After more than seven months of uncertainty, it appears that UFC heavyweight competitor Stefan Struve has been cleared by his doctors to return to MMA.
Struve, 26, was diagnosed last August with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart that many assumed would end his fighting career permanently. He is expected to have surgery in the future to permanently rectify the issue, and is currently on medication to bring down his blood pressure.
"The chamber where the aortic valve is connected is the left chamber of your heart, and that chamber was a lot bigger than it was supposed to be," Struve told USA Today. "A lot of that was the high blood pressure. Now they treated me for it with blood pressure medicine, and it got smaller. Because of that, the opening where the valve is got smaller, too. Normally, when the chamber gets bigger, like often happens with athletes, the valve gets bigger, too, so that it closes. But in my case, the opening got bigger and the valve didn't grow, so the leakage got worse and worse. But now, it's smaller again and the valve closes better."
The 6"11 Struve has returned to regular training and is confident that he will have no issues dialing up the intensity during training camp.
Struve's manager, Lex McMahon, spoke to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour yesterday to confirm the news, and said that Struve will likely be brought out for a second opinion.
"He [Struve] was actually cleared by his doctor in the Netherlands, and we are just waiting for a copy of his file to be translated so that the UFC can have their doctor take a look at it." McMahon said. "They will determine whether to have Stefan brought out for a second opinion. If they do bring him out for a second opinion that will likely be in Los Angeles where the UFC's cardiologist is.
The UFC has been great. They are very anxious to get Stefan back in the octagon. I have had a lot of conversations with Dana, Lorenzo and Joe Silva about Stefan and they have been extremely supportive. "
While the towering Dutchman will need an second opinion before it is made official, McMahon added that he believes that Struve will be back in the octagon this summer.
"I think are very close. We don't have an opponent or a date yet, but we will likely see Stefan back during the summer, that's my guess."
Struve is currently in the United Arab Emirates, where he is a guest fighter promoting Friday's "UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Nelson" event in Abu Dhabi.