Stefan Struve (right) picked Stipe Miocic apart in round two. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Stefan Struve now owns nine wins inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Only Frank Mir (14), Cheick Kongo (11) and Andrei Arlovski (10) have amassed more as full-time heavyweights.
Struve’s latest victory came at the expense of the previously unbeaten Stipe Miocic in the UFC on Fuel TV 5 headliner on Saturday at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England. The towering 24-year-old Dutchman recovered from a tepid first round and swept away Miocic with strikes in the second, extending his current winning streak to four fights.
A mainstay in the heavyweight division since joining the promotion at UFC 95 in February 2009, Struve has built a reputation as one of the sport’s most entertaining fighters. Only one of his 12 UFC fights has gone the distance and six of them -- including all three of his defeats -- have ended inside one round.
Struve has put himself in position to make a run into the Top 10 at heavyweight. Some, including Struve himself, have called for a matchup with two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Fabricio Werdum, and while such a pairing would not draw anyone’s ire at this point, it might be more beneficial for the UFC to bring along the 7-footer at his current pace. Strange as it sounds, he still has room to grow.
Other options are out there. Former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira returns from a horrific arm injury to face the talented but enigmatic Dave Herman at UFC 153 in two weeks. If “Minotauro” emerges unscathed, he would serve as a logical next step in Struve’s development.
In the wake of UFC on Fuel TV 5, here are six other matchups that need to be made:
Stipe Miocic vs. Antonio Silva-Travis Browne loser: Fed a cold dose of reality by Struve, Miocic must head back to the drawing board. How the 30-year-old Strong Style Fight Team representative responds to his first career defeat will tell the MMA world a lot about his future. Silva and Browne will toe the line against one another in the UFC on Fox 5 main event this Friday in Minneapolis. Browne enters the cage undefeated in 14 professional appearances. “Bigfoot” was mauled by former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in his promotional debut four months ago.
Dan Hardy vs. Siyar Bahadurzada: Hardy ran circles around “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah, adding unexpected takedowns to his trusted standup attack. He let the left hook fly, but elbows on the ground were his most productive weapons against Sadollah. Hardy has done much to rehabilitate his image in wake of a four-fight losing streak that nearly resulted in his being cut by the UFC. Bahadurzada dazzled in his Octagon debut in April, as he knocked out Paulo Thiago in 42 seconds. Injuries have kept the Afghan knockout artist on the shelf ever since.
Brad Pickett vs. Michael McDonald: Pickett lived up to his “One Punch” moniker, as he wiped Yves Jabouin with a right uppercut in the first round of their bantamweight showcase. The 34-year-old American Top Team representative has won 12 of his last 14 fights, losing only to current interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao and perennial contender Scott Jorgensen. Still just 21 years of age, McDonald has emerged as one of MMA’s most promising fighters at any weight. On an eight fight winning streak, he has not competed since he knocked out Miguel Torres at UFC 145 in April.
Matt Wiman vs. Mark Bocek-Rafael dos Anjos winner: Is there a lightweight on the UFC roster more underrated than Wiman? The 29-year-old Oklahoman won for the fifth time in his past six outings, submitting the previously undefeated Paul Sass with a first-round armbar in Nottingham. Wiman, who competed on Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” has quietly compiled a 9-4 mark within what many consider to be the UFC’s deepest division. Bocek will lock horns with fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt dos Anjos at UFC 154 in November in a bout between two men on two-fight winning streaks.
John Hathaway vs. Aaron Simpson-Mike Pierce winner: Hathaway may lack the pure physical ability one looks for in a star, but he makes up for it with hard-nosed determination. Now 7-1 in the UFC, the 25-year-old London Shootfighters export has responded to his disappointing defeat to Mike Pyle at UFC 120 with three consecutive wins. John Maguire was his latest victim. Hathaway figures to soon see an increase in the level of competition. Simpson and Pierce, two brutish and experienced wrestlers, will do battle at UFC on FX 5 on Friday.
Che Mills vs. Seth Baczynski: Mills dominated Duane Ludwig during their brief encounter, which closed in anticlimactic fashion when “Bang” suffered an apparent knee injury. It was the sixth win in seven appearances for the 30-year-old Mills, who showed no ill effects from his technical knockout loss to Rory MacDonald in April. Baczynski, meanwhile, has been posturing for higher-profile bouts. He has won his past six fights, including a first-round knockout against Simeon Thoresen at UFC 152 on Sept. 22.