Stefan Struve eyes spring 2014 return to UFC following drastic reduction in heart's leaking aortic valve

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Good news "Skyscraper" fans, Stefan Struve may be able to return to the UFC Octagon sooner, rather than later.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight contender Stefan Struve's mixed martial arts (MMA) career was put on hold after it was discovered that he had an enlarged heart and leaking aortic valve early last year.

It was even feared that "Skyscraper" wouldn't be able to compete inside the Octagon ever again. But a resilient Struve was determined to not give up his combat sports career without a fight.

And according to the towering Swede -- who appeared on "The MMA Hour" earlier today (Jan. 13, 2014) -- the leaking in his heart has gone down drastically and if he wanted clearance to fight, his attending physician would do so immediately.

Struve's words:

"Everything went really well. Everything was where the doctor wanted it to be. 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.'"

Good news, indeed.

Struve attributed the loss -- and jacked jaw -- he suffered at the hands of Mark Hunt at UFC on FUEL TV 8 last March to his condition, saying he had no energy during the bout and was fighting just to stand upright.

But according to Stefan, he recently went through five-round sparring sessions and felt great with no fatigue issues.

In addition, Struve says that he has one more appointment with his doctor in the Netherlands -- whom he tagged as "one of the best heart doctors in the country" -- in six weeks to evaluate his progress. After that, "Skyscraper" will fly to Los Angeles, California, to get a second opinion.

If all goes well and his subsequent medicals prove to be good, then he can return to the Octagon in as early as four months.

Any of you Maniacs care to throw out some potential opponents for Struve's return to action? Assuming an athletic commission clears him to compete with his existing condition, that is.

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