Stefan Struve took his first MMA fight at 17 years old, and now, at 24, he has already been in the Octagon with some of the sport’s top talent. At the age of 21 he made his debut against current heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, and although he fell short in the contest, he knows what its like to be in the cage with one of the best. Some people can’t get around his size, standing at 6’11 with a 84.5 in reach, but Struve thinks its no accident that it seems to be a common thread in a few of MMA’s biggest stars.

“My physique is not the most common,” Struve told MMAfighting. “But look at Jon Jones. He’s a tall, lanky champ. Anderson Silva is a tall, lanky champ. So the tall guys are doing well, and I plan on being a tall, lanky champ in the future.”

Struve understands he is young and has a long career ahead of him, but he is in no hurry to be champion.

“I’m going to retire with about 80 UFC fights,” Struve explained. “We’ll see. It’s just business as usual. Take it fight by fight, have fun with it. I’ve been doing it since I was 17 years old. The UFC was a real big step up and it really showed me that there were a lot of areas I had to work on, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m going to keep on doing this for a long time.”

Clearly, despite being young, Struve has the maturity to under it’s a process and, to hear him tell it, he has seen how some fighters were thrown into title fights before being ready, stating, “You don’t want to do it too fast because you’re going to fall down.”

Days out from his main event fight with the undefeated Stipe Miocic (9-0) in Nottingham, England, the Dutch fighter is calm, cool and collected.

“I don’t stress about all the things that happen day-to-day,” he revealed. “The media, the fans, and all that. I just do it all with a smile on my face, have fun with it, and do my thing. I couldn’t be more thankful for the way things are going. It’s just something I’ve done so many times before and it’s starting to get easier every time.”