Prior to even stepping into the cage on Saturday for his main-event five-rounder against Stipe Miocic, we learned that the 24-year-old Struve was still growing — by half an inch, to be precise, since the last time he fought — and now stands an even 7 feet.
He grew even more in stature Saturday with his knockout win of the previously unbeaten Miocic.
How’s that for being a Skyscraper?
In the first three years of his UFC career, the tall man seemed to come up short in the big fights, losing to Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Travis Browne. But he has now won four straight for the first time since joining the UFC. All four were finishes, and none more impressive than Saturday’s against the highly regarded and heavy-handed Miocic.
Struve felt him out in the first round but then took control in the second and went for the kill, using his height advantage quite effectively as Miocic could never quite get in his range.
“That was part of the gameplan,” Struve said. “I saw he really slowed down in the second round and I caught him with an uppercut.
“I always go for the finish, so you know if you’re rocked I’m going for the kill. I heard some complaints about my power in the past. I think they might rethink that now.”
If you believe Struve, according to UFC president Dana White, the win moved him into the top five of the heavyweight division. It’s getting pretty hard to argue that.
The Outlaw from Nottingham insisted he would never lose in front of his home crowd. He made good on that promise Saturday.
Facing a tough opponent in Amir Sadollah, the 30-year-old put on perhaps his best performance of his career, outworking and outpointing a tough opponent in Sadollah. After a four-fight losing streak put him on the brink of release from the UFC, his knockout win over Duane Ludwig in May to stem the tide was nice. This decision win was an even better indication that the former No. 1 welterweight contender was truly back.
He looked much more well-rounded than he ever has, landing a couple of takedowns and really working some nice elbows in his ground and pound to go with some strong clinch work. I’m not sure he’ll be back in title contention any time soon, but if the man previously known mostly for his striking keeps improving his game at this rate, you never know.
“I like a war as much as you guys, but I gotta be smart, I gotta be sensible and I gotta pick my shots,” said Hardy, who added that doing it for his home fans was extra sweet.
“I’ve always dreamed of fighting here for the UFC. I’m just so blessed and happy you could come out here and support me tonight,” he added. “Only bringing the belt back would be better.”
There was a lot of pressure on the Englishman Saturday. Nevermind fighting at home, when you’ve got the nickname “One Punch” it’s tough when you haven’t scored a knockout in over four years, and none yet in the UFC.
He has looked fairly impressive in his 4-2 run in the UFC/WEC, but he made a statement Saturday against Montreal’s Yves Jabouin, who had been undefeated in three fights since dropping to bantamweight.
In a fight where both fighters were pouring it on, Jabouin started to look very comfortable. That is, until Pickett landed a textbook advancing uppercut to put Jabouin down. Afterward, Pickett was excited, yet still complimentary of the Canadian.
“To get a knockout against, to be honest, technically the best striker in our division, my hats off to him,” Pickett said.
The 33-year-old said he wanted to fight someone ranked higher than him next. That’s the only way to the top.
Wiman has been around for a long time for a 29-year-old. Entering Saturday, he already had 12 fights under his belt dating back to 2006. But he was considered a bit of a journeyman, perhaps being overlooked as he was fed to the rising unbeaten Paul Sass who was looking to celebrate a home win to add to his hype.
The American had other plans, upsetting Sass and doing it at the Englishman’s own game, submitting him with an impressive armbar.
He was pumped after the victory, racing to the cage to exclaim as he looked in the direction of White. Moments later, he was teary eyed.
“I feel so humbled,” Wiman said. “I don’t know, maybe because it was a year off, or I expected so much from myself. I felt so many nerves before the fight. I feel lucky and blessed to win.”
Wiman is now 9-4 in the UFC, but two of his losses were controversial — against Sam Stout, who may have gotten a hometown decision at UFC 97 in 2009, and then against Dennis Siver in July 2011. Wiman may find himself a top contender if he continues to step up like he did Saturday.