Struve out with heart condition

When we last saw UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve, he was knocked
out by a jaw-shattering Mark Hunt left hook in March, a defeat that
halted his four-fight win streak and put him on the shelf to
recover. That injury has healed, but unfortunately, Struve’s
return to the octagon is still on an indefinite hold due to health
concerns. During recent medical exams, the 7-foot Dutchman was
diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart,
conditions that could jeopardize his career.

The news was first reported on Tuesday’s edition of UFC
Tonight.

Struve’s manager Lex McMahon told FOX Sports that the problems
will be treated by medication for the next two months, and
afterward, an assessment will be made as to the protocol’s
effectiveness.

“The first and foremost issue is certainly Stefan’s
health,” McMahon said. “The decisions that are being made are
holistic in nature, meaning obviously we’re concerned for his
health first. And secondarily, once we know we’ve answered
the question of what’s best for his health, it’s, Can he
continue with his career? We’re all focused and hopeful that
he absolutely will. Until he’s told that he can’t, he’s still a UFC
fighter and he’s still moving forward in that line.”

McMahon said the concern began after the 25-year-old Struve had
been feeling lethargic and short on energy.

On Wednesday, July 24, at about 4 a.m. in Seattle, where McMahon
was staying prior to the UFC on FOX show in town, he received a
call from Struve and his coach Bob Schrijber to inform him Struve
had been hospitalized. It turned into a one-week stay until the
diagnosis was made.

During tests, doctors discovered his aortic valve had only two
leaflets instead of three. Coupled with his enlarged heart, it
causes his system to pump only 70 percent of blood into his aorta
and eventually the rest of his body, while the remaining 30 percent
returns to the heart chamber.

His medication will attempt to reduce the size of his heart in
hopes of addressing the leaky valve.

“As one would expect he’s run the gamut of emotions,”
McMahon said. “First, very distraught upon receiving the news. A
bit of denial. Why me? I’m so young. But also you’ve seen the
Stefan Struve character shine through. Very positive. He’s
determined to beat this and resume his career and live a long and
healthy life. He’s focused on not only getting back to the UFC but
becoming UFC champion. That’s his goal. His outlook and frame of
mind is determined and very positive.”

Currently, doctors are allowing him to do cardiovascular
workouts at up to about 80 percent of his peak levels, but
he’ll refrain from sparring and hard training for the
foreseeable future.

Struve (25-6 overall, 9-4 in the UFC) had targeted a December
fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and while a return timetable
cannot be generated, that’s still the hope if and when he
returns.

“His plan is to get past this and see where the heavyweight
division is,” McMahon said. “If Big Nog is still a viable
opportunity, I think he’d love that, otherwise we’ll see where we
are. He has to battle his health issues first, and we’ll take the
rest from there.”