Ultimate Submissions: The underrated grappling of Stefan Struve

Photo by Tracy Lee for Yahoo! Sports.

Alliteration aside, Stefan Struve's slick submission skills often get overlooked.

Of his 22 career wins, 15 have come by way of tap, nap or snap, and you can safely bet he will looking to add one more name to his long list of victims when he faces fellow heavyweight Dave Herman at UFC on Fuel TV next Wednesday night (Feb. 15, 2012) in Omaha.

Rightfully nicknamed "Skyscraper," the 6'11" Struve makes excellent use of his very long limbs, but not in the way you would normally expect.

Usually, someone so tall would be well advised to use their exceptionally long reach to keep his opponent at bay with jabs and kicks from a distance. Struve, on the other hand, uses his limbs to tangle opponents up in various submissions.

Lets take a look:

Prior to Sean McCorkle talking his way into the co-main event spot opposite Struve at UFC 124, "Skyscraper" was 4-2 in the UFC with two submissions. "Big Sexy" was 1-0, with an armbar finish over Mark Hunt. Struve would make rather quick work of his opponent, stopping McCorkle with punches in the first round. Check out the GIF below to see how the lanky Dutchman used his grappling prowess to earn the technical knockout (TKO) stoppage.

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Thanks to campizonemma.com for the GIF.

The clip starts with Struve on his back after McCorkle took him down, with his guard closed and an overhook on his opponent's left arm. Any student of the jiu-jitsu game can tell that Struve is setting up a sweep here. A rather easy sweep to execute, in theory, but much more difficult to execute in practice at the UFC level, mainly because once someone tries to set it up, the victim knows it's coming and can stop it.

Usually.

Struve uses his left arm to secure an overhook on McCorkle's left arm. Once Struve has it, he opens up his guard and uses his right leg to hook outside Sean McCorkle's left knee, effectively "blocking" that knee and nullifying McCorkle's ability to post out on that leg.

With his right arm overhooked and his right leg blocked by the leg of "Skyscraper," McCorkle is very weak on his right side. Posting on his right forearm and elbow, Struve "hips up" and thrusts his hips into "Big Sexy," forcing all of McCorkle's weight to his weakened right side. This allows Stefan to completely reverse Sean, and is the beginning of the end. Struve finishes the sweep by landing in full mount and immediately rains down punches. It's only a matter of seconds until the referee steps in and saves McCorkle. Grappling skill plus ground-and-pound equals UFC win number five for Skyscraper.

After Struve suffered a slight setback in the form of a knockout loss at the hands of Travis Browne, "Skyscraper" was pitted against Southern slugger Pat Barry for UFC on Versus 6: "Cruz vs Johnson." While the staredown at the weigh-ins was rather comical (Struve is 6'11" and Barry is 5'11"), the threat to both fighters was anything but.

This was one of those odd match-ups. The much shorter, much stockier fighter had a distinct advantage in the striking department and the much taller, longer fighter had a distinct advantage on the ground. Struve would end the fight using his length to his advantage, but not in the way you might think.

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Thanks to ZombieProphet and Ironforgesiron.com for the GIF.

The clip starts with Struve on his back and Barry on top in cross-side position. Barry has been criticized for his submission defense (or lack thereof) but in all honesty, who expects to be triangled when they have cross-mount?

The submission set-up starts as Struve is on his right hip, driving his right knee in between himself and Barry. As he does this, he also puts his left knee behind Pat's head and neck. Barry, unaware what is being set up, slips his right hand out from between Struve's legs, effectively helping Struve initiate the triangle. Reaching across his body and grabbing Barry's left tricep with his right hand, Struve slips his right knee completely through and hooks his right leg over his left ankle. With the triangle completely locked in, "Skysraper" now pushes "HD's" left arm across his face and pulls down on his head. With Stefan's left knee cutting off the blood flow through Barry's right carotid artery and Barry's own left arm restricting blood flow through the left, "Get Hype" is in lots of trouble.

Barry is pretty much out of options at this point, and he knows it. As a last-ditch effort, Barry picks Struve up and slams him to the ground, hoping it will break the hold Struve has on his neck. Unfortunately for Barry, this only makes the triangle choke tighter, and Barry is forced to tap out.

With the victory over Barry, Struve improves to 6-3 under the Zuffa banner. He undoubtedly plans on making it 7-3 when he climbs into the cage opposite "Pee Wee" next week in Omaha.

Who ya' got?

For more on their titanic tilt click here.


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