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


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


“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.”

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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


“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.”