Stefan Struve showing positive signs of recovery, hopes to fight in 2014

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Signs are looking up for UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve. The 25-year-old, who was hospitalized in mid-August with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart, has made significant strides towards reclaiming the young fighting career he was forced to abandon.

According the fighter's manager, Lex McMahon, the size of Struve's heart has shrunk over the past few months while the leakage has decreased significantly due to a positive response from treatment, allowing Struve to officially be cleared to return to training at 80-percent, according to a report on UFC Tonight.

Struve's next follow-up appointment is scheduled for January 2, 2014, after which, if doctors determine that his heart hasn't increased in size and no additional fluid is leaking, he will be cleared to return to training 100-percent. In which case, Struve will undergo one final evaluation six weeks later, followed by a second opinion in Los Angeles, CA, before filing for licensure from a state athletic commission.

Best case scenario, Struve (25-6) hopes to return to the Octagon by mid to late Spring 2014.

Even at his young age, Struve holds an extensive 9-4 record over the course of 13 professional UFC appearances, as well as five post-fight bonuses. He most recently lost via third-round TKO to Mark Hunt in early March, snapping a prior four-fight win streak which included victories over Stipe Miocic and Pat Barry.

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