One of the UFC’s tallest and longest-tenured heavyweights could be calling it a career.
Stefan Struve put himself back on the winning track Saturday at UFC Prague with a second-round arm-triangle submission win of Marcos Rogerio de Lima, but rather than call out an opponent afterward for his next fight, the 31-year-old Dutchman announced that he was considering retirement.
If this is the last time, it's been a pleasure watching you in the Octagon, @StefanStruve! #UFCPrague pic.twitter.com/sGHn0XhpKQ— UFC (@ufc) February 23, 2019
“This is something I’ve thought over a whole lot,” Struve said. “I think everybody’s aware my heart is not 100 percent. When I made my comeback I told myself I would have about five years and I’ve been fighting a little longer since then. My heart is good, but there’s a very good opportunity that this is my last fight, so thank you very much.”
In August 2013, Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. His condition was treatable with medication and he returned to competition in December 2014, losing by knockout to Alistair Overeem. That was one of several big names Struve has stepped into the cage against along with Mark Hunt, Junior dos Santos, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Andrei Arlovski. His most memorable win was arguably a second-round TKO of future champion Stipe Miocic back in September 2012.
Saturday marked Struve’s 22nd walk to the Octagon. His 13 UFC heavyweight wins put him fourth on the all-time list behind dos Santos (14), Mir and Arlovski (16); his 11 heavyweight finishes put him in a tie for second with Arlovski and Gabriel Gonzaga behind Mir (13).
He made his UFC debut in February 2009 at UFC 95.
Though Struve symbolically left his gloves in the Octagon, he could not say for sure that this would be the last time he competed in MMA.
“I took my gloves off,” Struve said. “I’m not 100 percent sure yet, it’s not a decision I made right now. I lost my last three before this and to get a win like this, a lot of people end their careers too late. I’m gonna overthink it, so this is not 100 percent, but I feel this is a great moment so thank you all very much to all the fans. I love you. All my training partners, coaches that have been with me 16 years. Thank you all.”
He later added: “I always came to fight. I got knocked out, survived, and then submitted him. That’s one hell of a way to go out. I’ve had my wars in here. I feel like I’m good. So many guys end it too late. This is great.”