After a year on the sidelines, Stefan Struve is back and excited to show fans that he ages like fine wine and gets better with the added years.
The longtime UFC heavyweight competitor has been away from the cage for an extended period of time dealing with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart, which means that he was only pumping about 70% of the necessary blood his body needed. It is an issue that could have led to some dire complications and forced Struve on the sidelines until it could be dealt with.
"The thing is I never really felt much until the fight with Hunt," Struve told FOX Sports. "I never really thought it would be something wrong with the heart. The fight with Hunt, I was sick, and when you get sick with this condition then that together that's just killer. My heart was functioning at like 60-percent around that time," Struve revealed. "When you get sick and your body needs to deal with a virus and the heart leakage, it gets really tough for you."
Apart from handling his own health concerns, Struve was also dealing with the death of his father.
"It's crazy because I should have been focused on myself of course with the recovery, but his illness took away a lot of the attention from what I had, and maybe in one way that's good because I wasn't thinking of it too much, stressing out about it too much and maybe about my dad. It's been a really crazy year for me."
While heart failure was always a very real possibility, Struve eventually recovered and was cleared by both his personal doctors in the Netherlands and the UFC's doctors to fight again. Now he intends on picking up where he left off and forcing himself into the upper echelon of the heavyweight division.
"I can't wait to get back in there healthy and show how good I really am because in my opinion, I should not have lost that last fight. I should have been on a five-fight win streak now. I want to pick up where I left when I beat (Stipe) Miocic. I want to continue my streak. Really in my opinion, I should be able walk through everybody up until the top five and I should be able to be competitive in the top five and win fights there, too. My best years are coming up. I've been in the UFC since my early 20's so far, and heavyweights don't peak until they're 30 or in their 30's so my best years are coming up."
UFC 175 takes place July 5th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.