Stipe Miocic walked away as one of the biggest winners of UFC 161. His upset over Roy Nelson is easily the best of his career and gave him experience winning on the big stage of a co-main event on a pay-per-view card.
Miocic wasn't supposed to win. Nelson came into the fight as a sizable favorite, and many questioned the legitimacy of the matchup when it was announced as the co-main event. After all, "Big Country" was sporting a three-fight win streak entering the fight with all three wins coming by way of knockout.
The 30-year-old Miocic was coming off of a knockout loss to Stefan Struve. He wasn't supposed to have a chance. Apparently, he didn't get the memo.
Miocic dominated the fight from bell to bell, getting the unanimous sweep on all three of the judges' scorecards, 30-27.
Here were the biggest keys for the Ohio native and what could be next for him.
Note: All statistics from Fight Metric, unless other wise noted.
While Roy Nelson will always be known for his devastating power, Miocic proved that he was the much better boxer. Time and time again he landed punches right down the pipe while Nelson was trying to land his looping overhand right or uppercuts.
With Miocic's considerable reach advantage, it looked an awful lot like Nelson's losses to Fabricio Werdum and Junior dos Santos.
Both dos Santos and Werdum were able to utilize their longer reaches to keep Nelson at bay and consistently outstrike him.
While it may be a little early to compare Miocic to those two contenders just yet, he should definitely enter the conversation. Both of those fighters got big fights after beating Nelson, and Miocic should too.
Cain Velasquez is the undisputed king of the heavyweight division, in large part, because of his cardio. Thus, it's important for anyone looking to rise up the ladder to have it. While guys like Nelson and Mark Hunt have the power everyone loves to see, they are hurt by their inability to go deep into fights.
In this fight, Miocic showed that he has the cardio necessary to go three rounds with the same energy throughout. As referenced in the previous chart, his significant strikes landed didn't see a dip in the third round. In fact, he landed more than he did in the first round.
That kind of gas tank will be useful as Miocic attempts to work his way up the ladder.
This was an incredible performance for Miocic. As Kenny Florian tweeted out, he's a dangerous fighter:
This is the Miocic I've been waiting for. This performance & win makes him a top heavyweight period! Stipe fulfilling potential = scary 😱— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) June 16, 2013
While Florian's use of "top" is a bit vague, he's definitely worthy of being placed in a fight against another top-10 opponent. Perhaps a fight with the Super Samoan Mark Hunt.