Late last year, UFC heavyweight contender Stefan Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. The medical condition didn’t require surgery, and treatment for the medical condition has been progressing very well.
“I’ve been back in training since September. I’ve just had to run tests with the doctors. As it is, right now it’s looking really good,” Struve told Bloody Elbow in Macau, “I’m hoping to come back in a couple of months.”
The 26-year-old fighter has recently received good news from the doctors. He has been cleared to train without restrictions, making a UFC return well within his sights.
“Early summer hopefully,” Struve states as he talks about his return, “I’m in shape, so I could fight in two or three months. As it is right now, My body is functioning better than it has ever been.”
“I’ve been basically fighting at 60 to 70 percent my entire career in the UFC. So if you look at my record, 9-4, and you look at me fighting at 60 to 70 percent, then that’s pretty good in my opinion. Now I’m over 90% of heart function so I’m coming back better than ever!”
Struve has been out of competition since he fought Mark Hunt in Japan, and he gave his thoughts on the heavyweight landscape during this time away.
“Not a lot has changed since I’ve been out for a year. I don’t think anything changed to be honest with you,” Struve states, as he talks about the state of the division, “Cain Velasquez is the number 1 guy. Right now, Junior Dos Santos is the clear 2nd. Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum are going to see who is going to get the next title shot. Travis is doing really good, but Werdum is going to take him past the first round and really test him.”
“They’ve been signing a lot of new talent for the heavyweight division lately, but looking at those guys, I don’t really think there’s one guy there that is really special, that can really do something at the top 10.”
Top contenders such as Daniel Cormier have since left the division and new recruits have yet to make their mark, but there potentially is a game changing fighter that can enter the division, with Jon Jones repeatedly saying he is targeting a future move to heavyweight. While Struve more than welcomes the idea, he feels that the champion’s success at 205 will be much harder to replicate if he moves up.
“We saw what happened when he fought Gustafsson, and he didn’t have that reach advantage, right? I think it’s going to be a little different for him when he comes up to our division and fights guys that are bigger than him,” he said, “A lot will be gone. He’s still a really really good fighter, but he’s not going to be the bigger guy anymore, so it takes a way a lot from the game he has now.”
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With Struve’s imminent return, a much healthier ‘Skyscraper’ is now out to put the rest of the division on notice.
“I’m making a run, and I’m picking up where I left off when I knocked out Stipe Miocic,” he said about his immediate goals, “I’ll make a run, then fight for the belt.”
“Not a whole lot has changed since I’ve been out, but things are going to change when I’m back.”
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