UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve’s story is one of perseverance. The seven-foot-tall Ditch fighter made his promotional debut three days after turning 21 at UFC 95 in 2009. He’s put together a 9-4 record inside the Octagon, and his four losses have been to top ten-ranked competition.
After being diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart in August 2013, the 26-year-old’s aspirations of becoming a UFC champion were seemingly dashed. He refused to accept that possibility and never wavered from his belief that he’d someday return to fighting.
Struve overcame the odds and was cleared by doctors in April to fight again. The top fifteen-ranked heavyweight was offered a fight against Matt Mitrione at UFC 175 and was medically cleared by the Nevada Athletic Commission. They officially made weight on Independence Day for the July 5 event.
While warming up prior to the fight, Struve suffered a panic attack and became light headed. His blood pressure dropped and his return bout was nixed from the card just before the broadcast went live on pay-per-view.
The good news is that Struve is healthy. The incident wasn’t heart related.
“Stefan is okay as far as I know. Everything is good. He wants to fight. He wants to sit down and talk,” said UFC president Dana White while in Dublin for UFC Fight Night 46 on July 19. “He’s been cleared to fight. It wasn’t his physical; it was his mental that night I think.”
The bad news is, Struve could be a liability to a future fight card. A fight dropping off the main card moments before a broadcast is a nightmare scenario for a promotion.
While White is fond of the one-time heavyweight contender, he’s concerned about giving him another fight.
“I love Stefan Struve. I love the kid,” said White. “He had this issue, and I’m sure he’s nervous about his health. So we’ll see. He can’t do that again. That can’t happen again.”