It was a rough night at the office for Stefan Struve this past Saturday night as he had to deal with two punishing illegal blows to the groin from Ben Rothwell during a fight he apppeared to be winning at UFC 245, only to then be KO’d when he still agreed to continue fighting.
Now Struve has spoken out about his experiences on that night, including his thoughts on dealing with the groin strikes, the crowd’s reaction, his opponent Ben Rothwell and referee Dan Miragliotta’s handling of the situation.
First things first, as would have been evident to any man watching on Saturday night – the groin shots Struve received hurt a whole lot.
“Yeah, it hurt,” Struve told MMA Junkie. “It took my breathing away and I had to relax my abdomen and stuff. It took a while, man. It definitely hurt. Things were sensitive after that. And after the second one, my abdomen really hurt like it was going back into my kidneys, and yeah, it was no fun.”
Normally such illegal blows draw a great deal of sympathy from the crowd, but not with those in attendance in the Washington D.C. that night as they began making light of the situation by booing Struve when he was down or bent over trying to recover and cheered when he stood up, and he admits that did have an affect on him at an already trying time.
“I never really had this happen during any fight,” Struve told MMAfighting.com. “It was weird because I was dealing with recovery and all that stuff happened, (and) it definitely does something with you. You want to continue, at the same time you’re like, ‘Hey man, just give me my time,’ because they really don’t know what I’m feeling right now. It was weird. It was a weird night.”
As for his opponent, Struve holds no ill-will towards Rothwell.
“I don’t hold any animosity against Ben, because I don’t think he threw those kicks on purpose. I do think you are responsible for what you throw in that cage. Even if it wasn’t intentional, they did their due and the fight changed completely in my opinion, after those shots.
“So even though I made the decision to continue, nine out of 10 fighters they’ll continue, that’s the thing. You get kind of screwed by the rules in my opinion, you need to be protected more.”
Another moment of controversy during all of this was the actions of referee ‘Big’ Dan Miragliotta, who clearly had sympathy for Struve’s plight, and appeared to suggest to ‘The Skyscraper’ that he was already going to be up two rounds on the scorecards if he continued competing and could then reassess the situation after the second round was over.
Of course that would prove to be ill-fated advice since Struve wouldn’t make it that far before being KO’d, but he’s actually spoken out in support of how Miragliotta handled the situation.
“Like there is no win for him if I continue or stop the fight, there’s nothing that benefits him,” Struve told MMAjunkie of Miragliotta. “He’s just trying to do his job. He knows me for a long, long time, for over 10 years. So people need to get off his back and let him be. Refereeing in MMA is so hard, you need to make split-second decisions. And these kinds of things, like how many times do these things happen? Like how do you deal under pressure with a fighter who was just fouled two times? It’s so tough.”
And despite all the disappointment, Struve still drew some positives from his performance against Rothwell.
“I’m happy with what I showed. When you watch the fight and you cut out all the negative things that happened, I looked really good and I won that fight. But at the same time you don’t, and those thing are out of my control. I looked really good out there, I did everything I trained and everything I wanted to do and show. Pretty much everything I threw: low kicks, front kicks, head kicks, side kicks, my jab was pumping, I hit him with good upper cuts, and even a perfect counter hook when he stepped in and I stepped out to the left. Everything was flowing, everything was so good.
“Also, before the finish he had a good block that hurt my leg, so props to him for that one. But man it’s so tough because I look really good. But yeah, at the same time there’s this feeling that it wasn’t good enough even though it was.”