UFC heavyweight Stefan Stuve appeared recently on the Anik and Florian podcast and looked back, at the tremendous medical issues he has overcome, and forward, to his fight with Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 87 on Sunday.
Early in 2013, Struve was on a four-fight win streak in a division that is ferociously streak free. He has gone just 1-3 since. He fought Mark Hunt, who broke his jaw. Then he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and received treatment. A year later he returned, vs. Matt Mitrione, but blacked out backstage, and the fight was canceled. When he finally returned, Alistair Overeem knocked him out in the first. Then took a decision over a very faded Big Nog, and lost a decision to Jared Rosholt.
“Everything kind of fell apart for me after the fight with Stipe,” said Struve, as transcribed byJed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “In my opinion, the fight with Mark [Hunt], I lost that one because my heart condition was at its worst at that point and I was pretty sick before the fight. That together just led to my body quitting on me in the fight.
“To be honest with you guys that was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome in my training. I never really worry about fighting. But in the fight with Alistair Overeem, not so much in the fight with Noguiera because I got going, but also in the fight with Rosholt I had trouble finding my rhythm and I was constantly thinking about ‘should I hit the gas now or should I just wait until the second round? You don’t want to get tired like that fight with Hunt where your body gave up.’ I never really got super tired in that fight because my conditioning is good and we always make sure I’m in tip top shape. But that fight with Hunt, my body just quit on me and I had to hang on for like ten minutes and wasn’t able to do much and he was just battering me, beating me.
“How my body felt that fight was such a scary experience. That was the biggest hurdle to overcome, to be able to hit the gas in the fight and start hunting immediately and that’s exactly what I did this training camp so that makes me feel really good.”
“One of the things my coaches really wanted to see more in this training camp was aggression. I was doing my thing the last couple training camps but when I would have a guy up against the fence or in a bad spot I would take my foot off the pedal and let them get back into the sparring or the fight, whatever you want to call it. And this time they were like, ‘if you get someone up against the cage we want to see you finish it…We want to see more aggression we want to see you be focused on finishing the fight.’ I dropped a ton of guys in sparring and it’s definitely going to pay off this Sunday. It’s going to translate perfectly to the fight in my opinion.”
“I feel really good. I think I’m faster. If I fight with my reach and get my jab going and my teep going then he’s in for a hard night and I’m going to drop him….I’m walking around at 275. My gas tank feels great. Everything is there you know. When I entered the UFC I was 230 pounds. I feel so strong and dominated in sparring so much, I couldn’t be more ready for this fight to put on the best performance in front of my family and friends.”
“I’m 28. I still feel like I’m a kid. I still have such a long road ahead of me. … this is the heavyweight division, a lot can happen fast.”