Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Stefan Struve and Andrei Arlovski dueled last night (March 3, 2018) at UFC 222 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Struve has never been the most consistent Heavyweight, but he’s generally looked sharper and slightly better defensively in the last couple years. He lost his last fight to a top contender but was not outclassed, giving Struve fans some hope that he could jump back into the mix with a win here.
Last time out, Arlovski scored a desperately needed decision win, one that snapped a five-fight losing streak and warded off retirement calls a bit. However, to fully prove that he could still compete at this level, a second win would be rather helpful.
The fighters opened up by trading kicks, with Arlovski landing the harder low kicks early. After landing a big right hand, Arlovski moved into the clinch and scored a takedown into half guard. However, “The Pitbull” wanted no part of his foe’s grappling, letting him back up almost immediately.
Back on the feet, Struve landed some decent shots before being briefly put on his back again. Arlovski played the fight safely, picking low kicks and clinching up whenever Struve was too aggressive in pushing forward.
Arlovski’s willingness to clinch with the giant was a bit risky, but otherwise he fought a pretty perfect opening round.
A couple more low kicks lead to another takedown from Arlovski, but this time Struve as able to wrap up a straight foot lock attempt. He wasn’t able to submit the Belarusian Sambo fighter with a foot lock, but Struve did gain top position in the ensuing scramble.
Struve was able to do some damage, but a helpful fence grab allowed Arlovski to get back to his feet and stay there. Both men were a bit spent, resulting in a lot of uneventful clinch work.
Overall, nearly nothing happened in the second outside of Struve’s top position, so perhaps it was tied heading into the third?
Struve dug a couple hard low kicks into his foe to start the third, and he tagged Arlovski with a right as well. Advancing behind kicks, Struve did a better job of landing in the first half of the third. His legs are simply massive, which made avoiding all of the leg a difficult task for Arlovski.
Arlovski scored with a couple flurries and drove Struve into the fence, but it didn’t result in much. Arlovski scored with a couple big right hands, but Struve was winning the volume battle. However, Arlovski made it even closer with a takedown in the final minute of the round.
You could make an argument for either fighter winning, but the better question after that 15 minute display was who really cares?
Ultimately, the judges awarded the victory to Andrei Arlovski.
This was a pretty awful fight by most standards, but Arlovski deserves credit for employing a smart game plan. He attacked Struve’s legs very well, a weapon that fans have been asking Arlovski to rely on more often for years. In addition, Arlovski scored more takedowns in this bout than in the last 10 years, which helped keep him conscience and swayed the judges to his side.
I don’t want to think about what it implies regarding the rest of the division, but Arlovski is on a two-fight win streak, so more power to him.
As for Struve, he just doesn’t really have a game plan ever. Struve has no boxing game to speak of, and his defense is too poor to risk brawling anymore. When he actually commits to just trying to kick the hell out of people, he tends to find some success, but that’s part of a successful plan, not the entire thing.
Struve is way too deep into his career to not understand exactly what his avenue to victory is, which is part of why it’s so frustrating to watch him lose.
At UFC 222, Andrei Arlovski landed the better shots across 15 minutes to win a decision. What’s next for the former champion?
For complete UFC 222: “Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!