Stefan Struve's knockout loss to Mark Hunt served as just another example of Struve's poor understanding of his build in striking matches.
Every time I write about Struve before an event I point to the same things and where other fighters change from fight to fight and give me new factors and techniques to talk about—Struve still remains flawed in the exact same areas.
Today we'll take a brief glance over some of the factors which affected the outcome of his UFC on Fuel 8 bout.
After opening with a high kick, Struve attempted a chasse or oblique kick to the front of Hunt's lead leg—a technique which is wonderfully suited for keeping the range and is used by Jon Jones and Anderson Silva when they don't want to engage in a fire fight.
This seemed like a brilliant sign for things to come, but sadly it was all downhill from here on the feet from Struve.
Immediately, Struve's bad footwork habits appeared every time Hunt attacked—he would back straight up.
In a great many of Struve's fights he has simply run back until he hit the fence, then looked surprised when he did so. Against Hunt, Struve ran a mile backward every time Hunt attacked, leaving him to run straight into the fence while Hunt stood in the center of the octagon.
After some impressive ground work and a commendable willingness to pull guard from Struve, the fight recommenced on the feet in the second-round.
Here, credit to him, Struve attempted to use his jab. Unfortunately, being a tall man is a lot more complex than simply jabbing—because if you jab and stand still there is still the constant danger of the opponent closing the distance, just as Hunt did.
In response to Struve's jabs Hunt would slip and counter with his own, much shorter jab.
Or Hunt would parry Struve's jab across and counter with the left hook.
Hunt's right hand was constantly open and waiting to parry Struve's jab to create the opportunity to rush the lanky Dutchman, and it certainly paid dividends throughout the fight. Struve was often forced to return to his bread and butter—his greatest striking sin, covering up.
I have said it before and I will say it again, covering up is not a suitable defense when wearing 4oz gloves.
Don't believe me?
Go and watch the old film of Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey's era when much smaller gloves were the norm and notice how little anyone attempts to cover up in the modern boxing style. Without large gloves to pad the blows on one's hands and fill the gaps in a guard, covering up is simply providing openings for the opponent to fire through.
Hunt responded to Struve's constant covering up with a good selection of strikes.
The right straight to the body .
The left hook to the body.
The left hook behind Struve's forearm.
The right hook behind Struve's forearm.
Despite battering Struve from pillar to post on the feet, the Dutchman became somewhat numbed to Hunt's blows. If great punchers become predictable they lose the element of surprise which is so important to catching the opponent off guard with a big blow and scoring a knockout.
In simpler terms it is almost the punch which a fighter doesn't see coming which causes their lights to turn off. If a fighter grows accustomed to bracing for certain blows he can hang around a lot longer than he should be able to.
Hunt pulled off the knockout by pulling out a counter punch which I mentioned briefly in my pre-event piece on his striking but didn't go into too much detail about, the cross counter.
Whenever I describe a rear hand straight I deliberately avoid calling it a cross for the reason that in traditional boxing the cross is a specific counter.
The cross counter is a right hook thrown in conjunction with a slip to the left—over the top of an opponent's jab. It is probably the most powerful counter blow in the boxing arsenal and is the reason that the overhand is called the great equalizer.
An overhand which travels over an opponent's own attack is a cross counter and can result in stunning knockouts.
Unfortunately, this timing can either be sublime or ridiculous.
In this day and age it is more often someone swinging their own overhand blindly and happening to catch the opponent as they jab than it is a practiced cross counter. A few fighters still practice this fantastic punch purely as a counter though, such as Alistair Overeem and Hunt.
Hunt attempted this counter over Struve's jab about three times in the entire bout and only glanced with two of them.
The success of the final attempt came as Hunt retreated onto the fence —causing Struve to move forward and attack him where Struve had been on his back foot throughout the bout.
On the final attempt Hunt clearly wobbled Struve who then proceeded to stumble backwards across the octagon—whereupon Hunt gave chase and finished with a left hook. (Gif of that here)
I highly recommend having a look at my article on the cross counter, and then reviewing the Struve vs Hunt bout.
As always, I never set out any prediction on this fight and thought Hunt getting submitted by Struve just as likely as a knockout for the Super Samoan, but a great many of the quirks and tendencies of each fighter which I described in my pre-event pieces were on display in the bout and are worth a read just for that.
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