Stefan Struve was declared unfit to compete at UFC 175. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
LAS VEGAS -- The health, safety and well-being of fighters outside the cage are of far greater importance than the status of their next bouts. Still, some members of the media wanted to press Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White on the future of heavyweight Stefan Struve following his purported panic attack and subsequent withdrawal from UFC 175 on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The 7-foot Dutchman was supposed to return to the Octagon for the first time since a March 2013 loss to Mark Hunt in Japan, after which he was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and enlarged heart. Medicine was used to reduce Struve’s blood pressure and he was eventually cleared to train again, although surgery to repair the defect remains likely at some point later in his life.
Paired with fellow heavyweight Mitt Mitrione for what was supposed to be the third fight on the UFC 175 main card, Struve suffered some sort of a panic attack in the locker room, leading to the fight’s cancellation. Although early reports circulated in the arena that he had fainted, those turned out to be not entirely true according to the UFC’s doctor.
“He had some palpitations,” Dr. Jeffery Davidson said. “His heart felt like it was moving quick. Stefan had a near-fainting spell.”
Initially, the UFC offered a statement that read in part, “The medical team did not feel he was fit to compete. With his health and safety in mind, he’s been removed from the card and is currently under the care of the medical staff.” Mitrione also said he briefly spoke with Struve, who was “very apologetic.” Both fighters will be paid their show and win bonus money due to the fight being cancelled for medical-related reasons.
Later, White shared what little information he had before speaking about Struve’s potential fighting future.
“Every specialist and doctor has cleared him and checked him out, and the commission approved him,” White said. “I guess tonight he had something like a panic attack. He started hyperventilating. He almost blacked out. His blood pressure dropped. It’s just one of those weird things. I’m just glad he’s OK.”
Where the two parties go from here seems to rest with Struve himself.
“I think it’s something he really needs to think about,” White said. “Obviously, you meet some of these guys that love to compete so much that they overlook certain things. I think he needs to do some soul-searching.”
TOE BROKEN, DREAMS INTACT
Sometimes you just need to listen to what your boss tells you to do. It is a simple fact of life, and for Uriah Hall, it may be just the recipe he needs to vault his MMA career forward.
Deemed a killer -- and perhaps the next Anderson Silva -- while taping Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Hall was nearly doomed from the start with all the hype surrounding him. A pair of split decision losses to Kelvin Gastelum and John Howard made him look like anything but The Next Big Thing in the middleweight division.
Hall impressed fans and White at UFC 175, as he showed more aggression and fought through an gruesome injury to his toe to earn a decisive win over Thiago Santos.
“Every move,” Hall said, “I would feel my bone shift in and out of my skin.”
The injury occurred sometime late in the first round, but Hall continued to fight through the pain, even as he was clearly favoring his right foot.
“Remember when he started moving his head and just throwing punches? He was moving his head, and every punch he threw, he hit that guy with,” White said. “Keep doing that. Let your [expletive] hands go. You’re talented, you’re fast, you’re sharp and you do have a good chin. Let your hands go. Be the fighter you can be. Let it go.”
White implored the 29-year-old Hall to give more, insisting he sees something in the former Ring of Combat champion.
“I’m not a coach. I don’t train people,” White said. “I don’t tell these guys [how to fight], but I just have this different relationship with Uriah. I like the kid so much. He’s the nicest human being you could ever meet.”
There are certain names you just never expect to hear at a UFC post-fight press conference. Frank Shamrock, Bobby Southworth and Teila Tuli are just a few of them, all for different reasons. Yet when the name Kazushi Sakuraba comes up, it is always a welcome surprise for longtime MMA followers. Such was the case when Urijah Faber was told that his rear-naked choke on Alex Caceres tied him with the most combined submissions in the UFC, Pride Fighting Championships, Strikeforce and World Extreme Cagefighting.
“Really? That’s pretty cool,” a stunned Faber said.
“Sakuraba is one of my favorite fighters of all-time. That’s sweet. It motivates me to want to submit a bunch more people. Who’s next?”
Faber also addressed the fact that one of his Team Alpha Male stablemates, T.J. Dillashaw, is now the champion of the division in which he competes. Dillashaw’s rise has forced “The California Kid” to rethink his plans at 135 pounds.
“I’ve made my goals a lot shorter; it’s about having my best performance every single fight,” Faber said. “There are a lot of things that are unknown in our weight class. I know that I’m going to go out there and win every fight that is put in front of me. I don’t necessarily want that fight.”
Translation: Do not expect to see a Dillashaw-Faber matchup at an arena near you anytime soon.
“I do this because I love it, not because of anything else,” Faber said. “I don’t think I’d love fighting T.J.”
Middleweight champion Chris Weidman and main event challenger Lyoto Machida each earned $50,000 bonuses for “Fight of the Night,” while UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Team Sityodtong’s Rob Font walked away with $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonuses for their wins over Alexis Davis and George Roop ... White talked as if Vitor Belfort was the preferred next opponent for Weidman at the post-fight press conference. However, he also noted that the Brazilian needed to clear up his issues with the Nevada Athletic Commission before any future fight can be booked. “Let’s see what happens with Vitor, if this guy can get his business handled,” White said ... The UFC boss also addressed the possibility of signing former Strikeforce champion Cristiane Justino. “You guys want me to sign her? Is that what you’re saying? So you guys in the media are telling me I should sign Cyborg? I just don’t want to hear your bulls--- if I do.” White was quick to point out that “Cyborg” had already turned down the UFC once previously. “Just so you know, when we bought Strikeforce, we offered her the same exact deal that we offered Ronda, and they turned it down. They turned the deal down. That’s what happened when we tried to sign her. Listen, there are certain things to do if you really want to fight in the UFC and you want to fight for the title. There’s ways to get that done. There’s ways to do it. You sit there and you listen to [Rousey] talk and the s--- she says and the things she’s willing to do, that she’s willing to fight back-to-back and all this. Her and Cyborg aren’t on the same level mentally, as athletes or any other thing,” he said.
UFC 175 “Weidman vs. Machida” drew an announced attendance of 10,088 and a live gate of $4.4 million.