In just a few days UFC Heavyweight Stefan Struve will be in the main event for the first time in his 12 fight UFC career. He has come a long way since being knocked out by current UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos in his organizational debut at UFC 95 in February of 2009.
Three years later and his career has come full circle as he will fight in England for the first time since that fateful night in London. Since then he has gone 8-2 with his only losses coming to Roy Nelson and Travis Browne. He has picked up three submission of the night bonuses as well as one knockout of the night award.
His opponent Stipe Miocic is undefeated and has looked extremely impressive in his three UFC contests. Miocic is a superb athlete who competed in baseball and wrestling while in college. Let’s not forget he’s a Golden Gloves Champion boxer and when he’s not fighting or training he is a fireman. Struve has put in a lot of hard work for this fight and has trained in the Netherlands and in Los Angeles.
“When I am here in Los Angeles I train with Henry Akins at Dynamix MMA,” Struve told BJPenn.Com. “In the Netherlands I train with Bob Schreiber and Team Schreiber. I always try to stay on top of my training because when you stop you have a hard time catching up once you do return to the gym. After my last fight I took a week off and spent some time with my girl. As long as I’m not injured I am training.”
We last saw Struve forcing Lavar Johnson to tapout in the first round at UFC 146. That card was historic as it was the first time in UFC history that all of the main card bouts consisted of heavyweight fighters. Johnson had come in to that match-up having won his first two UFC bouts by first round knockout.
“I knew before the card even took place it was going to be a great event,” said Struve. “It was full of great heavyweights and there were so many exciting finishes. Every one of the main card fights ended by submission or knockout. Even the undercard fights were good, it wasn’t only the heavyweights who delivered.”
“My coaches figured Johnson would either try to rush me and go for the quick knockout or be patient and try to counter with wild punches. We only had a week to prepare for the fight because of the injury to Mark Hunt. He came at me and I decided to go for the clinch and take him down. He pretty much gave me his arm so I decided to jump guard and go for the flying armbar which I didn’t get. A few seconds later I got a hold of his other arm and he tapped.”
Struve is extremely excited to be fighting in England once again. It’s very close to his home in the Netherlands and he has competed there many times.
“It’s only a one hour flight for me so it’s almost like fighting in my own backyard,” Struve explained. “Before I signed with the UFC I fought in the UK a lot and that is where I made my debut for the organization. I’m expecting a lot of friends and family to come support me and watch my fight.”
Both Miocic and Struve have been saying how much they respect one another, but they have also predicted that this fight will not go the full five rounds. Between the two of them they have two decisions in 38 career fights. Struve is very confident regardless of where this fight may end up.
“He’s a great fighter and also a nice guy,” said Struve. “We’ve fought on a few UFC cards together and got to talking and hung out together a bit, he’s a good guy. He’s got good hands, good wrestling and he’s pretty well-rounded. He’s 9-0 and 3-0 in the UFC, but I think I’m a better fighter all around. If I perform to the best of my abilities I feel he won’t even touch me when we’re standing. If he wants to use his wrestling to take me down he’s going to end up in my guard and I don’t see that working out to well for him. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work making sure I’m in tip top shape for this fight.”
Struve has the opportunity to be the first man to defeat Miocic, but it’s also an opportunity for him to climb the ladder of the UFC heavyweight division. Earning title shots takes time and Struve isn’t about to start thinking ahead of himself, not with a tough test in front of him.
“I just want to continue to win and climb the ladder,” said a confident Struve. “I believe I have the ability and the skills to work towards a title shot in the next year or two. I’m looking to accomplish big things and the biggest goal is a title shot, but I’m not looking past Miocic. That’s all I’m thinking of right now.”
In the past year the UFC has filmed versions of The Ultimate Fighter in Brazil and has recently wrapped up a season featuring English fighters vs. their Australian counterparts. Lorenzo Fertitta recently made his way to India where they will shoot an upcoming season of TUF there. With the expansion of the show growing rapidly Struve would welcome an opportunity to coach if the UFC produces a European season.
“I would love to coach especially if they are planning on doing something in Europe or Holland,” Struve offered. “I think it would be awesome and while I don’t think I’m at a stage in my career where they would choose me I would love to do it. I think they would go with the bigger names at this point. I think it would be great to help guys train, get better and eventually get into the UFC.”
Since signing with the UFC Struve has proven to be an exciting fighter. His stand-up has improved greatly and with his long limbs he is a submission threat off of his back against anyone. He will look to continue his string of exciting performances this Saturday against Miocic.
“I always say when I’m fighting it’s never boring,” said the native of Netherlands. “I go in there and I look to finish and Miocic is that type of fighter too. He has only one decision in his nine wins. I think we are going to produce fireworks and I can promise you that this fight isn’t going to go five rounds. I’ve only been past the second round once in my career and I want to keep it that way. You’re going to see two guys collide and try to finish each other.”Tags: featured, Junior Dos Santos, Lavar Johnson, Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, Stipe Miocic, travis browne, ufc 146, ufc on fuel tv 5