In August, UFC heavyweight contender Stephan Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. The condition was congenital, and it had little effect on his performance, but at 25, his future in MMA was very much thrown into doubt.
"I honestly don't think he ever will [fight again]," UFC president Dana White at the time. "He's got a rip in his heart. And you know, it's one of those freak things that happen to people, and I love the kid. The kid's got, no pun intended, but he's got unbelievable heart. He's tough as nails. He's the nicest guy in the world, and we're going to do everything in our power to help him through this thing."
Struve maintained a positive attitude throughout the ordeal. He followed a recommended medical course of action, taking medication for two months, and then reassessing. In October he was told he could return to training.
Now his medical team has cleared him to return to competition, and he is ready to schedule his next fight.
And he says he will be even better than before.
“I’m just working on the last details with the UFC right now for my clearance,” said Struve. “They’ve got everything — my doctor’s letter, medical files and everything. Everything is there, and we’re just waiting on the UFC to do their thing.”
“I want to fight. I’m ready to go into a training camp. I can be ready in two or three months.”
“Skyscraper" has resumed a regular training regimen and is excited to turn up the intensity. And perhaps most important, Struve believes with his condition treated, he’ll actually be better when he returns than he was before the diagnosis.
“My body was only functioning at 60 or 70 percent. Because of that, my body was way more prone to viruses and all that, so I got sick a lot. It was horrible. But I’m back.
“I left a year behind me that was the most difficult year of my life, but now I’m here. I’m back, and I want to fight. I want to show that I’m one of the best heavyweights in the world. I really feel like I’ve got another shot at all of this and I’m better than I’ve ever been.”
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