Stefan Struve did it again, didn't he?
This is a fighter who, quite literally, has never won the first round of any of his UFC fights, so to say he's a slow starter would be an understatement of the highest order. Struve either uses the first round to feel out his opponent or he simply gets beaten around the cage, as seen in his fight with Christian Morecraft.
But then the second round starts, and things change. Drastically.
That's what happened at UFC on Fuel 5, where Struve faced Stipe Miocic in a five-round main event that was never going to go five rounds. Miocic gave up serious reach to Struve and yet somehow managed to jab him a bunch of times, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Miocic was able to finish the job.
And then the second round started. Miocic was visibly winded, and Struve took immediate advantage, chasing him around the cage and landing tons of power shots. Three minutes and 50 seconds later, Struve landed bomb after bomb while the referee implored Miocic to fight back. But Miocic simply couldn't fight back, and the fight was called.
Another win for Struve, his fourth in a row. Another comeback win. And another finish.
Struve is now 9-3 in the UFC. He's only 24 years old, which is pretty incredible if you really think about it. And it seems that now—after all of those fights and some heartbreaking losses—Struve is finally finding himself in the cage.
But is he a top ten heavyweight? Yeah, I think so. Let's take a look at my current top 10 heavyweight rankings:
1. Junior dos Santos
2. Cain Velasquez
3. Daniel Cormier
4. Alistair Overeem
5. Fabricio Werdum
6. Frank Mir
7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
8. Josh Barnett
9. Antonio Silva
10. Mike Russow
It's a tough thing to figure out where I'd place him. It'll become easier after next week's bout between Travis Browne and Antonio Silva, because Browne KO'd Struve last year and you can't really put him behind the Skyscraper if he beats Silva. A win over Silva would likely move Browne into the rankings for the first time.
But if "Bigfoot" gets the job done and beats Browne, I'll probably include Struve at No. 10 the next time I have to submit my rankings. And I'd feel comfortable doing it.
Is Struve a top ten heavyweight?
At the end of the day, Struve has won four in a row and six of his last seven fights. All of those wins have been finishes of one sort or another. Some of them came over guys who are nowhere near the top ten, but in the heavyweight division, a winning streak is a winning streak. And when you put that winning streak together by submitting and knocking out your opponents, well, it's going to go a long way.
Struve wants Fabricio Werdum in his next fight. I like the idea. I suggested in my post-fight column that he should fight Josh Barnett in Strikeforce, but I'm fine with Werdum, too.
But no matter who Struve faces, one thing is clear: he deserves to take a step up in the level of competition he's facing. If he's not a top-10 heavyweight right now, then he deserves a chance to prove that he can become one.