Stefan Struve interview – Part 1 – He will be back in the UFC, he only couldn’t say it out loud!

Welcome to another episode of Official Bonjasky, we are here with Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve! A man of 213 cm and a span width of 215cm, I am right? Well eh.. I only hear it in inches. So eh, that’s about 84,5″ or 85″ Actually, in centimeters I don’t know exactly How are you? Good, thank you. You look good.. Yeah yeah, it’s not like I have been doing nothing Just been jogging in the woods, so I’m fit Oh, so you’re still working out? Yeah, that’s part of my system you know It’s not like I have my own gym where I have to give lectures I do some lectures at Bob’s (Schreiber), but currently I don’t have a lot of obligations, so when you have this much time, then you’re better off training I just feel it’s still in me, being in training. This morning as well, 15 sprints up the hill I am unable to train “normally” All by yourself? Yeah, my mate was unavailable so just went by myself After my last fight I had a lot to do in and around the house The last couple of weeks I have been relaxing But I was getting a bit hyper, so I boosted my training efforts But eh Stefan… Do you still have it in you? Yeah, of course, you know Your not out very long, actually in my opinion your not out at all It’s been only recently that you made a statement in the octagon, but… I think you’re not done yet Of course, but I have explained my reasons, so most people understand, you know… I came from a heavy series of fights, and my last fight, which at the end I won, after a bad start Which I mentally had to overcome, before that I lost 3 fights in a row So mentally I was in bad weather, so those fights only get tougher It’s not like you do it just like that For my last bout I was very well prepared and then after three seconds I was lying on the ground I was watching you live and I was thinking “what is going on!?” Yeah, what happened… I was throwing a front leg kick, but I didn’t, then he stepped in deep Actually it made think of you, like you hit Sem Schilt with a left hook If you don’t throw an attack, he will So I didn’t remember the first part of the fight, and slowly I got back in the game and I was like wooow shit I must say, you fought yourself quite well through that Yeah, that’s something I have in me, it’s something I always had Fortunately I was able to turn it around Is that something you always had in life, when you encountered a setback, that you would fight yourself out of it? Yes, you always somehow come back, and some times you need help from others In a lot of fights I was able to turn it around, of course you rather wouldn’t have to, you know I was prepared well and I was convinced I was going to demolish this guy But when you’re on your ass in 3 seconds then that game plan is over and you swith to plan B Stefan, how did it start out with you, how did you get into martial arts? By my brother. In that time Bob (Schreiber) was still lecturing here in Beverwijk, 10 minutes away My brother was taking me with him. He also had DVD’s from Pride and we also watched K1, when you were the man With your flying knees.. I was, 14 years old And then you know.. You start doing that as well So my brother took me with him, I started out with training on the bag because of my braces I wasn’t allowed to participate in the free fight lectures, as they called it back then Most of the guys were a bit older and I was still thin as wall paper So mainly training on the bags and slowly I started sparring and doing ground work So that’s a bit how it started Yes, so from there on you started to become a big fighter… Yes At 16 years old I did my first fight here in Beverwijk A year later the gym moved from Beverwijk to Wormer Some fighters stayed here in Beverwijk and I decided to go on I quite quickly moved up from amateur to pro And Bob was getting offers abroad which usually would go the those guys But now he didn’t have much to choose from So he said, he’s doing well.. Yeah, I’ve got someone Is this something you were, I don’t want to say, forced, to choose ground fighting over fighting in stance? I always did both. I didn’t start with kick boxing. Bob has always had an MMA gym, with not many kick boxers And when I started he had a large group of MMA guys, which were pulling up my game They all were physically stronger, more developed, so I had to handle them in a sophisticated manner, with technical skills On my back, with triangles and arm bars… That’s the way how I’ve been developing myself My standing skills have improved a lot in the last couple of years, that’s how things went with me Bob Schreiber was always coaching you, what does he mean to you? He means a lot too me, we are very close. He thought me how to fight, you know With him it all started. When I made my debut in the UFC he was my only coach It was just him, all alone, who trained me. And it was just him who got me into the UFC After a couple of fights you see the level is high, so then you understand it’s utopia to think that you can learn everything from one person Especially in MMA. You have to know how to wrestle, how to fight on the ground, how to fight standing Bob knows about everything his share, but of course he’s not a wrestler, Bob’s not a ground fighter… So then you have to look for more people to help Bob is still in my corner at all my fights, he actually didn’t miss one fight So yeah we are very close and I really consider him as family Indeed, so he is more then just a trainer Yeah, that bond is extremely strong, and I know when he’s in my corner or when I walk into a dark alley, that he’s got my back, no matter what If you would describe your fighting style, what would you say? That’s a tough one and it’s also something that has evolved over time Especially in MMA, everything evolves very fast and you have to know everything And I am a fighter who always wants to go for a kill. I want to finish the fight before we go to decision If I see a gap I am going for it, as well as in stance as on the ground Especially… Like in my last bout, a lot was happening In my fights there’s a lot going on Like a cut here and a cut there… Yeah, for example, that I have a very tough round and I have to overcome it to turn it around in the next round I think I am in the top with most acknowledged bonuses, for KO’s & submissions, within the UFC heavy weight division I just always try to go for the kill Because all those years in the UFC… You’ve been the biggest fighter, literally When you look back at your career, do think you got the most out of it? Yeah, difficult to say… At some point I was convinced I would be the champ one day Especially because I was so young when I started. Yeah, I also had the feeling you could become the champion one day Yeah, so people were saying, he’s got everything. He’s tall, he’s got reach, he’s strong, has a good ground game… He knows his wrestling, he can fight standing, but yes, I also have this thing with my heart It’s not a 100% and on the highest level each percent counts And how many percent this effects my level is very hard to tell So did I make the most of it? I don’t have that belt on the wall, so with regard to that no But I know I gave it everything, all those years Does that hurt? Does it hurt that you lack that percentage from your heart, which could make the difference of having that belt on the wall? Of course, when you look at it that way it hurts. But you have to be realistic, it is what it is You can make yourself go crazy or you accept that you didn’t reach that goal, but you had a great career So you accepted it? Yeah if I would stop now, I can say I had a beautiful career, there are not a lot of people who can say they fought 22 bouts in the UFC I came in the UFC when I was 21 years old, especially for a Dutch guy And then they put you in that cage with a monster right away Yeah, Dos Santos. I also stood against a lot of people who were a bit enhanced, who’ve been eating from the forbidden cookie box I know that, me, I never did that. I’ve done everything I could and that’s the most important to me If you work and fight hard and don’t make it So speaking of your heart, what’s the status? Actually it’s hodling up very well. They found it back in 2013 The found a leaking heart valve, which was there since the day I was born, it was never treated The leak was pretty heavy, which caused my heart chamber to grow. Now I am on medication, which helped to reduce it to an acceptable level Actually it’s very stable since then. Of course you see in heavy training the heart has to do over time, but that’s the same with you I have a sports heart, it’s simple If I wouldn’t be fighting on this level, maybe my situation would be worse, but that’s also something we don’t know If I quit now, it could take longer before I would get surgery But not necessarily It’s comparable to the situation with your eye When doctors say you can’t fight anymore because of your eye, but you still want to win the K1 So yeah, what are we gonna do? No, I am not stopping, I have to go on Yeah, so that eye is scary and you need your heart too, you know No, and yes I think I made more or less the same decision as you did, back then And yes I should have stopped, every other person would have stopped There a small group of people, to which we belong to, I think You have a passion, there is a road you want to follow And if it’s climbing that mountain, The Mount Everest, and you know you can die up there You go up there anyway, I had the same feeling I knew I could become blind, but still that title was more important That was my goal, my dream, just like you So then in that cage, I remember it because I was in the studio as a commentator I was doing the analysis together with Germaine de Randamie You took the mic and said “this is it, I am retiring” For me that was… When you said it, I got a bit emotional Yes. You know how that feels after a fight like that Especially when you had a lot on your plate, it can even get more emotional Actually you have to know, how to switch those emotions off, easily At some point in your career you should do that with a smile But when you have a losing streak of 3 fights and that last fight you give everything you have in you, especially mentally Physically I wasn’t even tired after that first round, I looked at him and he was gassed out, he gave everything to finish me Mentally this costed me so much energy… Can I keep doing this!? Why am I doing this?? This frigging sport, you know… All those things Yeah, so I gave it a lot of thought and at that point I was completely gassed out OK, but are you still gassed out? So you made your statement, but I had the feeling, he said it, but he’s not done yet

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