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Longtime UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve officially announces retirement citing health issues

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After a nearly 16 year career, Stefan Struve has announced his retirement from MMA competition.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old took to social media on Monday morning to make the announcement. Struve (29-13) made the decision a week after being offered his next potential fight from the UFC citing health issues.

“I was able to take my space and time the last couple of months to overthink this, so this time it really is for good,” Struve said. “I’ve had an inner ear issue I’ve been battling since May last year. I caught a viral infection that has damaged my vestibular system and the hearing nerve in my right ear. After new tests done recently we learned that the vestibular system is not working properly, the first conclusion in May was that it was most likely [Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo].

“Because of this I have also been dealing with vertigo issues, and also loss of hearing and tinnitus, a ringing noise in my ear. After I caught it in May things got a lot better, after a couple rough weeks at first. I was doing good although still experiencing some vertigo and other minor issues but my idea was, especially with the doctors telling me the issues would go away after a while, to just keep going and ignore it until it really was gone completely. Unfortunately during [my most recent] fight some of the issues came back after getting hit flush on the right ear, it was a punch that should not be an issue normally.

“After that fight I was having more issues again and the doctors scheduled new tests. Those, unfortunately for me, took a long time to happen because of the lockdown over here in the Netherlands. After these tests I was told the damage in the ear and the vestibular issues caused by the viral infection I’d been dealing with are most likely permanent. I have no big issues when I’m just doing my everyday things and, or, training on a normal level to be healthy and in shape.

“The extreme intensity I have put my body through in training camp to get ready for fights I can’t do anymore. At this juncture, I realize that it’s time to hang up the gloves for good, and my put my health and family first. I’ve had a long career and battled through multiple injuries, including a broken jaw and my heart condition. Pushing forward and training hard without listening to my body would be asking for real trouble in my opinion.”

Struve had announced his retirement previously following a second-round submission win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima in February 2019, but admitted he made that decision on emotion and ultimately returned for two more octagon appearances where he suffered stoppage losses against Ben Rothwell and, most recently at UFC 254, Tai Tuivasa.

“Skyscraper” was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve, as well an enlarged heart in 2013 and returned to action at the end of 2014 following a miraculous recovery. Struve put together a 13-11 record in his long UFC career, which included victories over Stipe Miocic, Pat Barry, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Antonio Silva.