Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Stefan Struve will desperately chase a victory this Saturday (Dec. 13, 2014) at UFC on FOX 13 inside the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Since having some issues with drug tests back in 2012, Overeem has yet to put on a truly impressive display inside the Octagon. He's lone victory came in the form of a dreadful decision over an elderly Frank Mir, which is surrounded by three knockout losses. Even without considering his hefty salary, this is a must-win situation for the "Demolition Man."
Though Struve's UFC tenure is a bit more stable, health issues have been plaguing him as of late. He hasn't been able to fight in well over a year and a half, as he recently fainted in his scheduled return bout against Matt Mitrione.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each man.
Record: 37-14 (1)
Key Wins: Brock Lesnar (UFC 141), Frank Mir (UFC 169), Fabricio Werdum (Strikeforce: Overeem vs Werdum)
Key Losses: Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 50), Travis Browne (UFC Fight Night 26), Antonio Silva (UFC 156)
Keys to Victory: Overeem is perhaps the most dynamic glass cannon in the sport. He may be a mess defensively, but the muscled heavyweight is also capable of brutalizing his opponent with kicks and knees.
There's also some serious jiu-jitsu skills hidden by his brawn, as evidenced by Overeem's 19 submission victories.
In this fight, Overeem should look to grapple with Stefan Struve. According to Fightmetric, the lanky Dutchman's takedown defense percentage currently sits at a fairly terrible 33 percent, and it's not like he's been fighting the division's premiere wrestlers.
With that in mind, Overeem shouldn't have much trouble forcing his way into the clinch and manhandling Struve from there. Once on the mat, Overeem should be mindful of his opponent's submissions, but he's still the superior grappler.
Plus, some heavy strikes will go a long way in nullifying Struve's guard.
By grappling with his opponent, Overeem can likely dominate his opponent while remaining safe from another knockout. At this point, that's really what "The Reem" needs for his career.
Key Wins: Stipe Miocic (UFC on Fuel 5), Pat Barry (UFC on Versus 6)
Key Losses: Mark Hunt (UFC on Fuel 8), Travis Browne (UFC 130), Roy Nelson (UFC Fight Night 21)
Keys to Victory: Struve is the tallest fighter on the roster, standing at seven feet tall. Though he often fails to fully utilize his length striking, "Skyscraper" still punches with power and his submission grappling attack is one of the better in heavyweight in mixed martial arts (MMA).
For the first time in a long time, Struve is not the more fragile fighter. Struve may get hit far too easily for a man of his size, but he recovers fairly well and is tough enough to come back if he doesn't get put out completely.
The same cannot be said for his opponent.
In all likelihood, Overeem will look to grapple in this fight, just as he did with Frank Mir. Knowing this, Struve should be prepared to pierce the big man's guard with long, straight punches as he looks to close the distance.
In a fight where the first man to land hard likely wins, the fight with a massive reach advantage should have an advantage. If Struve attacks from far out, then he'll be able to do damage or potentially finish Overeem before "The Demolition Man" can get into his game plan.
Bottom Line: This fight is vital for the careers of both men.
Overeem has to prove that he isn't a complete bust. His win over Lesnar was made largely meaningless since the professional wrestler retired from MMA immediately after. Then, he failed a drug test and lost the majority of his fights since.
At this point, there's almost no chance that Overeem ever contends for the UFC title. But, he can still prove that he belongs in the promotion.
For Struve, he just needs to show that he still has it. Between his heart issues, layoff, and panic attack, there isn't a lot of confidence left in the young heavyweight. If Struve performs well -- win or lose -- and looks healthy, then fight fans would most certainly be pleased to have "Skyscraper" back, as he's always good for an entertaining scrap.
At UFC on FOX 13, Alistair Overeem and Stefan Struve will battle for their position in the UFC. Which man will secure the victory?