No one has ever accused Stefan Struve of being involved in a boring fight, and he would like to keep it that way. Of the 24 year-old Dutchman’s ten showings in the Octagon, only one has gone to the judges—and that was two and a half years ago.
Standing 6’11” tall, the aptly titled “Skyscraper” possesses seven UFC victories. These include some spectacular barnburners, as well as more recently against Pat Barry and Dave Herman, a calmer, more tactical approach to the respective submission and TKO victories.
Unfortunately for Struve, his three losses, at the hands of Travis Browne, Roy Nelson, and Junior dos Santos have ended in devastating T/KO fashion. For the Beverwijk, Holland native, these defeats, as well as his history of brawling, symbolize his own immaturity as a young fighter who made his Octagon debut against current UFC Heavyweight Champ, Dos Santos, mere days after his 21st birthday.
“I feel that I’m at a moment in my career right now where everything is coming together,” Struve stated. “And with all the people that I’m working with and my coaches, all the different skills are coming together, and I’m getting bigger and stronger every fight too. I’m feeling like a well-rounded guy right now, and the maturity is coming too.”
As for the fighter’s two most recent losses:
“In the fight with Travis Browne, if I would have stayed as calm as I did in the last two fights (against Herman and Barry), I think I would have had that fight in the pocket too. The fight with (Roy) Nelson too. If I would have fought that way then, in my opinion, it would have gone a different way too. So I think it (maturity) is gonna play a big role in this fight.”
With a third straight victory, Struve could certainly put himself in the position for a fight with a serious heavyweight contender. Easier said than done, knockout artist Lavar Johnson, currently 2-0 in the UFC, with Knockout of the Night honors on both occasions, stands in his way.
Struve expressed his appreciation for Johnson’s decision to accept this fight on short notice, but does not appear very worried about the other big man’s ability to take him out.
“[Johnson] has looked impressive in his first two fights in the Octagon, but I’m gonna look even more impressive next week.”
“I want to thank him for stepping up on such short notice, but he’s gonna face the best Stefan Struve you’ve seen so far.”
If the Dutchman comes to bang with Johnson, fans can expect a more technically sound fighter, using his reach more to his advantage. However, Struve holds a significant edge on the ground against “Big” Lavar Johnson, and made it no mystery that he plans to bring the fight there and finish him.
“I think I have a huge advantage on the ground, and I’m just gonna have to use my reach and the height… I think if I do that well, then there should be no problem. If you look at the fight I had with Pat Barry, I used my reach, stayed away from his hands, and waited for my chance. And when I got my chance, the fight was over.”
Even with claim that his tendency to stand toe-to-toe with anyone to the detriment of himself is a thing of the past, Struve knows what excites the fans.
“People from the U.S. will always root more for him (an American), but I think styles will attract fans eventually, and I’m never in a boring fight in my opinion. So I’ll win the fans over with my heart and with my style, not with my nationality. That doesn’t matter much when you’re an exciting fighter.”
Struve and Johnson square up this Saturday, May 26 on the all-heavyweight main card of UFC: 146 at 10 P.M. EST.