UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve has faced some scary situations in his life. After all, as one of the elite big men in Mixed Martial Arts, he’s gone one-on-one with dangerous draws like Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson, Travis Browne, and Junior dos Santos. However, no foe he’s faced in the Octagon can compete with the battle Struve is about to wage within himself.
According to a report from UFC Tonight, the 25-year old has been diagnosed with a career-threatening condition involving a leaking aortic valve and enlarged heart. He is expected to take medication in an attempt to treat it over the next couple of months but will need to undergo open-heart surgery if the process is unsuccessful. As a result, unfortunately, fans may have seen “The Skyscraper” scrap for the last time.
A comment from Struve’s manager relayed the fighter’s desire to overcome the adversity in front of him and eventually resume his livelihood, though clearly his first priority is simply getting healthy first.
Struve has compiled a 25-6 record in his career with the impressive distinction of finishing all but two of the opponents he’s beaten. He has been out of action since suffering a broken jaw in a March loss to Hunt also snapping a four-fight winning streak for the seven-foot Dutchman.
The full statement from Struve’s manager can be read below courtesy of MMAFighting:
“Stefan Struve has recently been diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart and was hospitalized for a week to undergo testing to determine the best course of treatment. The doctors found that Stefan has a bicuspid aortic valve, wich means that his aortic valve only has two leaflets, instead of three.
The aortic valve regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta, the major blood vessel that brings blood to the body. In combination with the enlarged heart it causes his heart to only pump 70 percent of the blood into the aorta and then the rest of his body, and the remaining 30 percent ends up back in the heart chamber. After consulting experts in both Holland and the United States, it was decided to treat the condition with medication for the next two months and asses the effectiveness of that treatment protocol. After those 2 months, the doctors will have an answer on what the best treatment options are.
At the direction of his doctors, Stefan has now been released from the hospital and has resumed light cardiovascular exercise. Stefan fully appreciates the significance of the condition he has been diagnosed with, however, he is optimistic about the eventual outcome and fully plans on living a long, healthy, active, happy life and eventually returning to competition in the octagon for his quest to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Stefan loves the UFC and plans on being involved with company as a fighter and ambassador for years to come. Stefan wants to thank all the fans who have supported him thus far in his career as well as the UFC, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, Joe Silva, Dr. Jeff Davidson, the entire staff of the UFC, and his fellow fighters for affording him the opportunity to compete on the biggest stage of the sport of MMA, as well as a tremendous degree of support during this trying time. In particular Stefan wants to thank Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, & Joe Silva for immediately getting engaged with this issue and providing Stefan access to the best possible medical care. Stefan will be sharing his experiences as he deals with this medical condition in the hopes that he can serve as a role model by helping to create awareness and inspire others to fight through adversity.”