Gabriel Gonzaga is a UFC heavyweight who after many years in the sport still finds himself in the hunt for the title. “Napão” has often shown the potential to challenge top ranked fighters, defeating numerous high-level opponents in spectacular fashion, but he is yet to reach the true pinnacle of the sport.
The Brazilian’s first stint in the UFC saw him pick up victories over tough fighters such as Kevin Jordan, Carmelo Marrero, Justin McCully and in a memorable matchup, Mirko Filipović, who Gonzaga knocked out with a head kick in the first round of their UFC Heavyweight title eliminator bout at UFC 70. That KO went on to become the “Knockout of the Year” for 2007 and will long be remembered as one of the best highlight reel knockouts in the sport to date.
The win over “Cro Cop” earned Gabriel a shot at Randy Couture, who was UFC heavyweight champion at the time, but unfortunately Gonzaga suffered a third round TKO loss. After that fight at UFC 74 Gonzaga fought within the UFC’s heavyweight division for three more years before being released by the promotion following a unanimous decision loss to Brendan Schaub at UFC 121 in October 2010.
After securing a third round submission win over Parker Porter at a Reality Fighting event in October 2011, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blackbelt got the call to return to the UFC and face Ednaldo Oliveira at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Napão” made quick work of his opponent finishing with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their matchup.
Since then, the 34-year-old has gone on to pick up wins over Ben Rothwell, Dave Herman and most recently Shawn Jordan. He finished Herman and Jordan via first round KO, so it will be interesting to see if he can do the same at UFC on FOX 10 this Saturday.
Gabriel’s opponent, Stipe Miocic, has a UFC record of 4-1 in the UFC and is currently ranked No.8 in the heavyweight division. He went on a three fight winning streak during 2011/12, defeating Joey Beltran, Phil De Fries and Shane del Rosario with his only loss in the promotion suffered against Stefan Struve at UFC on FUEL TV 5 in September 2012. The former NCAA Division I Wrestler bounced back into the win column at UFC 161 in June 2013, where he earned a unanimous decision win over Roy “Big Country” Nelson.
Although a win over Gonzaga would be big for Miocic, the Brazilian has a lot more to gain. Currently ranked at No.12 in the heavyweight division, “Napão” stands to make a jump up the ladder with a good performance against Miocic.
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