Stipe Miocic may be the reigning king of the heavyweights, but he endured his share of difficulties during his rise to the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Five years ago today, he faced Stefan Struve in his first turn as a UFC headliner.
“Skyscraper” stopped the previously undefeated Miocic on second-round punches in the UFC on Fuel TV 5 main event on Sept. 29, 2012 at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England. The first 7-footer to ever compete inside the Octagon, Struve closed it out 3:50 into Round 2.
Miocic did some excellent work in the first round, as he ripped rights and lefts to the head and body of the 24-year-old Dutchman. The blows to Struve’s midsection might have paid serious dividends had the fight lasted longer. However, momentum abandoned Miocic in Round 2. Struve looked like a different fighter, as he assumed a far more aggressive approach with the right uppercut as his chief weapon. He had Miocic on the run more than once. After the Strong Style Fight Team member slipped near the cage, Struve unleashed two hellacious right crosses that permanently altered the direction of the bout. A series of uppercuts followed, and one final left hook was enough to force referee Herb Dean’s hand. Miocic slumped.
“I trained for five rounds, and I knew I had it in me,” Struve said. “I saw he really slowed down in that second round, and I landed a good uppercut. I always want to finish, so you know if I’ve got him rocked that I’m going in for the kill.”
Five years later, Struve remains the only man to have finished Miocic.
“I heard some complaints about my power in the past, but I think they might change their opinion right now,” he said. “I need to work on using my reach better. Some moments were pretty good, some weren’t so good, but I think I showed I have a good chin.”
Though they remain inextricably linked by their head-to-head encounter, the two heavyweights have gone their separate ways since. Struve owns a middling 3-4 record in seven subsequent appearances, while Miocic has gone 8-1 en route to capturing the UFC heavyweight crown.