A heavyweight bout no one asked for hopes to avoid depressing us this August 1, 2015 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Match Up
Heavyweight Stefan Struve -165 vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira +145
3 Things You Should Know
1. Big Nog's KO loss to Roy Nelson is very indicative of where he's at in his career. Don't be surprised if Struve toe tags him too.
I'll be perfectly honest. It sucks to have to preview this fight. Big Nog was MMA's early 21st century Rocky.
Balboa vs. Thunderlips his fight with Bob Sapp ain't.
Sapp was a veritable beast back then. The punishment he's taken throughout his career has clearly taken its toll on him. So yea, this fight sucks. I hate to preview this like it's a funeral, but is there a silver lining if Nog beats Struve? Not really. Nog would feel empowered, maybe even acknowledging that if Mir and Arlovski could be relevant "why can't I?", and that's not really a good thing. Still, on its own, it's a less cringe inducing matchup than say, Nog vs. Travis Browne or something.
2. Struve is winless in his last two, getting knocked out in both losses to Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. If there's a 27 year old alive who could actually rival Nog's decline, Struve is actually a good candidate.
Youth is mercurial in prizefighting. Struve may be young, but he's at a point on his career where youth no longer guarantees durability. Granted, he's been knocked out by some of the hardest punchers in the division. But this shouldn't be a caveat. Getting knocked out is usually just a proxy for bad defense. Before you know it, opponents don't need power. They just need accuracy.
Struve isn't washed up or anything, so don't mistake me. But for all of his physical talents, he has yet to make sense of it.
3. Unfortunately all I see here is what a Nog fight with Semmy Schilt would look like in his current incarnation.
Struve is obviously way less talented than Schilt. That goes without saying. But Struve is pretty violent. He likes to exchange strikes, opting for a very heavy right hand.
While Struve has solid mechanics, and is capable of boxing, his flaws always go back to his defense, and desire to brawl. Much is always made about his "physical talent". I'd argue that it's his lack of talent that makes him so flawed. Yes he has height. But he doesn't have fluidity. He's dynamic; possessing a strong grappling game to go along with raw power in his strikes. But he doesn't flow.
Nog would have picked him apart in his prime. Just watch his fight with Sergei Kharitonov to see how good his boxing actually was in his prime. We know this. The question is whether or not even the residue of Big Nog's shadow can be enough to outbox Struve.
It'll be interesting to see how much of this fight ends on the ground. Struve is so offensively gifted that he can lucksack his way into great position. Just look at the Mario Neto fight. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Struve give Nog a submission scare or two.
Struve hits hard enough that even with Nog winning early exchanges, Struve will just bull passed Nog's offense, and land the only one or two straight hands he needs to in order to end the fight, and likely Nog's career. And yea it's painful writing that. Stefan Struve by TKO, round 1.