Fresh off earning his brown belt, UFC’s Stefan Struve looks to submit Mark Hunt in Japan

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Stefan Struve (right) attempts a triangle choke submission during the UFC on Versus event at the Verizon Center on Oct. 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC on Fuel TV 8’s Stefan Struve is on his way up the heavyweight ladder.

A win over Mark Hunt this weekend in Japan will mean a five-fight win streak for the Dutch fighter. And beating Hunt in the country where he gathered all his fame in Pride will be a huge statement in terms of Struve’s hunt for the heavyweight title.

GRACIEMAG.com recently talked to the 7-foot fighter about his upcoming fight, his newly-earned brown belt, and what hurdles he’s come across in order to get to where he is today.

GRACIEMAG.com: Tell us what you think about your opponent, Hunt. Do you feel people aren’t giving him the respect he deserves following the wins he’s collected since coming to the UFC?

STEFAN STRUVE: He deserves a lot of respect and he showed that with his last three fights. My interpretation with those fights is that he lost to McCorkle, obviously, and in his other three fights he ended up on his back. The difference in those fights from the fight with me coming up is, in my opinion, I’m much better than those guys when the fight hits the deck.

How do you plan on dealing with Hunt’s tremendous punching power when the two of you will fight on the feet at UFC on Fuel TV 8?

You don’t want to be in his range because he’s going to knock your head into the third row. If I fight my fight at my own distance … where I can hit him and he can’t hit me, it’s going to be really annoying for him. He’s going to want to come in fast and hard, every single time. And every single time he comes close, I’ll get the opportunity to take him down and end the fight.

The last time I spoke with you, you told me you were a purple belt. Has that changed since then and what hurdles have you come across to get to where you are?

I got my brown belt recently, a month and a half ago. I’m confident that I can fight with anybody on the ground in the UFC and defend myself against anybody. Werdum, Nogueira, Mir, I don’t care. I can defend myself against anybody on the ground. And if this fight hits the deck, then it’s going to be a short night for him. I’m going to finish him fast.

I’ve been training with my coach, Remco Pardoel, for about two and a half years now, but I’ve been grappling eight or nine years. A lot of things have been different, but I already knew them and what changes I needed to make. I learned a lot from Remco and also Henry (Akins) in L.A., and altogether they just improved my game so much. The biggest hurdle is doing what I do every single week: training 10 or 11 times, and put the intensity that I always put in there to strive for the best.

If you can, tell the GRACIEMAG readers what best describes your game plan against Hunt this weekend.

Don’t let him hit me, not even a single time. Stay at my own distance and don’t come into his reach. Pick him apart from the outside and when he comes close, take him down, submit him fast.

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