Stefan Struve was beginning to rise through the UFC heavyweight ranks again.
Instead, Travis Browne brought him crashing back down to Earth with one of the nastiest superman punches in UFC history during the main card of UFC 130 last night (May 28, 2011).
It was another disappointing finish for one of the UFC's youngest and most recognizable prospects.
As much as the fans seem to love Struve, his striking defense and chin continue to betray him against the most powerful men in the division.
So, after all that training and preparation, what gave "Hapa" the opening to demolish "The Skycraper?"
We'll set up the fascinating finish after the jump.
Both Struve and Browne looked in great shape and light on their feet from the start.
The Dutch fighter was showcasing his improving striking technique and defense early, instinctually checking Browne's leg kicks as well as using his footwork to avoid the big power punches from "Hapa." Struve also showcased some powerful push kicks as well as leg and body kicks but his punches left something to be desired.
Stefan was given a chance to flaunt his excellent ground game with a slick trip of the Alliance fighter that he transitioned directly into a D'arce choke and anaconda choke attempt.
When Browne escaped, he tagged Struve with a nice combination as "The Skyscraper" was backing up and it set up the highlight-reel finish.
Struve leapt forward with a flying knee attempt and left his chin exposed. While the nearly seven foot tall fighter was in mid-air, Browne timed him perfectly with a lunging superman punch that landed flush and sent Struve awkwardly crashing to the canvas. The fight was quickly stopped after two nasty hammer-fists on the ground.
For Stefan Struve, his bad tendencies cost him again in a fight he was arguably winning. He showcased improved striking defense and some powerful kicks but his willingness to brawl and throw flashy strikes like a flying knee were what resulted in him losing consciousness. Until he leapt forward chin-first, he was actually doing a pretty decent job of avoiding Browne's power. He just needs it drilled into his head to quit throwing the flying knee. You think he would have learned from the last time against Paul Buentello.
Stefan also needs to continue to put time in on learning to use his range. Brawling may excite the fans, but it gets him too close to his opponent that that's simply unacceptable when he's got the longest reach in the heavyweight division. He must add the jab to his arsenal if he wants to be effective and ever have an opportunity to reach the top of the division someday. He'll likely be thrown a mid-level heavyweight that doesn't have as much knockout power in his next fight, a chance to redeem himself and continue to develop.
Travis Browne did what many thought he would do, clean Struve's clock if he connected hard with a big punch. He's still got a lot of questions going forward, but it was a solid showing from "Hapa." He showed up in great shape for this fight and he gave fans the type of finish that has Dana White salivating.
Expect another mid to upper-level opponent for the Alliance fighter in his next showing, perhaps someone like Ben Rothwell or Mike Russow.
What did you think of both fighters' performances last night? What does each man have to do to take it to the next level?
Sound off, Maniacs!