UFC on FUEL TV 8 Picks: Stefan Struve (-175) vs. Mark Hunt (+155)

Stefan-Struve UFC on FUEL TV 8 Saitama Super Arena, Japan Saturday, March 2, 2013 Heavyweight fight: Stefan Struve (-175) vs. Mark Hunt (+155) Fight Breakdown: Heavyweights collide in the co-main event of UFC on FUEL TV 8, as 7-foot tall Stefan Struve takes on 5-foot-10 Mark Hunt in a battle of giants that’s a throwback to the PRIDE days of freak show fights. This fight is scheduled for 15 minutes but with two fighters who have to cut down to make the 265-pound heavyweight limit, this fight won’t make it to the final bell. Believe it or not, the 25-year-old Struve (25-5) is the youngest fighter in the UFC heavyweight division. It’s pretty amazing fact considering he already has 12 UFC fights to his credit (he has a fantastic 9-3 record inside the Octagon). So while it may seem like he’s been around forever, the truth is he hasn’t even hit his prime yet, despite looking great as of late. Since losing to Travis Browne via knockout at UFC 130, Struve is 4-0 with four stoppage victories over Dave Herman, Lavar Johnson, Stipe Miocic and Pat Barry. Those wins have cemented his place amongst the top 10 in the entire heavyweight division. Although Struve is improving as a striker and finally beginning to use the 84-inch reach he’s been blessed with effectively, he’s still primarily a BJJ fighter, with 16 of his career victories coming by way of tapout. The problem with Struve, though, is that he gets hit way too much, and he has been knocked out by Browne, Roy Nelson and Junior dos Santos so far in his UFC career. Even in his victories over Paul Buentello, Denis Stojnic and Christian Morecraft, Struve took a tremendous amount of punishment before finally finding a way to win each fight. And it may indeed be his heart that’s his biggest asset, which is why you can never count Struve out of any fight. Hunt (8-7) is arguably the most powerful striker in the UFC heavyweight division. The former K-1 kickboxing standout owns mammoth KO power in his hands as well as heavy leg kicks, and in his short UFC career he owns brutal KO victories over Chris Tuchscherer and and Cheick Kongo, as well as a decision victory over Ben Rothwell. He also has an iron chin, having only been knocked out once in his career. Additionally, he owns notable career victories over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop when both of those fighters were at the peak of their respective careers back in the PRIDE days. The problem with Hunt, though, is his ground game. When he went on a six-fight losing streak from 2006-2010, he lost five of those fights by submission, including an embarrassing loss to Sean McCorkle in his UFC debut. But when you keep in mind that the other submission losses came to Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Gegard Mousasi and Josh Barnett, they don’t look so bad in hindsight (he was also surprisingly knocked out by Melvin Manhoef during his losing skid). However, while it can be argued that Hunt has improved on his ground game since (he nearly submitted Rothwell with an armbar in their fight at UFC 135), against Struve he won’t want to sit in the tall Dutchman’s guard. Hunt needs to keep this fight on the feet and he needs to look for the knockout, and that’s what I think he’ll do. Fight Prediction: Unless Struve uses his length effectively in the early part of this fight or pulls guard early, I see Hunt walking forward, backing Struve up against the fence, and landing a bomb on his chin that will put the lanky Dutchman’s lights out and cement Hunt’s place as one of the top heavyweights in the game today. Adam’s Pick: Hunt via KO (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: With Hunt’s massive power and Struve’s lack of striking defence, you have to go with with “The Super Samoan” at +155. Hunt’s likely path of victory is a knockout, so +200 for the inside the distance prop on Several Bookmakers is a good value bet. Also look to play the “fight does not go the distance” prop as parlay fodder.

Written by Adam Martin.

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