Struve taking aim at top contender status

By taking advantage of his 7-foot frame, Stefan Struve has reeled off a five-fight win streak. Josh Hedges/Getty Images

For the record, when Stefan Struve looks in the mirror, he sees the same thing everyone else sees when they first look at him: a really, really tall guy.

The 7-foot Struve is well aware of the physical advantage he holds in the UFC heavyweight division. He also knows he hasn’t always used that advantage as well as he should. That's the one focus the 25-year-old has right now in his career.

You know your size is unique. Now use it to your advantage.

"When I first got into the UFC, I tried to get the win a little too hard," Struve told ESPN.com. "Sometimes I would fight at their distance and on their terms. That shouldn't be the case with my size. Everybody should be fighting on my terms -- my distance. [In previous fights] I've put myself in position for guys to tee off on me. That shouldn't happen."

Struve (25-5) has been one of the most consistent heavyweights in the UFC in the past three years, winning nine of 12 fights in the Octagon. The three losses, however, have all come in devastating, first-round knockout fashion.

That outcome is certainly a possibility in Struve's upcoming fight against Mark Hunt (8-7), which will serve as the co-main event in this weekend's UFC on Fuel event in Japan. Of Hunt's eight professional wins, five have come via knockout.

Since his last appearance -- a TKO win over Stipe Miocic in September -- Struve says he's added between 15 and 20 pounds of muscle to his frame. On Friday, he plans to actually cut five pounds of water weight to make the 265-pound limit.

The weight gain apparently came somewhat naturally, as Struve says he must have hit a second "growth spurt." He also said he added another daily meal to his diet.

So, does that means he's eating four meals per day?

"Instead of six meals and two shakes, I eat seven meals a day," Struve said. "I'm on a really healthy diet. I lift two to three times per week. I've been working with the same strength coach for four years and the plan was not to gain too fast."

Struve has a similar plan when it comes to the UFC title -- nothing too fast. He quickly accepted Saturday's matchup against Hunt, despite the fact the same fight was scheduled last May, and he's posted two wins since then.

He passes on the opportunity to criticize No. 1 heavyweight contender Antonio Silva, who is set to face Cain Velasquez at UFC 160 despite being dominated by Velasquez less than one year ago. Struve calls the fight, "the most logical choice."

That said, Struve needs no reminder that a win over Hunt would extend his win streak to five. That's tops in the UFC, not counting Strikeforce newcomer Daniel Cormier.

"Anything can happen, so first I want to get my win [on Saturday]," Struve said. "Then we'll see what happens. If I win this fight, I'll be a on a five-fight win streak. I'm the only guy on a five-fight win streak, so I think I have a pretty strong bid to be the top contender."