A lot has changed since Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos first met in 2014. Back then, Miocic was still an up-and-comer in the division, while the Brazilian was the ironclad No. 1 contender. For that matchup, the UFC betting odds opened with JDS as the -200 favorite.
Today, Miocic is the heavyweight champion and The Baddest Man on the Planet, with a successful title defense already under his belt. As for Dos Santos, he hasn’t looked the same since getting annihilated – twice- by Cain Velasquez.
Stipe Miocic (-200) vs Junior Dos Santos (+170)
Over/under 1.5 rounds, over -190, under +150
A Quick First Scrap Recap
Basically, these two shredded each other for five long, hard rounds. While dos Santos walked away with a unanimous decision, both men were bloodied, battered and exhausted. The Brazilian actually scored a knockdown in the third round that probably sealed it, but the fight could have easily gone the other way had Miocic not got caught.
It was a punishing battle of attrition for both men. Miocic left the cage with a busted nose, while Dos Santos left leaking blood from cuts all over his face. It was so bad that the Brazilian was issued a six month medical suspension to recover from his injuries.
So, What’s Changed?
That slugfest with Miocic was his fourth straight fight where he took ridiculous amounts of damage. Since that fight, Dos Santos has only fought twice – once in 2015 and once in 2016. And he hasn’t looked like the same guy that tore through the heavyweight ranks as a hotshot prospect from 2008-2012.
In contrast, Miocic has fought four times, scoring KOs in each victory. More importantly, he won by first-round stoppage in three of those and absolutely dominated Mark Hunt in the other. Despite being a year older than Dos Santos and having just four less fights, the Cleveland native has taken far less damage over his career.
Could This Fight Bring an End to Dos Santos’ UFC Career?
Wear and tear is especially important in the heavyweight division, as big men can incur far more damage in shorter amounts of time. Every fighter in the weight class is powerful enough to put out the lights, and a cracked chin is an unforgivable weakness. Whether Dos Santos’ jaw is irreparably damaged is still in question, but he was laid out by Alistair Overeem just two fights ago.
Their career arcs are trending in opposite directions, and Miocic is peaking as a fighter. Though Dos Santos recaptured some of his form against Ben Rothwell, he is facing a fighter that’s every bit as mobile and athletic. What’s more, Miocic is just beginning to discover his KO power.
How You Should Bet
These are two fighters whose careers are trending in the opposite direction. Miocic is peaking in UFC picks right now, while Dos Santos is struggling to regain his confidence after a series of brutal fights. I’d expect Miocic’s money line to only get more expensive from here on out, so placing a bet on him to win right now would be a good idea.
In contrast, if you think Junior Dos Santos’ return to form against Ben Rothwell is a sign that the Brazilian is back, keep an eye on his UFC betting line as it could go up in the coming weeks. If he gets anywhere near +200 fight odds, “Cigano” becomes an intriguing underdog play.
For more UFC betting news, check out Why UFC 209 Is the First Must-See Card of 2017