The co-main event of tomorrow night’s show will feature a heavyweight battle between two fighters looking to break into title contention, with 21-2 Dave Herman taking on UFC veteran Stefan Struve. Herman’s record certainly looks impressive, even more so when you consider one of his two losses was by disqualification, a result that isn’t necessarily an indicator of a fighter performing poorly. However, like I said about Sean Loeffler, what matters isn’t how many wins you have, but who you’ve managed to beat. Dave Herman may have 21 wins, but only two of those are against quality opponents, and those opponents – John Olav Einemo and Yoshihiro Nakao – aren’t exactly the best heavyweights the sport of MMA has to offer.
So you might expect me to favor Stefan Struve to win this fight. Not the case. Yes, Struve is 6-3 in the UFC, which sounds pretty nice, but again, you have to look at who the wins were against. In Struve’s case, his six UFC wins have been against Pat Barry, Christian Morecraft, Chase Gormley, Denis Stojnic, Paul Buentello, and Sean McCorkle. These are not all-stars we’re talking about.
Struve is known for his incredible 6’11” height and the exceptionally long reach that goes along with it. Struve is also known for being unable to put that reach to good use. Striking does not come naturally to Struve at all, and while he’s landed strikes against guys like Paul Buentello, he will never be the same kind of striker that his freakishly tall Dutch counterpart Semmy Schilt is. Instead, Struve has been able to use his length for submissions on the ground. Struve has 15 wins by submission in his career, including eight by triangle choke. If Dave Herman takes him down, he’ll have to be very careful to avoid being entangled in that choke.
Of course, I highly doubt that Herman will attempt any takedowns against Struve. Herman is known for diverse, wild striking, featuring things like flying knees and spinning back kicks. His win over Jim York was by TKO due to axe kicks. Now, I say Herman is a wild striker because, for all the offense he’s able to generate, he gets tagged a lot as well. In his UFC debut last June, Herman seemed to be dazed for a little while from strikes he ate courtesy of John Olav Einemo. Einemo was an opponent who hadn’t fought in professional MMA for five years, and came from a submission wrestling background. It’s a troubling sign that Herman would get hit so much by a guy like Einemo, even if Einemo had spent his time training at Golden Glory in the Netherlands.
Still, if Herman and Struve are in a striking match, I have to favor Herman, because I’ll take “wild” over “awkward” every time. Making matters worse is that Struve is unlikely to take Herman to the ground. Struve rarely attempts takedowns in his fights; instead, he relies on his opponent to get the fight to the ground, and when that happens, then Struve unleashes his ground attack.
SILVA PREDICTION: DAVE HERMAN (62.97) OVER STEFAN STRUVE (54.44)
Because Herman is a wild striker with somewhat porous defense, it’s possible that Struve could beat him in a striking battle by TKO. It’s just unlikely, and what’s even less likely, given Struve’s fight history, is that this fight is going to go to the ground. Very simply, Struve doesn’t attempt many takedowns, and Herman shouldn’t be interested in the ground game at all in this fight. Put it all together, and Dave Herman should have the definitive edge to win this fight.