In August, news broke that UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve had been diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. Many thought that this condition would end the young Dutchman's mixed martial arts (MMA) career and pretty much wrote him off as retired.
It also didn't help that he suffered four knockout/technical knockout losses under the ZUFFA banner.
After a brief stint in the hospital, Struve's physicians suggested he take medication for two months and then visit with them again in early October to decide the next course of action.
Maybe Dan Hardy should look them up.
Well here we are, and here's the progress. Struve met with his doctors last Wednesday. His manager, Lex McMahon, provided MMAfighting with an update on his client's condition:
"Doctors informed Stefan that the leakage back into his heart has been greatly reduced. Additionally, his heart is not as enlarged as it was, but since it is still enlarged, they are attributing it to a condition called 'Sport Heart' or 'Athletic Heart Syndrome,' which is fairly common in athletes who train rigorously for more than one hour per day and is generally considered benign. Stefan's doctors have cleared him to return to training so they can evaluate how he responds over the next several months. At this time the doctors are suggesting that he continue with the medicine and do not recommend surgery."
One can't help but be happy for the young "Skyscraper." His style of fighting has lead to him being on the highlight reel regardless of whether he wins or loses and has endeared him to numerous fans.
Personally, I'm hoping he's used this time off to shore up the holes in his defensive game while working to utilize his gargantuan reach more. Like I said, his style is fun to watch, but he's been brutally stopped four times in UFC (five overall) and has gone through a couple wars that he's won (think Paul Buentello folding him like a lawn chair, Denis Stojnic gashing his head and Christian Morecraft opening a trench on his mouth).
Let's not forget his jawbreaker in a losing effort against Mark Hunt.
That's a lot of punishment for a 25-year old to have gone through, and for his sake -- especially fighting at heavyweight -- I truly hope he evolves as a fighter who can avoid the massive punishment he has put his brain through. He'll need to if he wants to fulfill this lofty goal.
If not, Struve could have to answer to this critic (again).