Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve has been medically cleared to resume training, and his return now hinges on the UFC's approval.
Speaking with MMAjunkie's John Morgan in Abu Dhabi ahead of UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Nelson, Struve said the heart condition that led to his extended layoff from action is under control and that doctors have given him the green light to proceed with his career.
"I’m just working on the last details with the UFC right now for my clearance," Struve said, per Morgan. "They’ve got everything — my doctor’s letter, medical files and everything. Everything is there, and we’re just waiting on the UFC to do their thing."
While Struve told Morgan he expects to have surgery at some point to fully correct his condition, doctors stabilized the issue by lowering the 7-footer's blood pressure with medicine. Explaining the process and situation a bit further, Struve told Morgan:
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. 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.
Hearing it explained in such depth certainly illustrates the severity of Struve's situation, and one cannot exercise enough caution when dealing with an issue such as this one. For a professional athlete who subjects his body to extreme physical stress on a regular basis, Struve's predicament is nothing to take lightly.
Struve understands the necessary precautions holding him back at the moment, but his fighter's mentality remains fully intact, and he can't help but think about his return to combat.
“I want to fight,” Struve told Morgan. “I’m ready to go into a training camp. I can be ready in two or three months.”
Amazing news that Stefan Struve is returning to the Octagon. Extremely exciting fighter. Wonder who UFC will pair him up w/ in his return...— Adam Martin (@MMAdamMartin) April 8, 2014
To that end, Struve mentioned that since correcting the issue, he's felt better than ever. In his most recent fights, Struve told Morgan that his body was only functioning at "60 or 70 percent" of its full capacity, so when he does return to the Octagon, we can expect to see the best edition of the Skyscraper we have seen to date.
Struve currently sits at the No. 13 spot on the UFC's official heavyweight rankings, and he boasts a 9-4 record inside the Octagon, including a signature win over the current No. 7 heavyweight standout Stipe Miocic.
While he was originally billed as a traditional Dutch kickboxer when he made his UFC debut at UFC 95 against Juinor dos Santos, Struve has since shown off a well-rounded game, earning four of his nine victories by submission and four by knockout.
His lone decision victory came against Paul Buentello at UFC 107.
On the flip side, all four of Struve's UFC losses came via knockout. His propensity for finishing or being finished earned him a reputation as one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, and his return to the cage will undoubtedly be met with eager anticipation from fans and critics alike.
Provided everything goes smoothly with his reintegration to the UFC's heavyweight roster, who would you like to see Struve face in his Octagon return?
UPDATE: Struve has now tweeted this update, stating that, while he has been cleared, there still are "a couple last things to take care of."
Reading lots that I'm already cleared. My doc in Holland cleared me but still a couple last things to take care off, so fingers crossed..— Stefan Struve (@StefanStruve) April 8, 2014