UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve was forced to take a leave of absence from competition in 2013 after a scary heart condition diagnosis. Yet, through it all, the big man never gave up hope that he would return.
Slowly, with treatment, his condition and health began to improve until, by the start of 2014, Struve reached the point where he fully expected to eventually make a return to fighting. Today, the seven foot slugger says he's medically cleared to fight once more.
“I’m just working on the last details with the UFC right now for my clearance,” Struve told USA TODAY.
“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."
Once the UFC does their thing, Struve said that he is ready to head into a training camp immediately.
“I want to fight,” Struve insisted.
“I’m ready to go into a training camp. I can be ready in two or three months.”
Struve expects to need surgery one day but hopes that less traumatic treatment will suffice for awhile.
“The chamber where the aortic valve is connected is the left chamber of your heart, and that chamber was a lot bigger than it was supposed to be,” Struve said of his condition.
“A lot of that was the high blood pressure. Now they treated me for it with blood pressure medicine, and it got smaller.
“Because of that, the opening where the valve is got smaller, too. Normally, when the chamber gets bigger, like often happens with athletes, the valve gets bigger, too, so that it closes. “
But in my case, the opening got bigger and the valve didn’t grow, so the leakage got worse and worse. But now, it’s smaller again and the valve closes better.”
For Struve, nothing can cure his heartache like stepping back into the UFC Octagon. The twenty six year old is eager to pick up where he left off.
“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," he concluded.
"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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