After a major health-related scare, heavyweight Stefan Struve finally makes his UFC return this weekend in Las Vegas against Matt Mitrione. The intriguing clash is part of the main card of UFC 175. “Skyscraper” hasn’t fought since a March 2013 third-round knockout loss to Mark Hunt after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition. He received the green light to resume his fighting career after underdoing doctors’ treatment. Mitrione is coming off an impressive first-round knockout of Shawn Jordan at the TUF China Finale.
Struve remained optimistic during his medical ordeal and is confident he can still become a prominent player in the division. The 7-foot Struve currently holds down the No.12 ranking in the organization. He’s gone 9-4 during his UFC career and has been involved in a number of exciting clashes. Struve has recorded five post-fight bonuses and holds a notable knockout win over No.6 ranked contender Stipe Miocic.
The 26-year-old Dutch fighter is a proven finisher with 23 of his 25 victories being produced by either knockout or submission. Struve’s remarkable height and reach, along with his grappling and submission skills will be a formidable challenge for Mitrione to deal with. Struve will have to shore up his defense as lapses in the past have led to first-round knockout defeats at the hands of Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Travis Browne.
This is literally a big opportunity that looms for “Meathead.” Mitrione also has solid finishing abilities with six knockout wins in seven career victories. The Season 10 alum of The Ultimate Fighter has compiled a 7-3 ledger during his 10 Octagon appearances. His most high-profile victory came against Kimbo Slice at UFC 113 and he’s faced the likes of Brendan Schaub and Roy Nelson. Mitrione has a straight forward style and is never shy about engaging in a good stand-up battle.
This has the makings of being a fun heavyweight scrap. Both fighters have shown knockout abilities and have also been on the receiving end of some KO losses. Struve can immediately become a key player in the heavyweight ranks by making a successful return. Mitrione is coming off one of his better career efforts against Jordan, and a victory against the towering Struve would raise his stock substantially.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for RantSports.com