Stefan Struve file photo | Jim Page : Sherdog.com
Stefan Struve was forced to endure a near-constant stream of smack talk and one-liners from Sean McCorkle in the build-up to their bout at UFC 124, but the towering Dutchman made sure to get the last laugh on Saturday night.
It was Struve who struck first in the heavyweight affair, using every inch of his lanky right arm to bounce an overhand shot off McCorkle’s temple. The self-appointed “Big Sexy” responded by dumping Struve to the canvas with a high double-leg takedown. While he landed in side control, McCorkle soon found himself stuffed back to his 6-foot-11 opponent’s half-guard, his head loosely snared underneath Struve’s left arm.
McCorkle pressed his forearm onto Struve’s throat and, in doing so, was able to simultaneously extract his own head and pin down the limb which had trapped it. Almost instantly, McCorkle began framing up a kimura, twisting Struve’s left arm behind his own back. The submission-savvy 22-year-old recognized the hold immediately and began scooting backward, pressing his back into the cage and denying McCorkle the angle necessary to fully wrench the submission.
“I wasn’t concerned,” Struve remarked after the fight. “I went up to the fence, you know, and if he wanted to push it up, he would have pushed me up, so it was no problem for me there.”
Abandoning half-guard, Struve used his legs to rotate 180 degrees, wall-walking up the fence to relieve the pressure of the kimura. McCorkle tried to adjust his grip, but eventually relented and settled for side control. That wouldn’t last long, though, as Struve once more propelled himself off the cage with his sizable stems, sending both men into a tumbling sequence which eventually saw Struve secure a closed guard for the first time in the match.
Kneeling in his rangy opponent’s guard, McCorkle was able to land a few punches and elbows, but it was clear that the 34-year-old Indiana native was already beginning to tire. Struve seized control of both of McCorkle’s wrists and pivoted his hips, threatening an armbar and causing McCorkle to stand. Freeing the limb and sitting back in Struve’s guard, the fatiguing McCorkle gripped the back of his opponent’s head with both hands and pulled forward for a can opener. The neck-cranking frustration tactic would be McCorkle’s last offensive maneuver of the evening.
Struve once again grabbed hold of both of his man’s wrists, then sat up and shifted to isolate McCorkle’s left arm. Seeing that no kimura was available to him, Struve instead posted up on his own right arm and turned his hips, catching McCorkle dozing and deftly sweeping directly into full mount. After absorbing a rapid-fire flurry of a dozen punches and elbows, a bloodied McCorkle rolled onto his side. Momentarily contemplating a rear-naked choke, Struve instead opted to tee off with a further half-dozen shots, forcing referee Yves Lavigne to wave off the fight at the 3:55 mark.
Despite some early adversity, the victory was far less taxing than some of the gory scraps Struve has been involved with inside the Octagon. As such, the Dutch Goliath lobbed one last subtle verbal jab of his own back at McCorkle during the post-fight press conference.
“It’s good to keep my face intact for once. My last three or four fights were wars. It’s good to win an easy fight like that.”