There’s an argument to be made that no other fighter has as great of a presence as Stefan Struve. The seven foot tall Dutchman has been lighting up the UFC since early 2009, and over the course of the last years we’ve seen many sides to the man that they call the Skyscraper.
We recently spoke with the 29-year-old who is currently preparing to wage war with upcoming star Alexander Volkov in September. As you can imagine, getting yourself into the mind set of stepping inside the octagon can be quite daunting, but Stefan’s approach to fighting and life in general is a testament to him as a person.
“Now and then I need to pinch myself. What I do is pretty special, and I never consider myself as special – I don’t act like that. I’m very modest. I don’t feel like I’m above other people because of the things I do.”
After finishing a long day of training the multi-time bonus award recipient was planning to wind down and celebrate the 4th of July with his friends, as anyone over in the States on Independence Day would naturally do. It’s something that exemplifies the mentality of a man who could quite possibly be the dark horse for a title run within the heavyweight division in 2017 and beyond.
“I always liked soccer but I wasn’t very good, so that wasn’t really an option. I was able to go into scientific education, the highest level in Holland. But I wasn’t motivated for that.”
It hasn’t all be plain sailing for Struve, though, and as you’ll hear being detailed there’s been a few road blocks on his path to glory. Despite that, Stefan continues to push through adversity and towards the end goal which has been set in his mind for a long time now: becoming the UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World.
“Everybody knows I had a couple really tough years after beating him [Stipe Miocic, Heavyweight Champion]. My heart issue came out, I lost my dad in the same period of time, it was a lot to deal with at that point.”
“A very big part of fighting is the mental side of it, and if things aren’t firing in your head then you probably aren’t going to have a good experience in there. I really had to fight my way back, I was almost all the way up the mountain and ready to get a title shot.”
Some people view mixed martial arts in different ways, but Stefan proves that it’s not necessarily about being a ‘barbaric’ cage warrior who lives for the fight. Now that’s not to say Struve couldn’t knock your head off within seconds because he could, but his down to earth persona coupled with the professional aura that he gives off makes him a great ambassador for the UFC.
From fighting all over the world to dealing with personal tragedies it’s been quite the journey thus far for the heavyweight, and it seems like things are only going to get more and more interesting as time goes on.
“I look at the top 10 in the heavyweight division and I feel like I can beat all of those guys. A lot of those guys are getting old.”
“I still think there’s some cheaters in there. Once a cheater, always a cheater. I feel good where I’m at right now, and I think that’s the most important thing. If you feel good about yourself you can beat anybody.”
You can see whether Stefan can keep the ball rolling when he faces the aforementioned Russian at UFC Fight Night: Struve vs Volkov in Rotterdam.