Stefan Jaimy Struve (born February 18, 1988) is a Dutch mixed martial artist who competes as a Heavyweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. At seven feet, he is the tallest fighter in the UFC, while he is tied for the longest-reach in the UFC with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. Struve is known for his excellent grappling skills, with 16 career submission wins and three "Submission of the Night" bonuses in his career. Only one of his thirty-one professional fights has gone to a decision.
Growing up in the Netherlands, Stefan Struve played football until the age of 14. After his brother took him to the local martial arts gym (owned by Bob Schreiber), he decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts (MMA) instead. He had his first amateur MMA bout at age 16, and won via head kick knockout.
Struve made his professional debut for the GFN organization when he was 17, fighting John De Wilde at Gentlemen Fight Night. By late 2008, he had racked up a record of 16–2, losing once (in his second fight) via injury to Romualds Garkulis and again in the second round of a Star Of Peresvit tournament in Ukraine, to future Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu.
In 2008, Struve negotiated with the Dream and Affliction promotions, before signing a four-fight deal with the UFC.
Struve lost his UFC debut bout at UFC 95 to Junior dos Santos in the first round, after dos Santos stormed Struve with an aggressive flurry of punches. Struve won his next fight at UFC 99, over Denis Stojnic. Struve was cut open by hammerfists from Stojnic while on his back in the first round and, despite bleeding profusely, persevered in the second round and gained Stojnic's back, eventually locking in a rear naked choke to win by submission at 2:37 of the second round.
Struve defeated previously undefeated UFC newcomer Chase Gormley on October 24, 2009, at UFC 104 (also winning the "Submission of the Night" award). The bout was composed mainly of grappling after Gormley took Struve down. There, Struve attempted submissions, before giving up top position to Gormley and securing a triangle choke.
Struve then signed a new four-fight deal with the UFC. His first fight of this contract was against returning veteran Paul Buentello, at UFC 107. Struve replaced injured Todd Duffee. Struve defeated Buentello by majority decision (scores were 29–28, 29–28 and 28–28). After the fight, Struve stated "I don't feel like a winner right now", apparently displeased with his performance.
Struve fought The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights winner Roy Nelson on March 31, 2010, at UFC Fight Night 21. Nelson ducked under several of Struve's punches and scored a solid right hook on his chin for the knockout.
Struve then faced undefeated UFC newcomer Christian Morecraft at UFC 117. Struve defeated Morecraft via TKO due to punches at 0:22 of round 2. Morecraft dominated Struve in round one with a ground and pound attack, but was counterpunched and knocked out by Struve during an aggressive rush in round two. The performance won Struve the "Knockout of the Night" bonus award. Between rounds, Struve told his corner, "I'm almost fainting right now, guys."
In September 2010, Struve signed a new four-fight contract with the UFC.
Struve defeated the previously undefeated Sean McCorkle via first round TKO on December 11, 2010, at UFC 124. After being taken down early and escaping a kimura attempt, Struve swept McCorkle, gaining mount, and rained down a steady stream of strikes for the victory.
Struve faced the then undefeated Travis Browne on May 28, 2011 at UFC 130. Despite starting off strong, nearly locking in a D'arce choke, Struve would mistakenly jump for a flying knee, which Browne countered with a superman punch to KO Struve.
Struve defeated Pat Barry on October 1, 2011 at UFC on Versus 6. After a long feeling out process in the 1st round, Struve clinched with Barry, dragged him to the ground, and swiftly locked in a triangle armbar, earning the "Submission of the Night" bonus award in the process.
Struve faced Dave Herman on February 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV 1, winning via second round TKO. During a tepid first round, Struve seemed slow to start, finding little success against Herman who closed distance and looked the more agile striker of the two. In the second round Struve began to open up, mixing in a body-clinch take-down while piecing together striking combinations. He landed a left hook, inside leg kick, left hook & right uppercut in quick succession to drop a stunned Herman, proceeding to mount his opponent and deliver strikes until forcing the referee's intervention.
Struve was expected to face Mark Hunt on May 26, 2012 at UFC 146 but, on May 17, 2012, Hunt withdrew from the bout due to an injury and was replaced by Lavar Johnson. Struve quickly submitted Johnson in the first round with an armbar, earning his third "Submission of the Night" bonus.
Struve beat another undefeated prospect, Stipe Miocic, via TKO by punches in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 5 on September 29, 2012. The opening stanza saw Miocic slightly edge Struve in a competitive stand-up battle, until the second round when Struve utilized his reach more effectively and became more aggressive. The performance earned both participants Fight of the Night honors.
Struve faced Mark Hunt on March 3, 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV 8. Hunt defeated Struve via third round TKO, and broke Struve's jaw with one of his final punches of the fight.