UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve expects return as heart condition improves

Elias Cepeda

Great news this week on the health of UFC heavyweight Stafan Struve. The giant was diagnosed last year with a rare heart condition that forced him out of fighting but as recently as October was reporting that his health was improving.

Now, the leaking in Struve's heart has been reduced so much that he tells MMA Fighting his doctor has cleared him to return to training and MMA competition.

"Everything went really well. Everything was where the doctor wanted it to be," Struve said.

"As it is right now, my heart is still bigger than the heart of a normal human being. Half of that is because I'm as tall as I am and the other because I'm an athlete and my size adapted to the size it had to be to adapt to my body. If I would have had that alone, it would be no problem. But, I was born with it and the leaking aortic valve. If you go long without being treated, then it can become a danger. The main thing you notice with this condition is your cardio output. When they first discovered it, the leakage was about 30 to 40 percent and right now it's about maybe 10 percent or less. It's really good and I asked the doctor the question: 'Right now, if you had to clear me right now for a fight, would you clear me?' And he said, 'Yeah, of course. The amount of leakage you have right now, you shouldn't be able to feel anything with it.'"

The Dutch fighter also said that he has another appointment with a heart doctor in the Netherlands in six weeks to check on his progress. Following that, Struve will get another opinion from a Los Angeles doctor.

If those check-ups go well, the "Skyscraper" may be able to return to the Octagon this year. Struve last fought and lost in March, 2013, to Mark Hunt via KO. The loss snapped a four-fight win streak for the 25 year-old.

We'll keep you posted with news on this story as it occurs.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

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