Having been out since August of last year with an enlarged heart and leaking aortic valve, the UFC announced late Wednesday night that Stefan Struve will be returning to the Octagon on July 5 in Las Vegas, and will be facing off against fellow heavyweight Matt Mitrione.
The UFC 175 match will stand as Struve’s first fight back in the brand since going down in TKO defeat to Mark Hunt in March of 2013, at UFC on Fuel TV 8: Silva vs. Stann. On the night, the 7’0” 9 – 4 “Skyscraper” stood his ground against Hunt into the third round of their bout. However, “The Super Samoan” laid him low early on in the final frame, fracturing Struve’s jaw with a thunderous left hook and fight ending walk-off punch.
Since the night, the 26-year-old Struve has been on the mend with medical issues. Cleared by his doctors last month, “Skyscraper” now has a chance to put his healthy heart to the test and demonstrate that he’s “better than (he’s) ever been.”
The test – Matt Mitrione – is a solid one, and a good choice for the number twelve ranked Struve in his first fight back in (what will be) nearly a year of being off.
In the brand since 2009 and 7 – 3 through his senior circuit tenure, “Meathead” is a fighter that presents a credible threat to Struve while standing – six TKO’s for an 86% finishing rate – yet he poses little hazard to “Skyscraper” on the ground – zero submissions.
Mitrione is light on his feet, has power and can be explosive. However, he’s also demonstrated that he can be reckless in the Octagon and that he can let his ego get the better of him in a fight. Considering his qualities as a fighter, and taking into consideration Struve’s height and reach advantage, as well as his considerable edge on the ground, the match looks more like a tune-up fight for Stuve than a real challenge.
However, where the Dutch fighter has it all over Mitrione in a number of departments he loses out in chin. “Meathead” has only been dropped and stopped once in his career, where Struve has been put felled five times. As such, and as Mark Hunt, Travis Browne, Roy Nelson and Junior dos Santos have all proven, if a fighter can hit Struve’s ‘button’ hard enough he can be stopped. Resultantly, and if Mitrione can keep the fight standing, avoiding a ground war with Struve, then he might just find himself the winner of a ‘who’s got the better chin’ contest.
Either way, win or lose against “Meathead”, its great news to hear that “Skyscraper” is back.