UFC on Fox 13 is  an event that will either solidify the heavyweight rankings or shake things up quite a bit.

One of the three heavyweight bouts taking place on the main card is between Alistair Overeem and Stefan Struve.

Stefan Struve, also known as Skyscraper, is returning from a long lay off due to a broken jaw suffered at the hands of his last opponent Mark Hunt and then dealing with a heart condition that he was unaware existed.

After being away for nearly two years, he needs to make a statement in his return. It wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate to say he is on the chopping block if he losses though. He has won four of his last five, but with the ever changing landscape in the UFC’s heavyweight division, he can get himself much higher in the rankings than his current spot at 15 with a win, but he’d find himself in unranked territory with a loss. A no man’s land that he doesn’t want to find himself in.

Alistair Overeem is currently ranked at 11 in the UFC rankings, but he is most likely fighting for his job. After suffering three defeats in his last four outings, all by way of TKO or KO, no one would have been surprised if he was handed his walking papers after his last loss. Overeem is a draw which has gotten him this next fight, but it’s difficult to see him hanging around the UFC if he losses to a fighter returning from an extended absence such as Struve. What can “The Reem” do to ensure he gets his hand raised on Saturday night?

Aggression 

Stefan Struve has been out for a long time. A long lay off will impact almost any fighter mentally, but Struve confirmed that he will have, at the very least, some jitters on Saturday night. Overeem’s aggression has fallen by the way because he has been leveled quite a few times now and that will surely make him want to play it safe.

In this case, he will be dealing with an eight inch reach deficit. He could end it by getting inside that Struve’s reach and attacking with his kickboxing tools. Think back to Overeem leveling Brock Lesner. If he can channel that version of himself on Saturday, he could end the fight in the first round.

Movement 

Once again, Stefan Struve’s greatest asset is his height and reach. He isn’t the biggest guy when it comes to muscle mass or weight, but he can still generate quite a bit of power. It’s important that Overeem moves quickly in and out Struve’s reach, while also capitalizing when he is within striking distance. Overeem’s chin could be gone and Struve has suffered 5 total KO losses, the last of which was one of the worst broken jaws in mma history. Neither man will be looking to engage in a sloppy stand-up war, but they will also be attempting to take advantage of each other’s weaknesses. Overeem has to get in striking distance, engage, retreat, and repeat if he doesn’t want to wake up looking at the ceiling.

Avoid the Ground

Both men have a surprising number of submission wins in their records (Overeem 19; Struve 16), Struve has less than Overeem, but he still seems more dangerous on the ground. Overeem hasn’t submitted anyone since 2009 and Struve’s lengthy limbs and flexibility could allow him to put Overeem away if it goes to the ground. The concern is less Overeem’s takedown defense and more Overeem being careless, going to the ground and getting caught.

Heavyweight fights seemingly end in a knockout more often than any other weight division and it would be surprising if this one made it to the second round. For both men their chins are quite possibly a bigger enemy than their opponents, but the area that Overeem can capitalize most is cage comfort.

Struve is going to be anxious and Overeem can’t let him settle in and get comfortable. If he swarms with strategic kickboxing, he can get his hand raised and walk away with a win bonus for less than five minutes of work.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.