After being involved with judo in his younger years, Stefan Struve first tried his hand at mixed martial arts as a teenager in the Netherlands.
“My brother was training with my coach—who I’m still with now,” explained Struve, 23. “It was close to my home, so my brother took me to a session and I never left.”
Although Struve can’t remember the specifics of his first day of training— “I think it was a heavy-bag workout,” he recounted—the Beverwijk product emphasized that he has been passionate about the sport since the very beginning.
Since Struve’s fateful first day of training, the man they call “Skyscraper” has showcased his talents in Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Holland, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and South Korea and, since first stepping foot in the Octagon nearly three years ago, has claimed victories over Pat Barry, Paul Buentello, Chase Gormley, Sean McCorkle, Christian Morecraft and Denis Stojnic.
Although he admitted that he is surprised by the success that he has so far enjoyed in the sport and “everything that has come with it,” Struve, who is to return to action against Dave Herman at UFC on Fuel TV 1 in mid-February, is quick to insist that the best, in many ways, is yet to come.
“The fight with Herman is going to be great and when I win that fight, it’s going to be the next highlight of my career,” explained Struve, who has picked up three fight night bonuses during his time in the UFC. “Hopefully I’ll do it in impressive fashion and, hopefully, I’ll get a nice bonus, again.”
“The best Stefan Struve that the world has seen so far and another win—that’s what I expect.”
Looking beyond Struve’s upcoming match, the ‘6’11” heavyweight contender has big plans for the future.
“In the coming year, I’ll hopefully fight three or four times, win all my fights and do it in impressive fashion and become a better fighter with every single fight,” Struve explained.
“There’s a nice, shiny belt for the champ, you know, and I think that I can achieve that and become the champion of the UFC in the years to come. I want to get that belt in impressive fashion and I want to have people talking about my fights for a long time...I just want to keep delivering exciting fights and work my way up to the top.”
Ed Kapp is an Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations were obtained first-hand.