Welcome to the latest edition of MMADiehards’ “Throwdown Lowdown.” Each week, one of our writers breaks down the mechanics of a pro MMA match and shows fight fans what it all means. Today’s column examines the heavyweight havoc that took place between Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic during UFC on Fuel TV 5′s main event.
Who: Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve vs. Stipe Miocic
What: UFC heavyweight main event
Where: UFC on Fuel TV 5 at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England
When: Last Saturday (Saturday, Sept. 29)
Why: The UFC made this fight to see which of two promising heavyweights had what it takes for the next level. Both men entered the Octagon on solid win streaks, making their clash extremely meaningful. Whoever emerged victorious ensured themselves a spot in their division’s upper echelons.
The good: Two heavyweights hungry for success guarantee fireworks almost every fight. Last Saturday was no exception, and Struve vs. Miocic delivered a back-and-forth battle of wills.
Two short rounds was all it took for both men to display their vastly different striking styles. A former Golden Gloves boxer, Miocic threw a wide array of combos against “The Skyscraper.” Hurling his hands high, low and everywhere in-between, he made sure Struve was aching all over Sunday morning.
Struve, in contrast, utilized his kickboxing background for keeping Miocic at bay. Every time the Croatian-American tried closing the distance, Struve would send him back with long-limbed jabs or high kicks. Often criticized for ignoring his potential range, “The Skyscraper” sent those doubts packing with his graceful technique during Saturday’s tilt.
The bad: In an interesting twist, Struve’s dreaded ground game kept the fight standing. It nullified Miocic’s NCAA Division I wrestling, a weapon he often employs with great results. Trying for takedowns twice, he gave up each one after Struve threatened to snare him in submission holds.
“The Skyscraper,” for his part, stuck out his chin one too many times for an opponent with power punching like Miocic’s. This lack of range gave Struve scares, at times opening him to body shots and chin checks he didn’t have to take. It’s a course he eventually corrected, but not without some close calls first.
The ugly: It might have been a short skirmish, but each man performed some sickening moves during their fight.
Miocic, for starters, made his punches count. The Ohioan threw crisp, cringe-inducing shots that pulverized Struve’s ribs and liver. Hitting so hard they were audible, fight fans heard cracks and thuds every time he swung for the fences.
Struve more than made up for it by brutally knocking Miocic unconscious. Possessing a granite chin, Miocic made his face target practice for Struve’s bombs. He didn’t go quietly, and the resulting beatdown is one of 2012′s nastiest TKOs thus far.
The end result: Backing his foe into the cage, Struve shot a straight right into Miocic’s face. “The Skyscraper” didn’t stop there, following up with another straight right and a flurry of uppercuts. Ever the glutton for punishment, Miocic wouldn’t quit even as the strike tally multiplied. Ending up against the chain-links, he was out on his feet by the time the bell rang.
What it all means: The outcome of UFC on Fuel TV 5′s “Fight of the Night” predicts very different futures for both men.
For Miocic, last Saturday’s loss marks the end of his perfect record. Tasting defeat for the first time affects different warriors in different ways. How Miocic handles such misfortune will determine how much impact he makes in the heavyweight division from now on.
For Struve, his latest ‘W’ represents his fourth finish over four fights. It’s an impressive stat, and one that sees “The Skyscraper” entering discussions about the division’s top ten fighters for the first time. The UFC will test that theory with an elite opponent for Struve’s next match. Given the Dutchman has already called out Fabricio Werdum, look for that war next on the horizon.
Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he serves as a digital editor for the Washington Times’ Times247.com in Washington D.C.