Stefan Struve endured a hostile crowd while also fighting one of his idols as the Dutch kickboxer got back on track with a unanimous decision win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 190.
Struve has battled through a health scare with a heart condition that nearly ended his career and dropping back-to-back fights by knockout to finally get back in the win column while facing a legend in Brazil. Nogueira was in just as much need of a win following the roughest run of his entire career over the past few years.
Nogueira quickly rushed across the Octagon as soon as the fight started as he initiated the clinch while trying to drag Struve to the ground. The 7-footer from Holland was able to resist the attempts, and he countered with two hard right hands that hurt the Brazilian legend.
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While Nogueira's chin has been questionable in his last couple of fights, he was able to endure the two hard shots courtesy of Struve and come back late in the round.
Nogueira worked inside and started cracking Struve with lefts and rights over the top while still maintaining control on the body. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt finally pulled Struve to the mat in the second round but couldn't hold onto the mount, and the fight worked back to the feet in rapid order.
Struve came alive in the final two minutes of the second round with a series of front kicks to the body and followed those up with uppercuts that popped Nogueira repeatedly.
The third round saw Struve at his best all fight as he started targeting Nogueira with more and more kicks to the body and the legs, battering the former UFC and PRIDE champion during nearly every exchange.
With under a minute to go, Nogueira continued to plod forward just eating punches and kicks from Struve until the final horn sounded.
The judges all saw the fight the same way with 30-27 scores all in Struve's favor to give him the win while Nogueira dropped his third fight in a row and fourth in five fights. At just 27 years of age, Struve still has a lot of fight time ahead of him, but Nogueira may finally have reached the end of a Hall of Fame career.