who, in stark contrast to Miocic's knockout-heavy record, earned his chance in the big leagues by scoring a chain of submission victories. With an unbeaten record and a finish in all of his pre-UFC bouts, de Fries is another fighter who is looking to turn a win in this fight into a short path to the top of heavyweight division.
De Fries entered 2011 as an undefeated fighter with a record of 4-0 with 1 No-Contest. De Fries had yet to be out of the first round at that point, and the streak would continue through his first two fights in the new year, as he submitted Andy Spiers via rear naked choke and Colin Robinson with an armbar. Stav Economou would be the first fighter to survive five minutes in the cage with de Fries, only to himself tap to a rear naked choke in the second. The win was de Fries last before receiving the call from the UFC when they needed a heavyweight fighter for their Birmingham card. In his debut de Fries faced Rob Broughton
Strengths and Weaknesses
De Fries is a fairly one-sided fighter as far as he has shown in his MMA career to-date. On the mat de Fries is a dangerous grappler who has managed to rack up the wins on his resume despite holding only a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. On the feet however de Fries has not showed the same level of skills, and when facing a golden gloves boxer in Miocic who also showed a diverse set of strikes in his UFC debut, the lack of a wrestling base for de Fries, who will need to ground the fight to win, becomes a worrying matter for the Brit.
If de Fries is to take this fight it will be because he manages to stall out Miocic's offense with clinch fighting or manages to drag Miocic to the ground and work submissions and ground and pound. It's unclear at this point how strong Miocic's defense on the ground is, however a submission win in the first round seems slightly more likely for de Fries than a submission. At only a +205, substantially less enticing than the lines as high as +310 available on money books, de Fries is best shied away from unless you are highly convinced he can work takedowns and submissions on the D-I wrestler.