This weekend, Stefan Struve will make his ninth appearance inside the Octagon, this time facing the 12-inch shorter Pat "HD" Barry in the co-main event of UFC on Versus 6. Struve is currently 5-3 in his Ultimate Fighting Championship campaign, with heroic performances against Sean McCorkle, Paul Buentello and Denis Stojnic. Against Barry, Struve will look to bounce back from a surprising defeat against Travis Browne at UFC 130, with his sights set on getting himself back into UFC Heavyweight title mix.
In an exclusive interview to LowKick.com, Stefan Struve shared his thoughts about this weekend's fight with Pat Barry, and that, despite his friendship with "HD," he's going to try to give the fans in the third row some extra value for their money. Struve also spoke about the potential influence of Alistair Overeem winning the UFC Heavyweight title on MMA in the Netherlands, and whether Wikipedia should be trusted as a reliable source for sport's statistics and records.
Feel free to follow Stefan on Twitter @StefanStruve.
You've got a big fight coming up this weekend, you're fighting Pat Barry. Could you talk a little big about your training camp and your preparations for the bout?
Well, for Pat I did my training camp in Holland because he's a kickboxer of course. So, I think the best preparation you can get to fight a kickboxer is in Holland. I trained with guys like Daniel Ghita and "Mua Beceedi?", who are excellent strikers, and a couple of other really good kickboxers who were training at the gym. So, I had really good preparation for this fight. Of course we didn't only work on kickboxing, we did all of the other aspects too, like the wrestling and jiu-jitsu aspects. I had a good training camp. I feel good and confident, so I'm ready for Saturday.
Usually, for your other fights, you have trained in California with Vladimir Matyushenko and Antoni Hardonk. Obviously, with Pat Barry being a kickboxer, was that the reason behind your decision to stay in the Netherlands?
Yea, but my last fight I trained in Holland as well. About a week before the fight I trained with Antoni a bit. The fight before that, in Montreal, I also trained in Holland, but the fight before that I trained in California with Antoni. So, I train in Holland most of the time. I feel good with all of my family and friends and everything here. All my training partners, team, and trainer as well, so I feel good here. And like I said, the preparation was good and I feel great at the end of the ride.
I read an interview with Pat Barry and he was talking about being a kickboxer and he's got a really impressive kickboxing background. He said that if he beats you, then you won't be able to go back to the Netherlands because you lost to an American kickboxer. Is there any truth to this?
I'm not afraid to engage in a kickboxing battle with him, but we both know our strengths. He's a great fighter on his feet, but his ground game is not so good. His wrestling is getting better, obviously, because he's training with Brock Lesnar's team, but he's still not a wrestler in origin, he's a kickboxer. I think I can drag him to the ground and impose my will on him from there, but I'm not afraid to strike with him as well. I may have gotten caught in my last fight (against Travis Browne), but up until then the fight was easy for me. I was feeling lazy, using my reach and when I got him to the ground I almost submitted him, but made a little mistake and he was able to defend himself. It happened and I learned from it and now I feel really confident and good for this Saturday, so we'll see.
Speaking of submissions, is that the area where you feel you have the biggest advantage in this match-up?
Well, obviously, if you look at my record I have over 20 wins and, I don't even know, about 18 submissions or something like that. There's no secret about my ground game and he knows that too. So, he doesn't want to go to the ground with me, that's for sure.
According to Wikipedia, you have 14 submission victories out of 21 wins.
Ok, well this is going to be my 31st pro-fight, I'm sure of that. I've got five losses, so 26 wins I believe and five losses. You can’t trust Wikipedia, man.
Things like records, submission wins, knockout wins, etc. Is that something that even interests you?
No, not really. I'm proud of my record and I've fought all over Europe, I've fought in the United States, I've fought in Canada, I've fought in Asia, I've fought in Siberia, I've fought all over the world. I'm proud of that and I'm proud of my record, but as for the rest, it only shows people's strengths. People with a lot of knockouts have good knockout power, people with a lot of submissions are good on the ground, so as for the rest, no not really. Pat has only had nine MMA fights I believe. So, it doesn't say much in my opinion. He's a great fighter.
Did you see his last fight against Cheick Kongo? If so, do you expect the same type of all-out war this weekend?
Yea, of course I've seen it, it was an awesome fight. He made the mistake of dropping his hands low, he thought it was already over. He made a mistake and Kongo took advantage of that. The knockout was crazy. But, we'll see. Of course I'm going to try to use my reach the way I should and when I do that I don't see any problems on my feet, and if I can take him down, the fight is mine in my opinion.
There was also a video, I believe you saw this and responded, where Pat Barry is jokingly training for the fight. He's doing some sort of jumping kick and in your response you just kick a little toy on the ground. Is the pre-fight banter something that bothers you? Because, looking back at your fight with Sean McCorkle, the way you beat McCorkle, is it something that gives you motivation to perform?
Yea, but this was different. I didn't know McCorkle before he started talking trash on Twitter. I've known Pat for a couple years now and we've always been cool with each other. Of course, that won't make a difference on Saturday because I'm going to try to kick his head into the third row. But, he's a cool dude and there's been no real trash talk or anything going on, it's just for the fun and to get the fans engaged. People are excited for the fight and so am I.
I'd like to ask you about MMA in the Netherlands. How do you see MMA developing here and do you think the UFC should come to the Netherlands?
I think for the UFC to come to Holland would be a big move for MMA in Holland. All of the countries that the UFC goes to, it gives a huge boost and people get interested. They want to know more, people start training and everything, so that would be really good. We've got a couple of guys in the UFC, Alistair Overeem just signed and he's got a big fight coming up. It would be awesome for Holland if he could get the title. It would give Holland a huge boost. He's so strong, a good striker, and he can fight on the ground. So it's going to be awesome to see how well he does against Brock Lesnar. MMA fighting is growing in Holland and you've got a lot of guys starting to train MMA or kickboxing, you hear people talk about it on the street, and more and more people get interested. Before, people in Holland wouldn't talk about MMA or they would talk about it in a bad way. So, it's growing, getting bigger, and like I said, if Alistair can get a title or I can get a couple of wins, it's going to give MMA in Holland a big boost.
So, what's you're prediction for this weekend, submission or knockout?
Well, I never do predictions because you never know what happens. But, I promise the fans an awesome fight like always. I'm going to go in there and give my all and the fans will get what they deserve. I think Pat will say the same, it's going to be an awesome fight, and I'm going to do my best to entertain the people.
Ok great. Thank you very much Stefan, would you like to thank anyone or mention any sponsors?
Yea, I just want to thank my training team and my trainers for getting me ready for this fight again, of course, and I want to thank Hayabusa MMA, Punishment, MMA Fightwear, and thanks for the support from everyone. I'm going to deliver on Saturday.
Thanks again Stefan and good luck on Saturday!