Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight veterans Stefan Struve and Jared Rosholt will collide this Saturday (Nov. 14, 2015) at UFC 193 inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Struve's career trajectory has certainly been a strange one, as the young (relatively) scrapper's career has been irreparably altered by injury and health problems. Nonetheless, "Skyscraper" plows forward, as he looks to build the start of a new win streak.
For a fighter with a 5-1 record inside the Octagon, Rosholt has been incredibly underwhelming. If Rosholt ever wants to make use of his potential and climb into the rankings, he needs to perform here.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:
Key Wins: Stipe Miocic (UFC on Fuel 5), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 190), Pat Barry (UFC on Versus 6)
Key Losses: Alistair Overeem (UFC on FOX 13), Mark Hunt (UFC on Fuel 8), Travis Browne (UFC 130)
Keys to Victory: Though Struve has always been known as a kickboxer, a majority of his victories have come via submission. Grappling has long been the lanky Dutchman's strength, as his submission prowess allowed him to pull off some incredible comeback victories.
Unfortunately, Struve's fatal flaw has long been just how hittable he is. After all, those comebacks wouldn't be necessary if Struve could avoid getting his face pounded in early on.
Luckily, Rosholt is not much of a threat to Struve's surgically repaired jaw. Since Rosholt will instead be looking to dump Struve on his back -- a position Struve is rather comfortable in -- this is another fight where Struve absolutely should capitalize on his reach advantage.
As most fans know, fully utilizing his range has always been a struggle for Struve. He did, however, show some serious improvements to that aspect of his game in his last bout, which will definitely help him out against the All-American wrestler.
If Struve punishes Rosholt's attempts to close the distance with long range shots and makes him work while on the mat, Rosholt will gas before long. Then, Struve is in perfect position to score with one of his late fight finishes.
Key Wins: Soa Palelei (UFC Fight Night 43), Timothy Johnson (UFC Fight Night 73), Josh Copeland (UFC 185)
Key Losses: Alexey Oleinik (UFC Fight Night 57)
Keys to Victory: An extremely decorated collegiate wrestler, Rosholt may not be flashy, but he's been successful. Though he's often hesitant to throw his hands, Rosholt does have decent power as well.
If Rosholt looks to employ his usual method of fighting -- forcing the takedown and merely controlling from top position -- then this is likely going to be a very difficult fight for him. Struve has taken some tough losses in his career, but none of them involved being held down for long periods of time.
Simply put, Struve is too active from his back and is the better conditioned fighter. If Rosholt continually forces a grappling match, he's more likely to get caught than ride out a decision victory.
Instead, Rosholt should put some faith in his own power. Struve has been knocked silly several times, and Rosholt certainly packs power. Considering how easy most fighters -- even the barely functioning Nogueira -- touched Struve's chin, Rosholt shouldn't have a problem.
Plus, Struve has recently shown a tendency to shell up when faced with big power. If Rosholt can hurt him early, he may be able to shake his opponent's confidence and put him on the defensive.
Bottom Line: This is an important fight for the Heavyweight division, simply because the weight class has so few fighters with any talent under the age of 30.
At this point, Struve's footing in UFC is still shaky. Considering his recent health issues, there are plenty of reasons to question whether Struve should even be fighting at all. If Struve looks hesitant in a loss -- or worse, gets knocked out -- he'll be in a very uncomfortable position.
On the other hand, victory helps solidify Struve's ranking and job security. Rosholt may be flawed, but he's definitely a solid heavyweight and a worthy test of where "The Skyscraper" currently stands.
This is a pretty big opportunity for Rosholt. He's put together a strong (if uninspiring) run so far, and a win over a well-known fighter like Struve could propel him into the Top 15 and land him a high-profile match up.
Alternatively, a loss still shows how much growing Rosholt still has to do. He's young enough that it's not a major problem, as Rosholt simply would need more time.
At UFC 193, Stefan Struve and Jared Rosholt will open the main card in a heavyweight bout. Which fighter will have his hand raised?