UFC 175 was supposed to be Stefan Struve's triumphant return to the Octagon, but ultimately didn't get that chance.
The No. 12-ranked heavyweight contender fainted backstage prior to his fight. Checked out by the medical staff, Struve was determined to have an elevated heart rate, and the UFC made the decision to scratch the bout. The health of the fighters comes first.
Struve had been out of action since March 2013 following reports that he had a leaking aortic valve and enlarged heart. With an elevated heart rate Saturday night, it made the decision to cancel the bout easy.
The "Skyscraper" had worked hard to get back into fight shape, and once he was medically cleared, the UFC quickly booked him to fight Matt Mitrione on the UFC 175 card. It was a highly anticipated bout due to Struve's comeback, and what implications it had on the heavyweight rankings.
Struve vs. Mitrione was slated to be the third bout on the main card.
UFC president Dana White spoke to the media on the floor at UFC 175 and suggested that Struve is believed to have suffered a panic attack, and they sent him to the hospital for precautionary reasons, according to Mike Chiappetta of Fox Sports:
The UFC released an official statement on the matter:
Stefan Struve suffered a non-life-threatening, near-fainting spell backstage. Afterwards, the medical team did not feel he was fit to compete. With his health and safety in mind, he’s been removed from the card and is currently under the care of the medical staff. We will provide further updates as they become available.
Mitrione also issued a brief statement in regard to Struve and the canceled bout:
"I found out what happened and went to talk to Stefan. He was still in his chair and was very apologetic. He’s such a competitor. Obviously health and safety come first."
There is no further word on Struve's heart condition, or what is next for him or Mitrione. One can only hope that this is nothing serious, and we will see Struve back competing sooner rather than later.