Sometimes even social media friends have to fight each other.
On May 8, the Octagon will make its first appearance in the Netherlands with UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Arlovski. In the co-main event, the #12-ranked UFC heavyweight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva will take on Stefan Struve in the home country of the “Skyscraper.”
Unlike many other big name matchups, there’s no animosity between Silva and Struve. They actually have quite a lot in common. They follow each other on Twitter and, coincidentally, live near each other in south Florida.
“He’s a very nice young man,” Silva said of Struve. “We had the opportunity to have dinner together once before. We’re friends on social media. We both follow each other. I have seen him a couple of times [in Florida], but because of the fight we don’t keep in touch.”
In sheer physicality, the matchup between Bigfoot and Skyscraper is highly interesting, but there’s also an outside of the Octagon connection between the two as far as personality, martial arts journey, and where they are in their UFC careers.
The 38-year-old from Brasilia, Brazil spent his formative years in the sport training in his home country, later in England at Wolfslair MMA Academy and eventually settled in the “Sunshine State” as a member of the world-renowned American Top Team. Meanwhile, Silva’s opponent trained for years in his home of the Netherlands before joining the Blackzilians team in Boca Raton, which is about a 22-minute drive from ATT without traffic.
“There is an honor to fight and not lose to a Blackzilian,” Silva said. “It’s nothing personal. I am not his friend, I am not his enemy. It’s about business. And I want to win this fight. When the fight is finished, we can go on with our life and be friends.”
Fight Night Rotterdam prefight videos to watch: Overeem vs Arlovski Unstoppable preview | Must-see KO: Struve takes down Morecraft | Free fight: Arlovski vs Ian Freeman | Free fight: Overeem vs. Brock Lesnar | Great submission! Nelson chokes out Thatch
Besides being born in different hemispheres and now living in the same community because of a similar pursuit of the UFC heavyweight championship, Silva and Struve have fought their last two fights on the same cards with related results. Bigfoot scored a second-round knockout of Soa Palelei at UFC 190 then lost by first round knockout to Mark Hunt at UFC 193. Struve won a unanimous decision over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 190 before losing by unanimous decision to Jared Rosholt at UFC 193.
"No doubt about it, the fans should expect an amazing fight. We are two big fighters – huge in size – and we’re both going to look for the finish." -- Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva
“We’re both coming off losses and we both need to win,” Silva said. “No doubt about it, the fans should expect an amazing fight. We are two big fighters – huge in size – and we’re both going to look for the finish. It’s going to be an amazing match. We’re both looking for the finish.”
And they both will go for it, early and often, because that is what Silva and Struve have done time and time again. Across Bigfoot’s 28-fight pro career, he has gone the distance a total of four times and only one of those decisions occurred in the past six years. That lone decision was one of the greatest heavyweight bouts in UFC history, as Hunt and Silva battled to an incredible draw in December 2013. As for his opponent, Struve has had 38 pro fights with 23 of his 30 wins ending before the final horn.
With a 19-8, 1 NC pro record including 15 knockouts, Silva is focused not only on getting the win, but also improving his already powerful striking. Besides working his ground skills with Roan Carneiro, Silva has been hitting the mitts with ATT’s boxing coach Kelson Pinto, whose work with teammate Santiago Ponzinibbio has been on full display in his past two first-round knockout wins.
“Fans are going to see Bigfoot Silva going back to his roots – looking for the victory all the time,” Silva said. “Stefan is an amazing fighter. He’s a very good fighter who knows a lot of jiu-jitsu and a lot of kickboxing. Even though I respect the kid a lot, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I have fought guys that have beaten Struve. It gives me more confidence because I beat fighters that beat Stefan.”
To be exact, Silva owns wins over two fighters who have beaten Struve: Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem. These commonalities between Silva and Struve only add intrigue to the possibilities when the two tangle inside the Octagon.
This Sunday Rotterdam, two heavyweights’ shared interests will collide as Bigfoot meets Skyscraper to see who will get their hand raised inside the Octagon.