When I saw that the UFC had signed a heavyweight prospect by the name of Stipe Miocic, I couldn’t help but get excited. I mean… it’s a heavyweight, which is remarkable enough, and on top of that, it’s a fighter whose name doesn’t sound like a generic American wrestler! Nothing against generic American wrestlers, but I don’t get excited to see them fight until they prove that I should get excited. But more than anything, Stipe Miocic sounds very much like a Croatian fighter, and that immediately brings me back to the glory days of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Suddenly, thoughts of head kick knockouts of Igor Vovchanchyn, Aleksander Emelianenko, and Wanderlei Silva flood into my consciousness.
Then I saw that Miocic is based out of Independence, Ohio. Perhaps I’m not out of the “generic American wrestler” territory yet? But then, I saw pictures of Miocic in competition, wearing the unmistakable checkerboard style “Cro Cop” trunks. Yes!
Of course, now, Miocic is not Filipovic, and just because he wears the same trunks doesn’t mean he’ll turn out to be the same fighter. There is good news, though: in Miocic’s six fights, he has five wins by KO and one by submission. The submission? A submission due to a leg kick. I like this guy already!
Unfortunately, I can’t call Miocic a great prospect yet. With a rAP of 38.14, Miocic is on his way to that kind of status, but he probably needs two more wins before his rAP reaches 43.00 or higher, and Miocic breaks into the “elite” tier of fighters in the heavyweight division.
His first test will be a relatively tough one for a fighter making his UFC debut, as he’ll be taking on Joey Beltran. Beltran’s nickname is “The Executioner,” but “The Zombie” might be a better moniker for him. Against Pat Barry, Beltran got hit in the leg over, and over, and over again… but he made it to decision. Against Matt Mitrione, Beltran got clobbered on a regular basis… but he made it to decision. Against Aaron Rosa, Beltran took more than his fair share of punishment… but ended up beating Rosa in the third round.
So if Miocic can take Beltran out, that will be a hugely impressive feat that would result in me officially handing him “top prospect” status. If Miocic beats Beltran by decision, then I don’t know if I would be completely sold yet.
The question is: should Miocic be expected to pull it off? Well, Miocic’s resume isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. Wins against Paul Barry and Bobby Brents look OK on paper, but there’s nothing there that matches the resume that Beltran brings to the table.
SILVA PREDICTION: JOEY BELTRAN (30.15) OVER STIPE MIOCIC (28.87)
This prediction is more the result of Miocic being unproven than anything else. We pretty much know how good Beltran is: he’s an average to below-average UFC heavyweight. With Miocic, we know he can probably at least compete in the UFC, but perhaps he also has the potential to compete at the top end of the heavyweight division. For now, SILVA likes Beltran to beat the newcomer in Miocic, but Miocic definitely has more upside.