UFC Heavyweight Struve Retires, Cites Need to Listen to His Body

Stefan Struve UFC
Stefan Struve UFC DC weigh-in Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Soon to be 33-year old Stefan Struve is retiring from MMA. The UFC heavyweight, active since 2005 with over 40 fights, made the announcement Monday, citing ongoing medical issues as the deciding factor in hanging up the gloves.

I wanted to make an announcement before the news came out a different way. I was contacted by the UFC last week for a fight. However, I’ve decided it’s time to retire from fighting. 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. I’ve had an inner ear issue that 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 was that it was most likely BPPV [Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo].

Because of this I have been dealing with major 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 keep going and ignore it until it was really gone completely. Unfortunately during the 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 really. After that fight I was having more issues again and the doctors scheduled more 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 doing my everyday things and/or training on a normal level, to be healthy and in shape. The extreme intensity I have to put my body through in training camp to get ready for fights I can’t do anymore though. At this juncture I realize that it’s time to hang up the gloves for good, and put my health and family first. I’ve had a long career and have battled through multiple injuries and health conditions, including a broken jaw and the heart condition. Pushing forward and training hard and fighting without listening to my body would be asking for real trouble in my opinion.

I am truly appreciative of my career and the treatment I’ve had with the UFC. Everybody in the organization has always been amazing to me, so it is bittersweet to retire, but I also look forward to what the future holds for me and starting something new. I have to put my health first now, especially now that I’m a father to my 5 month old son Tobi, with whom his mom and I have been able to spend all the time in the world recently, which I’m very thankful for. I want to thank all my coaches, my manager, training partners and everybody else who has been part of my career throughout the years. To all the fight fans, even though sometimes I had to dig really deep I had a lot of fun over the years. It was an honor to fight for you.

Struve finishes his career with a record of 33-13, including wins over Bigfoot Silva, Big Nog, Pat Barry, and current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. The towering Dutch fighter made his debut in the UFC way back in 2009, and won eight post-fight bonuses during his tenure with the company.

However, health struggles hampered “The Skyscraper.” Struve’s jaw was broken in his 2013 loss to Mark Hunt. That injury cost him over a year of his career. During that time, he was also diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve. In 2019, following his last victory, over Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Struve hinted at retirement. However, he ultimately returned for two more fights, against Ben Rothwell and Tai Tuivasa, losing both.