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Stefan Struve: I'll Talk to McCorkle on Saturday, and It Won't Take Long

Stefan StruveThe last time Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve was in the Octagon, things got off to a pretty terrible start. Even before he stepped in the cage at UFC 117 back in August, he already knew it was going to be a rough night.

It started with a light-headed feeling, then a little dizziness, and then some vomiting, all within a couple hours of fight time. This was all due to a bad case of nerves, the 22-year-old Struve said. After getting knocked out in his previous effort against Roy Nelson, he knew he needed to win this one. He let the pressure get to him, and it left him in a weakened state by the time he stepped in against Christian Morecraft in Oakland, Calif.

"The first few minutes of the fight were okay, and then all my energy was gone," Struve told MMA Fighting. "I just thought, this is not going to be good."

He was right. For most of the first round Morecraft battered him with vicious ground-and-pound that left Struve bloody and dazed. Just by feeling the inside of his lip with his tongue, Struve knew something was wrong. It wasn't until he returned to his corner after the round that he found out just how bad it was.

He might think it's just funny, but it's not funny when someone goes on the internet every day to try and make a fool of you.
-- Stefan Struve
"I remember hearing [cutman Jacob] 'Stitch' [Duran] say to the doctor, 'If he has a good surgeon he'll be alright,'" Struve recalled. "That was something. After the first round they cleaned it to try and stop the bleeding, and then it felt worse. It makes you think that you need to finish the fight and not take any more blows on the lip because, of course, you want to keep your lip."

When he told his trainers that he felt faint, Struve said, they responded by telling him to "shut up and just fight." With his energy fading, they instructed him to throw everything he had at Morecraft in the first minute of the second round, since being able to effectively go the distance was looking less and less like a viable option.

"It's not like I was going to stop fighting," said Struve. "So I gave it all I had in the first minute and took him out."

In the first 30 seconds Struve got Morecraft in front of him and unfurled a three-punch combo, dropping his opponent to the mat with a straight right hand. A few more rights once Morecraft was down sealed the deal, and a bloody Struve managed to find just enough energy for a victory lap around the Octagon.

"It's nuts. The adrenaline rush you get from that is crazy," he said. "You get beat up the first round and then come back, it's amazing."

But in this sport, you only get to bask in your glory for so long before it's time to face the next challenge. For Struve, that challenge comes at UFC 124 in Montreal this Saturday night in the form of outspoken American Sean McCorkle.

Not only is the 6-foot-7 McCorkle the closest that the 6'11" Struve may ever come to picking on someone his own size in the UFC, he's also the polar opposite of Struve when it comes to pre-fight hype. He's spent the past several weeks on Twitter calling Struve everything but a gentleman and a scholar. While he insists it's all in good fun, it doesn't seem as if Struve is quite so amused.

"He might think it's just funny, but it's not funny when someone goes on the internet every day to try and make a fool of you," said Struve. "But I don't really care about him. I don't like him. I'll talk to him on Saturday and it won't take long."

Struve said he's opted to stay in the Netherlands to train for this fight, focusing primarily on his striking because, as he put it, "I'm not worried about [McCorkle's] ground game."

And while he might have preferred to ignore the trash talk altogether, it's been a little difficult to avoid recently.

"I've paid attention to it, but it doesn't bother me that much. To be honest it got me focused in training. It reminded me almost every day of why I'm training so hard. When I was struggling in training or when I was tired, my trainer would just call out his name and it got me through it."

The good news is, McCorkle's constant chatter has brought attention to the fight. Now they're both off the prelims and onto the main card, set to take the stage just before the main event goes off.

The increased visibility makes the stakes even higher, but Struve isn't worried about nerves affecting him this time, he said. Instead he's focusing on finally getting in the cage with his online tormentor and finally getting his chance to answer back.

"He won his first fight in the UFC and you don't win in the UFC unless you've got some skill," said Struve. "But I think I'm a way better fighter, and I'm going to prove that on Saturday."

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