May 4, 2016

UFC Fight Night 87 Is Stefan Struve's Opportunity To Make An Impact At Heavyweight

By Raphael Garcia

The UFC heavyweight division has a multitude of personalities, but it lacks the youth that the other divisions in mixed martial arts bring to the table. At UFC Fight Night 87, one of the division’s younger heavyweights is heading back into the Octagon in an important fight for not only his career, but the direction of the weight class.. Stefan Struve’s return to competition features a fighter who can become a compelling figure for the division at large.

At 28 years of age, Struve is one of the few fighters in the heavyweight division that has reached the Top 15 and is under the age of 30. He’s been in the UFC since 2009, when he debuted at UFC 95. Since that time he’s put together a 10-6 Octagon record that includes some highlight wins and some comical defeats. Still, he’s returning at just the right time and during the right event to establish momentum when the division needs it the most.

Struve’s career was almost ended early due to a heart condition in 2013 that pulled him out of competition for an extended period of time. His return fell under the radar, but that allowed him to get his competitive chops back together and secure a much-needed win at UFC 190. His defeat to Jared Rosholt at UFC 193 didn’t help his standing in the promotion, but unlike Rosholt who was recently cut from the roster, Struve always has the potential to put on a highlight-reel performance in victory or be dispatched in the same fashion.

In Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Struve is facing an opponent that is on the downside of his career but could give him a quality win that reintroduces him to the official UFC rankings. Silva currently sits in the number 12 position, but he is certainly sliding down the list with losses in three of his last four. 

The heavyweight division is currently suffering from a dearth of new names rising to the top. Outside of Stipe Miocic, the Top 10 of the weight class is largely composed of fighters that have spent a long time at the top of the division but have not broken through for title shots. While it may be difficult to see Struve winning bouts against some of the bigger names in this division, he could be a compelling matchup, as many of these men continue to age, and Struve reaches what is widely considered to be an athlete’s prime. Struve can begin to take advantage of this position on Sunday when he steps into the cage for the card’s co-main event.

The heavyweight division will always get a huge amount of attention in combat sports, and MMA is no exception. The division is lacking in new blood to excite the fans, but Stefan Struve could help himself with a big victory in the Netherlands, as he’s the closest thing to “new blood” that the UFC heavyweight division has.

UFC Fight Night 87
• Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva vs. Stefan Struve

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UFC Fight Night 87: Overeem vs. Arlovski takes place on May 8, 2016 at Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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