Standing almost 7 feet tall with an 84″ reach, Stefan Struve lived up to the moniker of “Skyscraper”. At 30 years old, he’s amassed a 28-9 record with 25 finishes. He’s won 7 post fight bonuses in the UFC and owns a finish over current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
Yet Struve is one of the UFC’s premier underachievers, never fixing the obvious holes in his game.
The Tallest and the Longest
When you see Struve’s 17 submission wins, it’s no surprise that most of them are chokes. His enormous limbs are ideal for wrapping around opponents. Similar to Rockhold at middleweight, Struve’s frame makes his top control lethal. But that’s rarer than you’d think; Struve also has 5 wins by knockout in the UFC.
Long limbs have greater range while his height forces his opponents to swing upwards and lose power on their shots. But they also have a hidden strength thanks to the laws of physics. See, long limbs have more time to accelerate and therefore produce ridiculous power at maximum speed. Where do you think Francis Ngannou’s legendary power comes from? His ridiculous length adds power to his full body swings.
Struve works on the same principle, albeit to a less spectacular degree. Christian Morecraft had spent an entire round pounding Struve’s face into mush and lost on one key exchange. He tried to swing hooks with Struve and lost on every single punch. Morecraft would rotate and barely whiff while Struve’s seemingly lazy blows were snapping his head from side to side like a violent disagreement.
Cracks in the Foundation
Getting knocked out 6 times by UFC heavyweights is worrying in itself, but it’s the way Struve gets knocked out that is troublesome. He has been knocked out four times in the first round, twice in the third round. The first round knockouts were from one or two clean punches, whereas the third round knockouts saw his size advantage erode over time in favor of his opponents’ cleaner technique.
For a fighter who has to outfight his whole career, Struve doesn’t seem to understand how to do it.
He throws his strikes like he saw them in a textbook but never bothered to tweak them himself; there’s no adjustment based on an opponent’s speed or propensity to counter. Mark Hunt is the anti-Struve in terms of build, but by the third round he was timing his right hand over Struve’s jab over and over again. I was one of the few to point out that Alexander Volkov’s technical boxing would give him a huge advantage over Struve and was proven right as he crushed the Dutchman in the third with a destructive combination.
Struve isn’t a guaranteed submission machine off his back anymore either. The fact that Mark Hunt (of all people) could take him down and avoid any submission attempt is absurd. The moment Alistair Overeem got him on his back he was knocked out from the ground and pound.
No Sky for the Skyscraper
Struve really is the definition of a gatekeeper.
Because of the shallow heavyweight talent pool, there’s an enormous gulf between the elite and the small fry. Struve lacks the technique to challenge the elite, but his natural talent is enough to overwhelm the lesser competitors. At 30 years old with 37 professional fights and 6 devastating knockout losses in the UFC, I don’t know how quickly he can improve. It’s sad, because Struve is a nice and genuine fighter. I would like nothing more than to watch him claw his way up a relatively short ladder and at least get a title shot.
He fights Andrei Arlovski next, which should let him pick up another post-fight bonus by cracking a chinny opponent. After him though, this skyscraper may be scheduled for demolition.