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Stefan Struve explains his decision to retire after UFC Prague

MMA: UFC 222-Struve vs Arlovski Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night in Prague, Stefan Struve snapped a three fight losing streak with an arm triangle submission over Marcos Rogerio de Lima (watch the finish here). It was a come from behind win in front of a Struve-friendly European crowd, and Struve made it all the more special when he basically retired in the ring afterward.

”This is something I’ve thought over a whole lot,” he said before bringing up the heart condition that almost ended his career years ago. “I think everyone is aware my heart is not one hundred percent. When I made my comeback I told myself I wanna have about five years. I’ve been fighting a little longer since then. My heart is good, but there’s a very good opportunity that this is my last fight so thank you very much.”

Struve sounded much more definitive on it being his retirement performance at the post fight press conference.

”I’m happy I never have to feel that tension again before the fight,” he said. “And that only got worse after knowing about my heart. It was very hard to come back, but I’m not someone who shies away from a challenge.”

In 2013 doctors told Struve he had an enlarged heart with a leaking aortic valve. There were fears the condition would end his career, but a year later Struve made it back into the cage. He went 4-5 over the next five years, and while we’ll always lament Struve’s inability to effectively harness his insane reach, the fact that he kept competing after that initial diagnosis says a lot about ... well, about his heart.

“If you look at it, I shouldn’t be fighting the best athletes in the world,” Struve said. “Normally it’s found when people are very young. You go to a doctor, and they hear a murmur, and then you have it checked out and you’re on medication for your whole life, and you shouldn’t do anything dangerous, because you have a heart disease. They didn’t find it in me until I was 24, 25.”

“At that point I didn’t want to retire, I wasn’t ready, everything was great. I got checked up every 6 months and that’s enough to see how it’s progressing. And now that I don’t have to train as a professional athlete any more, I’m always gonna be training, but now I’m going to be able to focus even more on keeping my heart healthy and I think it’s only going to be good for it.”

”I thought about it a lot,” Struve said about the decision to retire. “The first I started thinking about retiring when the situation with the heart came up, but I didn’t want to at that point, I really didn’t want to. Of course it was an option, especially at the beginning when we didn’t know what was going on. Then I made my comeback and got on a streak again, fought Alexander Volkov in Rotterdam, and Stipe was the champ at that point and I’m one of the few guys that had a great win over him. So my thought was I knock [Volkov] out in Rotterdam then maybe the shot comes.”

Unfortunately for Struve, Volkov won the fight by TKO in the third round, the first loss in what would become the aforementioned three fight skid.

”I always wanted to fight for the UFC title,” Struve said. “And before I signed with the UFC I believed I was going to be a champion. Unfortunately I didn’t get to do that, but I had a great career anyways. Only happiness. I discussed it the last couple of years with coaches and friends and talked about it. Like everybody, I wanted to end it on a good note, with a win. Unfortunately after getting on a streak, I ended on a losing streak and it just didn’t feel right. And now it does.”

”I would love to stay attached to the UFC in some way,” he finished. “I’ve been with them for 10 years, I had a great career with them. I’m gonna teach for sure, I’ve got so much knowledge to share. MMA is still very fresh in Holland, I think there’s a lot of growth to be done and it’d be awesome if I could have a part of that.”

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