During his three-and-a-half-year UFC career, Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve has become known for three things, and three things only:
2) Clowning one-dimensional sluggers with his knotty ground-game.
In fact, the combination of Struve’s aggressive grappling, underrated knockout power, and tendency to lose consciousness during fights has made him one of the least decision-prone fighters on the UFC roster; his 8-3 record in the promotion includes only one fight that went the distance, which came in his December 2009 squeaker over Paul Buentello.
But it’s impossible to ignore that the three losses on his record all came from brutal, lights-out, first-round knockouts. Does that worry Struve, who will be entering the cage this Saturday against the heavy-handed (and heavier-elbowed) Stipe Miocic at UFC on FUEL 5 in Nottingham? No, because Struve actually has a great chin, if you think about it. Allow him to explain:
“I know for a fact that I’ve got a really good chin,” Struve told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I showed that in multiple fights…The shots that I got hit with by Browne and Nelson would have taken anybody down,” he said. “So that’s not something I really worry about.”
I think that when Struve says he “knows for a fact” that he’s got a strong chin, he doesn’t so much know it as believe it despite a lack of physical evidence. Because to believe otherwise would force him to seriously consider his limitations in a way that might affect his confidence on fight night. It’s a little trick that fighters do to keep the nightmares away.
Then again, when Struve says, “The shots that I got hit with by Browne and Nelson would have taken anybody down,” there’s some truth to that, obviously. The 57% knockout ratio in the heavyweight division is no coincidence — most human brains simply aren’t equipped to handle a haymaker from an angry XXXL fist without going into hibernation mode. It’s just that compared to other UFC heavyweights, Struve’s chin doesn’t seem to be any better than the next guy’s.
I mean, we’re not talking about Mark Hunt, here. We’re talking about Stefan Struve — just another big man fighting other big men, who’s already suffered a good deal of scary head trauma in his fight career. So maybe getting his brain turned off in future fights is something he should be worrying about.