Lost in all the hoopla that's the UFC 193 pay-per-view (PPV) blockbuster is a little-known Heavyweight collision featuring veteran Stefan Struve (26-7) taking on rising All-American wrestler Jared Rosholt (13-2).
"The Big Show" is on the cusp of attaining a position in the Top 15 of the Heavyweight rankings if he can thwart "The Skyscraper" inside Etihad Stadium this Saturday night (Nov. 14, 2015) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Rosholt, 29, is coming off of back-to-back wins over Josh Copeland and Timothy Johnson.
The Team Takedown representative took some time out of his training schedule to discuss facing a fighter as tall as Struve, adding to his tool belt, how he almost became a WWE wrestler, Johny Hendricks and more with MMAmania.com.
Let's talk about how this bout came to fruition. Was this a fight you were interested in?
JR: Yeah, it was. After [Timothy] Johnson, I was kinda -- after I beat Soa Palelei last year and he was the 14th-ranked guy, I was thinking that they'd maybe give me a name that was ranked a little bit higher and then they didn't. I just kept getting newer guys. After Johnson, I was hoping they'd give me a name so I'm just throwing names out there like Bigfoot [Antonio Silva], Struve and everybody was just matched up at the time, except for Struve. I was like, 'Hey, we need to ask for this fight.' We kept asking and asking and pretty soon, they called me up -- I had a ton of missed calls. I called them back and they said, 'You're fighting Struve in Melbourne, Australia Nov. 14th.'
What does Stefan bring to the table that you haven't seen before?
JR: [laughs] His height is definitely something I haven't seen before and I probably never will again. He's got that long reach and stuff and the height. He's a pretty dangerous fighter. He's got a lot of length on him and he also has submissions on the ground. He's got finishes. If you look at Struve's resume, he's fought a ton of people. He's beaten some big name guys and he's been in good fights with big name guys. He was in that fight with Mark Hunt there until the end. He beat [Stipe] Miocic. That's a good one to have on his resume.
Have you honed in on one particular weakness in his game, any moments there in his fights where you go, 'Hey, I could capitalize on this?'
JR: Yeah, I see quite a few when I watch his fights. I don't see much of a takedown defense. With his height, it's much easier to get underneath somebody like him and get to his legs or waist and get him down. So I see that and that's just more of, I don't think it's so much that his technique is off. It's just the way that he's built and it's a disadvantage as far as takedown defense goes.
Struve likes to pull guard and has a notable jiu-jitsu game. Have you made special preparations, rolled with any new training partners and are you concerned with going to the ground?
JR: You've got to respect his length and size. It's a different feel from the bottom. My main training partner -- he's a black belt and 6'5." He's not even close to being as long-limbed as Struve. We had a guy come in for this camp, who just went home this week, and he was 6'11." He was a much different feel than my 6'5" training partner. It definitely makes a big difference. You definitely have to watch for those guys. It doesn't feel the same as the guys who are a little more compact.
With him being so tall, I think it's going to be easier to get to his legs and waist and get around him. I don't know how well a trip would work with him. Watching some of his last fights -- this last one with [Rodrigo] Nogueira, he had his hands locked around his waist multiple times and that was a mental note I took. I don't think his height makes a problem at all for takedowns, if anything it's a disadvantage.
Have you felt the necessity to add to your tool belt and work on striking?
JR: I'm working all the time on the striking and stuff. Just what I've heard from other people, and people I've fought, one day it just clicks and makes sense to you. Sometimes I think that I'm figuring it out and other times I don't. When I'm in the gym and training this stuff, I stand up and strike and do great all the time. Me being a little bit -- I'm not necessarily short, but I'm not tall for the heavyweight division. I guess I'd be on the average side for height and reach. You just have to learn how to use those to your advantage and that comes with comfort level in the ring too. The more big fights I have, the more experience I'll get and more comfortable I'll be with it.
In this current UFC era, how confident are you that you can attain a title shot and climb the ranks using a wrestling-heavy approach?
JR: I'm confident I could make it up the ranks with it. I'm very confident in that with what I've got right now. I don't necessarily think it would get me all the way to the top. You have to keep getting better and be well-rounded against all of these guys that are good everywhere too. I think you have to keep evolving. I feel like I'm young to this division and I'm young in this sport so I'm constantly learning and trying to get better. I guess whenever I quit trying to get better and quit trying to learn, if I'm not at the top by then [laughs], I might start thinking about a different career.
Maybe your future is in commentating. I see you played football. Did you play in college?
JR: No, I just wrestled in college. I wish, I really wish, that I had taken a year and tried to play both sports. At the time, I was just interested in the wrestling part of things. Looking back now, man, I wish I had given football a shot, too.
What was the first UFC fight you watched?
JR: My first one that I ever watched; I was in Reno, Nevada doing a -- we were doing a wrestling camp for high school kids and me and my brother and some of the other wrestlers went to one of the casinos and we sat down at one of the sports bars and it was Tim Sylvia and Randy Couture fighting and Couture beat Sylvia. That was the first UFC fight I actually watched.
I see from your UFC profile that you're a big Hulk Hogan fan. Do you still keep up with professional wrestling?
JR: I grew up watching WCW and then WWF. I was a huge Hulk Hogan and NWO fan. Those are my guys -- Lex Luger back in the day. I was just a huge Hulk Hogan fan. I don't watch it much anymore. It was something I was interested in after college as well ... maybe interested in taking that route. In the end, it was just kind of that and the fighting. The fighting just seemed more family friendly I guess. Obviously, not the way it's done, but as far as being home and having a family life.
When I first got out of college they had a recruiting guy from WWE or whatever it was at the time, he came and invited me to a training camp down in Tampa Bay, Florida. I went down to that for a week and worked out. They kind of went through all the basic stuff and talked to us. It was me and four or five other guys that they recruited down there. We went through the camp and one of the guys that was a trainer there came up and told us, 'if you do this kind of job, you're on the road 365 days a year.' I just had my kid and stuff. It was just kind of, 'I don't know if I'm really interested in living that kind of life.' Then I met with Team Takedown and they talked to me about the UFC and getting into pro fighting. It just seemed like a better fit for a family life.
Have you been in touch with Johny Hendricks?
JR: Johny seems to be doing alright. I've seen him up there at the gym a few times since the whole incident happened. He actually came in one day to wrestle with us ... the bigger guys. I saw him up there today and he seems to be in decent spirits.
What were your thoughts on the Ben Rothwell situation and UFC's decision to slot his original opponent Stipe Miocic opposite Andrei Arlovski in January?
JR: I felt bad for Rothwell the way that whole thing worked out with Miocic. I was really looking forward to watching that fight because I thought it was very interesting. Rothwell is a very big heavyweight. He's a little bit awkward and Miocic is a little smaller, probably more faster and technical. I thought it was going to be a really good matchup. I was a little disappointed whenever it got nixed. I think they matched up Arlovski and Miocic when Ben was in Dublin seeing the fans and watching the fights. It sucks because he was trying to get anybody to step up and take that fight and it was one of those times where I don't know if he would've wanted it because I'm not ranked near as high as him, but if I wasn't matched up with a fight so soon I definitely would've offered to go over there and fill in no problem.
It was a crappy deal. I'm focused on Struve right now, but Rothwell is on the way to where I want to get to. I've been thinking about Mark Hunt and Bigfoot too, who are on the same card as us. We kind of have a four-man tournament going on here; match up the winners and losers and match up something afterward.
Are you a fan of tournaments?
JR: I don't mind it so much. It's kind of disappointing like the way it happened at that last Bellator with King Mo [Muhammed Lawal] and Phil Davis. That's the problem with having fights the same night and I was really looking forward to seeing that match up. Muhammed getting hurt ... it was just disappointing. Other than that, I don't have a problem with the bracket style. I don't know about having it all on the same night though.
Any closing thoughts on how camp has been going and the matchup versus Struve?
JR: Camp has been going good. This is one of the fews camps I've had where I've been relatively healthy. People say they go into fights hurt all the time. Well I can tell from my personal experience that it's true. Almost every fight I've gone into, there's always something that's off or hurt and you're trying to cover it up the best you can and work around it. This has been one of my better ones. I'm feeling ready to go. I'm starting to taper off and getting ready to peak for Melbourne.
For the complete UFC 193: "Rousey vs. Holm" fight card and live results, including play-by-play updates, click here and here. For my original article on Jared click here.