Andrei Arlovski looked like a rejuvenated fighter against Stefan Struve at UFC 222 in Las Vegas Saturday night. And while it wasn’t always pretty, he stuck to the game plan and scored another win.
UFC 222 on Saturday saw the meeting of two heavyweights both looking to set the tone in their first fights of 2018. Stefan Struve entered the night looking to right the ship after ending 2017 with a TKO defeat late in the 3rd round at the hands of Alexander Volkov.
Not too long ago, Andrei Arlovski saw himself riding a five fight skid that saw him suffer TKO losses to the likes of Alistair Overeen, Francis Ngannou and current Champion Stipe Miocic. The veteran fighter was able to get back on track at UFC Norfolk late last year when he secured the unanimous decision victory over Marcin Tybura. That bought himself some breathing room, and a date with Struve.
When the action got underway Saturday, it started off slowly with both fighters feeling each other out. Arlovski initiated with a stiff leg kick, followed by another. Struve answered back with a punch of his own. ‘The Pitbull’ continued to chop at the legs of Struve, who returned the favor with a kick of his own. Arlovski followed with an over hand right that lead into the clinch, eventually bringing Struve down to the mat. Arlovski, recognizing the strength of Struve’s ground game, didn’t stay in his guard for long. The former champ stood back up, and continued to chop at the Dutchmen’s legs. Struve landed a stiff right in response and scored a takedown on Arlovski, only to be reversed. The round came to a close with both men on their feet, however Struve’s leg was clearly showing the damage from repeated lashings from the kicks of Arlovski.
The following two rounds played out much the same. Arlovski worked the leg kicks and Struve struggled to utilize his reach. Rather than fighting like a seven foot tall man, he unbelievably moved in when throwing leg kicks. Struve’s failure to play to his strengths allowed Arlovski to get the upper hand. You could practically feel Arlovski getting stronger as the fight went on, with Struve not able to find an answer. The second saw probably the best chance for Struve, after sweeping Arlovski and working a leg lock that Arlovski was able to escape. After that, the ‘Skyscraper’ never really came close again.
The final round saw the pace slow, but Arlovski was still chopping away on Struve’s legs as he pushed the pace and secured another takedown. That was the final nail in the coffin for Struve in the fight.
Andrei Arlovski def. Stefan Struve by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)