NOTTINGHAM, England - Stefan (Skyscraper) Struve took advantage of a lucky slip to earn a win at UFC on Fuel TV.
Struve capitalized on Stipe Miocic's momentary slip on the canvas and used it to land some big bombs along the fence to get a stoppage in the main event Saturday.
Struve (25-5, 9-3 UFC), a six-foot-11 native of the Netherlands, won for the fourth straight time — all by stoppage — and planted himself firmly into the UFC's heavyweight title picture with the victory.
"I felt good," Struve said. "Maybe I should have used my reach a little more in the fight.
"I felt his right hook and felt it wasn't hard enough to take me down, saw he was getting tired, had him rocked a couple of times I thought and I just finished it with a couple of uppercuts."
Miocic (9-1, 3-1 UFC) lost for the first time in his professional career.
In the first round, though Struve is seven inches taller than Miocic, the shorter and less experienced fighter still managed to make that height and reach advantage nearly moot.
Miocic found his way inside and expertly worked shots to Struve's body, then made it appear as if he was the one with the reach advantage. On several occasions, he had Struve backing up and wobbled. But Struve fought through to survive the round and move on to the second.
In that second frame, he appeared to find his range as Miocic began to tire out about a minute into the round. Struve was able to land a few big shots that had Miocic on his horse and backing up with Struve practically running to chase him down, looking for the finishing touches.
Shortly after, Struve cracked Miocic, and as Miocic slipped on the canvas and looked to regain his footing Struve took advantage and landed several consecutive uppercuts that had Miocic out on his feet. Referee Herb Dean stepped in to rescue him from further damage at 3:50 of the round.
Miocic, a former Golden Gloves boxer in Ohio as well as a wrestler at Cleveland State University and a good enough baseball player to get looks from major-league teams, said he'll regroup and work his way back.
"Where do I go from here? Back to the drawing board," Miocic said. "I'm going to get better."
In the co-main event, Nottingham native Dan Hardy fought in front of his hometown fans for the first time as a UFC fighter and picked up a unanimous decision victory over Amir Sadollah, the Season 7 winner of "The Ultimate Fighter."
Hardy fought a careful first round, then turned up the pace in the second and third, scoring points with several takedowns, plus some pinpoint striking both on the feet and on the ground that had Sadollah bloodied up by the fight's end.
In other action on the main card, England native Brad Pickett, a favourite of UFC president Dana White, continued to impress his boss with a knockout win worthy of his "One Punch" nickname. Pickett put Yves Jabouin on the canvas with that one punch, then followed up with two on the ground before the fight was stopped.
And in an upset, England's Paul Sass, who had finished 12 of his 13 opponents by submission en route to an unbeaten record, was himself submitted by Matt Wiman with a first-round armbar.
"I'm just devastated," Sass said. "I thought I was stronger the whole way through. I just got caught."