The last time Stefan Struve stepped into the Octagon, he had a four-fight winning streak come to an end, courtesy Mark Hunt’s left hand. The punch broke Struve’s jaw on that night in March 2013, putting him on the road to a long recovery. Things went from bad to worse for Struve when he was diagnosed with a heart condition later in the year. However, things are looking up for the seven-foot tall fighter from the Netherlands.
Struve recently appeared on The MMA Hour and said that if all goes well, he plans on getting back in the Octagon in early spring and working his way back up the UFC heavyweight rankings.
The reason Struve has been on the shelf so long is a leaking aortic valve. More specifically, he has a bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital heart disease. The condition caused 30 percent of the blood that pumped through Struve’s aorta to leak back into his heart. Through rest and medication, Struve said that percentage has been reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent.
With that news, Struve asked his doctor if that 10 percent leakage would allow the 25-6 Struve to fight again. The reply, according to Struve, was, “Yeah, of course.”
The next step for Struve is to return to his doctor in six weeks. If everything remains the same or improves, Struve will head to Los Angeles for a second opinion. If that doctor sees no issues, the 25-year old Struve will begin to undergo the rest of the medical tests that will allow him to step back into the Octagon.
With that goal in mind, Struve said that he recently sparred for five, 5-minute rounds and that he did not “feel tired at all.”
That’s a far cry from how he felt during his fight with Hunt. Struve said that his heart condition played a big roll in him losing that fight, “My last fight, I believe I lost because of this. I never felt so low on energy in the cage. I could barely stand on my feet. The most difficult part for me was going out on a loss like that. Winning four fights with four finishes and then to go out like that, my body just stopped late in the first round. It just didn’t do what I wanted it to do anymore.”
Much of that had to do with the fact that Struve fell ill in the lead up to the fight with Hunt, and he never gave himself the proper rest he needed to recover from that illness. Struve was told by his doctor that in the future if he does get sick, he needs to shut everything down and give his body the rest it needs to fully recover. With his heart condition, there will be no working through the illness for Struve.
During his time off, Struve has learned a great deal about what his body requires to deal with his heart condition. According to Struve, the hiatus also, “Showed me how much I loved the sport, and how much I love to do this.”
In closing, Struve offered the following to his fellow UFC competitors, his fans and his doubters, “I’m coming back. Don’t worry, I’m coming back.”
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