Another busy weekend in the world of mixed martial arts and UFC takes the action inside the Octagon across the pond for a special UFC on Fuel card that features a heavyweight clash between Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic.
The 6'11" Struve is looking to prove that he is much more than just a gatekeeper in UFC. He has won his last three fights to run his UFC record to 8-3 (24-5 overall). His ability to use his size, long limbs and strength to get opponents down makes him a nightmare to prepare for.
Who Has More Upside In the Heavyweight Division?
Miocic is slowly making a name for himself in the heavyweight division. He's not on the verge of stardom, but he does have a career record of 9-0 and has won his last two fights with impressive knockouts. This will be, literally and figuratively, the biggest test of his career.
Where: Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England
When: Saturday, September 29. Main Card Fights start at 4:00 p.m. ET. Facebook Preliminary Fights start at 1:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Fuel TV (Main Card); Facebook (Preliminary Card)
|MAIN CARD ON FUEL TV|
|Heavyweight Bout: Stefan Struve vs. Stipe Miocic|
|Welterweight Bout: Dan Hardy vs. Amir Sadollah|
|Welterweight Bout: John Hathaway vs. John Maguire|
|Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett vs. Yves Jabouin|
|Welterweight Bout: Che Mills vs. Duane Ludwig|
|Lightweight Bout: Paul Sass vs. Matt Wiman|
|PRELIMINARY CARD ON FACEBOOK|
|Light Heavyweight Bout: Kyle Kingsbury vs. Jimi Manuwa|
|Middleweight Bout: Tom Watson vs. Brad Tavares|
|Featherweight Bout: Andy Ogle vs. Akira Corassani|
|Featherweight Bout: Jason Young vs. Robbie Peralta|
|175-Pound Catchweight Bout: DaMarques Johnson vs. Gunnar Nelson|
Struve's Keys to Victory
Use kickboxing skills to grind Miocic down; dominate the ground
Struve's game is dependent on being able to work the ground, but he does have strong kickboxing skills and should be able to land some hard strikes to get Miocic out of his element.
Once Struve finds his rhythm and figures out what Miocic wants to do, he will be able to shoot for takedowns and use his abnormally long limbs to hold his opponent on the ground to work for a submission or go for the ground-and-pound.
Miocic's Keys to Victory
Let speed and precision frustrate Struve
Miocic has a strong boxing background that will keep him in any fight. Make no mistake, though, he is not a pushover. He is not a great all-around fighter, but he can trade with anyone in the division.
He is a lot more comfortable keeping the fight standing, so he has to avoid Struve's takedowns at all costs.
This is the biggest test of Miocic's career so far, and easily the most high-profile fight he has had. Don't underestimate the nerves he will have in this spot. When the fight really gets into its groove, he should be fine. But the question is, will he be around long enough for it to reach that point?
What They Are Saying
Stefan Struve is slowly moving up the heavyweight ranks and has a lot on the line in this fight. Like Miocic, this is his first main event. He has to prove that he can fight any style if he wants to be taken as a serious contender in the near-future.
Here is what he told reporters leading up to the fight about his preparation and strategy going into uncharted territory. (via Sports Illustrated)
"I want to show everyone what I can do on my feet," said Struve. "I want to show that I know how to make use of my reach advantage and that I have finishing power. I want to show that I've put it all together and show everyone I've become a complete fighter."
Standing up has always been the knock on Struve, though he has gotten a few knockouts in his UFC career against lesser talents.
Undercard Fight to Watch: DaMarques Johnson vs. Gunnar Nelson
Johnson is one of those fighters that looks a lot better than he really is. He enters this fight with a 15-11 career record and consecutive losses against John Maguire and Mike Swick. He was put in this fight just over a week ago after Pascal Krauss went down with an injury.
Nelson is making his UFC debut after a 9-0-1 record in various promotions, most notably BAMMA. Given that he had to change his preparation after his original opponent went down, it will be interesting to see how he handles himself in this spotlight.
Main Event Prediction
Struve and Miocic is a tremendous clash-of-styles bout. You can make a legitimate argument for either based on how well they do what it is they do—Struve on the ground, Miocic standing up.
History has told me that, when in doubt, always go with the puncher, because he can strike at a moment's notice.
Miocic wins via third-round KO