The last time we saw Stefan Struve was in March, when he was getting his jaw broken in a rugged fight against Mark Hunt that propelled the big New Zealander up the rankings. Despite the loss, the 7 foot Struve remains one of the most intriguing fighters in the weight class, and it is being reported out there that he is looking at return in September or October. The opponent has not been set by the UFC, however Struve is thinking about a matchup with Antonio Nogueira, and since they are both coming off losses, the matchup makes a lot of sense.
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It is a hard call to make to predict where the line might open for this fight. Noguiera, long considered Hall of Fame worthy, is 3-3 in his last six fights, and the mileage on his body is starting to pile up. In his last outing, he was defeated by Fabricio Werdum, and he has had another surgery on the arm that Frank Mir snapped.
Struve represents a tough opponent for Big Nog, as at 25 years old he is just fresher athletically than Minotauro and he is a very technically sound fighter. The main issue that will always come up for Struve is his suspect chin, and he is recovering from a broken jaw, so one can assume that his chin will need to be protected as he continues his career.
This becomes Noguiera’s best chance – a KO. Though Noguiera does not have a slew of KO’s on his resume, he has always been a skilled boxer and he did recently score a TKO over Brendan Schaub. Noguiera is still crafty on the ground, but Struve is no slouch, and the bottom line is that Big Nog has been submitted in 2 of his last 3 outings. The fight is unlikely to go to the mat.
Which leaves Noguiera at a disadvantage. Despite his boxing skill, he will be slow against Struve, and it is always tough to prepare to box a 7 footer with massive height and reach advantages. That length means Nog cant reach Struve’s chin, and there is little in his recent performances that makes you think Big Nog will get his punch in there. Let’s see if the UFC can make this match happen!