UFC 193: Stefan Struve's best striking performances have come against lesser opposition

Most MMA fans would assume that a seven-foot-tall Dutch fighter would excel in the stand-up game. However, Stefan Struve has proven to be the exception to this rule. Since his UFC debut, which saw him fall to Junior Dos Santos in only 54 seconds, Struve has never managed to show the striking acumen of his fellow countrymen, such as Semmy Schilt, Peter Aerts, Alistair Overeem, etc. It's been his above average ground game and the dearth of talent in the heavyweight divison that has allowed "Skyscraper" to build himself a respectable UFC career.

In his last outing, Struve managed to pick apart whatever was left of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. "Big Nog" is clearly not the fighter that he was during his heyday. However, at the time, he was still a top-40 hevyweight. Prior to the Nogueira fight, Struve previously had only two striking performances against top-40 competition rate positive (as in above zero) on the StrikeScore scale (Fight Metric significant strikes were used as source data).

For the purpose of the following chart, rankings data was compiled from Fight Matrix. The contemporary ranking is the most recent "Generated Historical Ranking" of Struve's oppoent prior to their fight. The opponents are listed in order of contemporary ranking (highest to lowest). Contemporary ranking is where that fighter was ranked at fight time, not where they rank historically. The chart below shows that Struve's StrikeScore results greatly depend on the talent level of his opposition. This weekend at UFC 193, he takes on Jared Rosholt, a fighter known much more for his wrestling. But with a ranking of 27th, Struve may still struggle to score points on the feet.

StrikeScore for Stefan Struve vs. Fighter Ranked Above/Below 40

Rosholt holds a 5-1 record in the UFC. He is coming off a decision victory over Timothy Johnson at UFC Fight Night 73. However, that fight highlights a potential issue for Rosholt, and that is fading in the third round. Both his offensive striking output and accuracy dropped dramatically in the last round as compared to round 2. His number of total strike attempts went from 31 to 14, and his accuracy fell from 74 percent to 57 percent. Perhaps Rosholt was just having an off night, since his output and stirking actually increased in the final round in his three other decision victories.