CLEVELAND -- There is just something about a loss that motivates good fighters to become great.
UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is a much different fighter than when he last stepped into The Octagon against Junior dos Santos, against whom he will attempt to make a successful defense against in the main event of UFC 211 at American Airlines Center in Dallas Saturday.
Miocic has won four straight fights, all by knockout or technical knockout, and his last three bouts have not made it to a second round.
Here is a look at Miocic’s road to redemption against dos Santos.
GETTING BACK THE WIN COLUMN
Less than six months after suffering a unanimous decision loss to dos Santos in December of 2014, Miocic travelled halfway around the world to take on New Zealand’s Mark Hunt at the top of the card of UFC Fight Night: Miocic vs. Hunt in Adelaide, Australia, but it was that long journey that set in motion his rise to the top of the heavyweight division.
Although it took until the fifth round to earn the TKO win, Miocic was up to the challenge of taking down the hard-jawed Hunt. Miocic landed 361 of his 464 attempted strikes, of which 113 were considered “significant” by FightMetric.
Additionally, Miocic was successful with six of his eight takedown attempts and held control of the bout for 16:09.
The 361 landed strikes are a single-fight record in the UFC.
Stipe Miocic set to defend UFC Championship against Junior dos Santos
DOMINATING FORMER CHAMPION
Andre Arlovski was on quite the comeback, winning six straight bouts heading into his January 2016 fight with Miocic, but the heavy-handed native of Euclid quickly dispatched of the former UFC heavyweight champion.
Miocic needed just 11 punches and 54 seconds to finish off Arlovski. All 11 of Miocic’s strikes were “significant,” and following the win, he ran around The Octagon demanding a shot at the title after his eighth win in 10 UFC outings.
The win over Arlovski was the first of three straight Performance/Fight of the Night bonuses for Miocic.
CAPTURING THE TITLE
After dispatching of Arlovski in January, Miocic made good on his title opportunity by knocking out Fabricio Werdum in front of 45,000 fans in Curitiba, Brazil, last May.
Miocic won the UFC championship after delivering a right hand to Werdum’s jaw in the main event of UFC 198.
The former champion was chasing Miocic around the outer rim of The Octagon, and left his chin exposed. Despite backing away from Werdum’s pursuit, Miocic threw a powerful right hand that floored the champion.
Miocic added three shots to the downed Werdum before referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in-between the fighters to end the bout at 2:14 of the first round.
In his first title defense in the main event of UFC 203 last September, Miocic faced a difficult challenge from world-champion kickboxer Alistair Overeem, who had been a champion in every other mixed martial arts organization he ever fought in outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Early in the first round, Miocic was pursuing Overeem when he got caught with a punch to the jaw and fell backwards. Overeem immediately jumped at the opportunity and put Miocic into a guillotine choke, but the champion kept his feet on the mat and circled his way out of the submission.
Then, later in the bout, Overeem attempted to throw a right leg kick when Miocic checked it and sent the challenger to the mat. After the takedown, Overeem pulled guard, but Miocic was not to be denied. Miocic landed a pair of right-handed hammer fists before throwing a left-right combination to Overeem’s face.
Following another left hand, Miocic landed four straight rights to Overeem’s jaw, knocking out the challenger and forcing the referee’s stoppage with just 33 seconds left in the first round.