A fight not many UFC fans are talking about is Struve vs. Volkov – with all the hype surrounding the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight and the return of George St Pierre, but this fight could be a classic.
Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve stands at 7-feet tall and is one of the most polarising figures in the UFC. Fighting in front of his home fans in Netherlands this September 2 at UFC Fight Night, Struve plans to regain his momentum in the heavyweight division.
Struve comes up against relative newcomer to the UFC, Alexander Volkov, who brings in a record of 28-6 and a couple of UFC victories. The bookmakers are having a hard time splitting these two fighters – with the edge going to Volkov, but Struve will be out to make headlines in his home nation.
Stefan Struve form
Struve has lost a total of six times since entering the UFC in 2009, but the big Dutchman has beaten some classy fighters along the way.
Struve bounced back from his loss to Jared Rosholt at UFC 193 by beating Antonio Silva with a knockout (elbows) before beating Daniel Omielanczuk with a D’Arce choke.
For a big fighter, Struve has shown that he has ability both standing and on the mat. He defeated the talented Lavar Johnson via armbar and that earned him a Submission of the Night award at UFC 146. The concern for Struve is his ability to take multiple punches. He has been knocked out or TKO’d by Alistar Overeem, Mark Hunt, Travis Browne, Roy Nelson and Junior dos Santos since arriving in the UFC, so he needs to cover up a little better.
Struve is recovering from a shoulder injury which saw him pull out of his rematch fight against Junior dos Santos at UFC Fight Night 105, but that was in February and he has had plenty of time to work on his game. Ladbrokes has Struve as the 11/10 underdog despite fighting at home and we’re predicting to see those odds lower as the fight draws closer.
Alexander Volkov form
Having had only two fights in the UFC could count against Volkov, but he has defeated two of the best fighters in the heavyweight division.
The Russian scored his first UFC win against Timothy Johnson in November, 2016, and that was a shock result for the division despite winning the M-1 Global Heavyweight Championship earlier that month.
Volkov would continue his fine run of form with a unanimous decision victory over Roy Nelson, but going the distance against Nelson isn’t always considered a victory. It’s either knock out or be knocked out against Big Country, so the relatively vanilla performance didn’t inspire many. When fighting in the Bellator league, Volkov was a knock out king with four wins coming by either punches or a head kick.
The 28-year-old is giving a little bit of height so landing a head kick could be tough, but Struve has been susceptible to punches before and that’s where Volkov can take advantage. Bookmakers have installed Volkov as the 8/11 favourite to upset Struve in Rotterdam.
Struve has been making headlines when talking about Brock Lesnar and he feels as though he’s already beaten the best the division has to offer.
“If I look at my division, I don’t care about the rankings,” Struve said. “If you look at the guys who are ranked above me, I feel I beat most of them and I already got a win over the champion.”
Struve believes he is the best fighter Volkov will face so far in his career, and it’s hard to disagree with that. “I feel that I’m the best fighter he has faced in his career so far,” he said. “And I’m planning to show that. “Some guys cannot reach his chin when he throws certain things, but I’ll be able to reach it.”
Fight betting tips
The odds around Stephan Struve are good value and we’re not going to pass up on them. Getting the home country hero at 11/10 is a good price from bookmakers and we believe he’s the far more accomplished fighter between the two. Volkov is finally facing a man who towers over him and that will stifle the talented Russian. If Struve stays within himself, he could finish this fight in the first couple of rounds.