Struve Looks to Find His Groove Against Mittrione
After taking more than a year off the Octagon because of a severe heart condition, heavyweight Dutch mixed martial artist Stefan Struve returns to the Octagon to face Matt Mittrione in one of the undercards of UFC 175 on Saturday July 5th.
After suffering a heartbreaking 3rd round KO loss to Mark Hunt March 3rd, 2013, Struve has been out of action for having an enlarged heart and a bicuspid aortic valve. The aorta pumps blood to the whole body and normally the aorta has three valves. Struve was born with just two. As a result, when his heart pumps blood, not all of it is distributed to his entire body and in Struve’s case only 70% of the blood was sent out to his body parts. The rest of the blood “leaks” back in.
The condition was said to have limited Struve to compete at around 50% of his maximum capacity all throughout his career. But he had been winning and competing at a high level even with that silent killer. Struve never felt anything until the Mark Hunt bout.
He said he was sick during the bout, so it was normal that he looked tired and fatigue. It was only after the bout when Struve finally went to get himself checked by his doctors. He had been suffering from dizzy spells at home and after training. There was one time when he experience a 15 second blackout in his parent’s house, but it wasn’t until the stress test and ultrasound that finally revealed the condition.
While Struve was relieved that it was finally diagnosed, he was heart-broken because he knew he’d be out of the Octagon, and possibly permanently out of fighting.
Other Side of The Coin
But looking at the other side of the coin, Struve realized how much he’s achieved in his MMA career with his” heart functioning at around 50-60%.” For him to accomplish what he has with that heart condition is impressive.
Struve has a record of 25-6 with 7 KOs and 16 submissions. In the UFC, Struve is 9-3 with his losses coming from Junior Dos Santos, Travis Brown and Mark Hunt. Five of those wins have been won post-fight bonuses. Before he lost to Hunt, Struve had the biggest win of his career against Stipe Miocic in September of 2012. Struve knocked out the 7th ranked Miocic at the 3:50 mark of Round 2 to earn fight of the night honors.
Pick Up Where He Left Off
Struve hopes to pick up from where he left off after beating Miocic. He has a good chance to do that now that his heart is reportedly functioning at a 90% rate. Struve said that even with the heart condition, one of his main weapons was his conditioning- he had the ability to step it up a notch after each round passed. Against Mittrione, he’ll have more than what he’s ever had.
Struve believes that at 26, his best years are coming up. He believes that UFC heavyweight peak in their 30’s and that he going there now. He feels that he can walk through all the heavyweight contenders from #6 down. Struve says that he can definitely be at par and compete with the Top 5 in the Heavyweight division but knows that he must start all over again.
The first step will be on Saturday against Matt Mittrione.
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