UFC 175 Breakdown: Stefan Struve vs. Matt Mitrione

Stefan Struve was assembling a nice package of victories against some of the lower to mid ranked heavyweight between his win over Pat Barry in October and his victory over Stipe Miocic in September 2012. Then he met the Samoan that defies normal Samoan physics, Mark Hunt, who shattered his streak along with a significant piece of his jaw. During his absence, Struve was also discovered to have an enlarged heart that left him unable to compete.

Mitrione, on the other hand, is an on again off again clobbering machine. He's kind of like The Thing, except that being a bulky rock monster probably makes The Thing a bit more tolerant towards transsexuals. Mitrione is a knockout or gets knocked out kind of fighter with only two of his ten fights going the distance.

By the Numbers

In fact, the Mitrione and Struve have a combined total of 41 fights with only 3 total going to a decision. If any fight on this card should end in a finish, it's this one. Which means it probably won't.

Mitrione has never been the most technical fighter, but what he lacks in finesse he presents in power and athleticism. I'm not even sure if he knows the difference between a rear naked choke and a Ronda Rousey, but he has a strong karate base, nice defense, and keeps his opponents off of him.

This last factor is crucial to his success, as Struve has a strange style for such a tall fighter. He has a 9 inch height advantage over Mitrione, but only a one inch reach advantage. Their output is about the same, averaging 3.5 significant strikes per minute combined, but Struve's defense has always been the source of his woes. On average, Struve eats almost twice as many shots while attempting to gain position on opponents as Mitrione, and while Mitrione stops 66% of the shots fired on him, Struve only blocks 48%. It's rare to see Stefan Struve win a fight without offering half of his crimson lifeforce to the gods that dwell beneath the mat. But once he gets hold of his opponent, he's usually successful in getting them to the ground and utilizing his freakishly long legs and powerful jiu-jitsu to sink in various chokes.

What's at Stake

Mitrione is pretty hit or miss in a fairly thin division. A solid win means a better opponent, but it's hard to find a sweet spot for him. When faced with solid top ten opponents, he's yet to deliver a convincing win, but he's also better than most of the people entering the decision. This is Struve's first fight back in over a year, so a loss won't be too devastating. A win won't put him in talks for a title, but it may set up something interesting in the future such as a bout against Barnett or Overeem.

Road to Victory

Struve uses leg kicks and jabs to keep at a distance and grind down his opponents. Once he has his opponent backing up, he's been shown to close the distance and work him against the cage. This is how he beat Stipe Miocic and was enjoying success against Mark Hunt as well before having his favorite steak chewing side of his mouth annihilated. He's also good at setting traps and not being afraid of taking a punch or two to get his opponent to charge recklessly into a triangle. Struve is good on his back, and Mitrione may have to go outside of his comfort level on his feet if he wants to put Struve away. Mitrione's best chance to wait Struve out and counterattack. Struve has been shown to be very reckless with his hands in the past, and patient opponents such as Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and Travis Browne have capitalized on this before.

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