UFC 130 Fight Card: How High Is the Ceiling for Stefan Struve?

Matt SaccaroContributor IIIMay 27, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24:  UFC fighter Chase Gormley (R) battles with UFC fighter Stefan Struve (L) during their Heavyweight bout at UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun at Staples Center on October 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

At UFC 130 a fight will take place that will determine the future of the heavyweight division...

...and that fight is NOT Frank Mir vs. Roy "Big Country" Nelson.

The fight in question is actually Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve vs. Travis Browne. This fight is just as important as the Mir-Nelson fight, if nor more so! While Mir-Nelson is more important for its short term implications—who gets the next crack at current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez—Struve-Browne is more important in its impact on the heavyweight landscape in the long term.

The fact of the matter is that if Struve is victorious on Saturday night, he will likely find himself in a number one contender fight not too far down the road.

Even if he loses a hypothetical number one contender fight, he would have gained irreplaceable name recognition and popularity—if a fight with Sean McCorkle was good enough to co-main event UFC 124, imagine what the UFC would do if Struve fought a serious contender!

Shockingly, Struve is the considered the underdog in his fight with Browne despite his advantages in experience (25 fights as opposed to 11) and massive size and reach advantage (Struve is 6'11" and will have a five-inch reach advantage).

Browne is only 1-0-1 in the UFC and the only notable wins in his career were over Abe Wagner and James McSweeney. Both fighters are no longer in the UFC and the latter currently has a 4-8 record.

Struve, on the other hand, is 5-2 in the UFC and is overall more experienced on the big stage, having fought such fighters as Paul Buentello, Junior Dos Santos and Roy Nelson.

The only danger for Struve is getting knocked out. He has been knocked out twice in the UFC and has been severely rocked several times. However, this sometimes works to his advantage; his opponents knock him to the ground and aren't careful enough because they think he is dazed. That is when he uses is submission skills to get the tap out.

Should Struve lose to Browne, it still won't lower the ceiling for his career. At 23 years of age, Struve is young enough to improve any holes in his game. Struve's future is also assured by the fact that he always brings the fight and has a tremendous amount of heart; the UFC always takes care of fighters like that.

These factors—Struve's ability to entertain, heart, age, and last but not least his fighting skill—all ensure that Struve will always have a place in the UFC heavyweight division.

The ceiling is very high for Stefan Struve, and not just because of his height.