The main event of UFC on Fuel 5 is a heavyweight match that will likely thrust the winner into serious title contention, as the undefeated Stipe Miocic will take on 6’11” Stefan Struve.
Striking: Fans have often lamented that Stefan Struve doesn’t use his reach well. This is true: Struve seldom does an adequate job of keeping his opponent on the outside. In fights where Struve has particularly large height and reach advantages, it can still give opponents problems. In this fight in particular, Stipe Miocic should be tall enough that he has a clear advantage in the striking game. Miocic is a good athlete for the heavyweight division, and possesses a strong striking arsenal, with particularly good leg kicks. He also tends to have porous striking defense, and eats more strikes than he should, but thus far, has shown a fantastic chin. Meanwhile, Struve has been folded by his opponents’ strikes at times. In a striking match, I would expect strikes to go both ways, but Miocic has a much better chance of winning by knockout than Struve does. In a five-round fight, I don’t see Struve going the distance before Miocic knocks him unconscious.
Wrestling: Miocic has a terrific wrestling background, which should be more than enough to prevent the tall, lanky Struve from taking him down. Struve generally needs help getting fights to the ground anyway, and was compelled to pull guard against Lavar Johnson. A guard pull might not be the worst idea against Miocic, whose ground game is largely untested, but Miocic has such a strong base that he might be able to shut down even guard pull attempts from Struve. I’ll be surprised if Struve succeeds in getting this fight to the ground for significant lengths of time.
Submissions: Struve has a very good guard, and a lot of career wins by triangle choke on his record. It’s to be expected: how many heavyweights train with somebody tall enough to play center in the NBA? I think Struve will struggle to get the fight to the ground, but if he succeeds, his sheer length could be very tricky for Miocic to deal with. Miocic’s ground game in general is a mystery. He did a great job with ground and pound against Shane del Rosario in his last fight, but del Rosario is nobody’s idea of a submissions expert (although del Rosario does have a submission win due to omoplata on his record… *boggle*). Ultimately, there just isn’t much video out there to get a good grasp of Miocic’s ground game. For now, I’ll say that Struve has the overall advantage on the ground with submission attacks, but that’s an educated guess.
Prediction: Stipe Miocic by TKO. Miocic has real fight-ending power, and Struve does not have a chin capable of taking the kind of abuse Miocic can dish out for five rounds. What makes matters worse is Struve’s inability to wrestle. If Struve was a threat to take Miocic down, the dynamics of this fight would be much different, but in my mind, the only way Struve gets this to the ground is if Miocic takes it there. It’s a bad match for Struve. I see Miocic getting the TKO stoppage, and moving on to face a top five opponent, where his poor striking defense will probably be his undoing.