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UFC Fight Night 145 card: Stefan Struve vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight finishers Stefan Struve and Marcos Rogerio de Lima will square off this Saturday (Feb. 23, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 145 from inside 02 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

Stefan Struve’s career is frustrating. His fights are frustrating. His inability to jab is beyond frustrating. Despite seeming to somewhat turn a corner in 2016 and capitalize on his famous length at least a little bit, Struve has lost his previous three fights in fairly tepid matches. Never in a million years would anyone describe de Lima as tepid or hesitant. “Pezao” charges at opponents and attempts to maul them, rarely seeing the judges’ scorecards in victory nor defeat.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Stefan Struve

Record: 28-11
Key Wins: Stipe Miocic (UFC on FUEL TV 5), Daniel Omielanczuk (UFC 204), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 190), Antonio Silva (UFC Fight Night 87)
Key Losses: Alexander Volkov (UFC Fight Night 115), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 134), Alistair Overeem (UFC on FOX 13), Mark Hunt (UFC on Fuel TV 8), Travis Browne (UFC 130)
Keys to Victory: Struve has been on the roster for a decade now, which is a remarkable achievement. Even without making full use of his reach, Struve does kick plenty hard and has knockout power in his hands. Plus, 17 submission victories is another impressive statistic. Struve’s problems tend to be defensive, as “Skyscraper” routinely fails to block punches or deny takedowns.

Where does that leave him against a bruiser who heaves haymakers and runs through double legs? Most likely, he’ll be in need of a rally after losing at least the first round. There is also the risk that de Lima knocks him out early, but Struve has generally been tougher to finish in recent years.

In short, Struve has to win this fight by capitalizing late when de Lima tires. If I were in complete charge of Struve’s camp, I’d have the Dutchman do nothing but throwing his teep kicks to start. Struve’s kicks up the middle are legitimately powerful, attack the body, and are difficult to convert into takedowns. He needs to use them more often, especially since we can throw away the idea of him ever making proper use of the jab.

If Struve is jamming kicks in the belly, de Lima will have a more difficult and tiresome time advancing. As his foe slows, Struve can expand his arsenal more to round kicks and power punches. For all his faults, Struve has also always been quite good at catching a submission when a fatigued opponent tries to take him down.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Record: 16-5-1
Key Wins: Adam Wieczorek (UFC 230), Igor Pokrajac (UFC Fight Night 58), Clint Hester (UFC 197), Jeremy Kimball (UFC on FOX 23)
Key Losses: Ovince Saint Preux (UFC Fight Night 108), Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 74), Gadzhimurad Antigulov (UFC Fight Night 100)
Keys to Victory: De Lima is all about aggression and physicality. The Brazilian is a big man with serious weight behind his punches, strikes he throws with the intention of decapitating opponents. In addition, de Lima’s physicality means he’s often able to throw foes to the mat from the clinch or score a double along the fence.

The key to victory for de Lima in this bout is avoiding total fatigue. So long as he is not dying for breath, de Lima should be able to land the heavier shots or throw Struve onto his back to great success.

In Struve’s last two fights, a new strategy was developed for defeating the Dutchman. Andrei Arlovski and Marcin Tybura did not do a whole lot on the feet opposite Struve. They picked their shots and mostly conserved energy, allowing them to wrestle Struve to the mat without emptying the tank. Struve is easy to takedown, and his guard submissions tend to only work against fatigued sloppiness.

The safest approach for de Lima would be to follow that boring, but highly successful, strategy.

Bottom Line: I don’t want to lie to y’all, this is probably going to be awful, and it doesn’t really affect the division in any meaningful way.

This bout does have significant consequences for Stefan Struve, though. “Skyscraper” has lost three fights, which would generally mean this is a must-win fight for the veteran. Heavyweight’s lack of depth means Struve may stick around even with another defeat, but the long-time UFC fighter will have never been closer to the edge of the cutting board.

Meanwhile, a win buys him some much-needed job security.

De Lima is technically 2-0 at Heavyweight, but judging from his skill set and results at 205 pounds, it’s clear that de Lima’s ceiling is that of mid-tier action fighter. Perhaps a win over Struve — whose name is still known, evidenced by this co-main event slot — would grant de Lima a larger opportunity next, but in general it seems little is likely to change about de Lima’s position.

At UFC Fight Night 145, Stefan Struve and Marcos Rogerio de Lima will battle in the co-main event. Which Heavyweight will see his hand raised?

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