Stefan Struve announced his retirement on Monday after a 42-fight professional career that began in 2005.
The 7-foot Dutchman revealed his decision on social media, citing an ear condition that worsened when he was hit during a recent UFC bout. Struve has dealt with vertigo, hearing loss and a ringing noise in his ear as a result of the condition, which is permanent but doesn’t affect his day-to-day life when he’s not training for a fight. Struve said he elected to call it a career after the UFC recently reached out to offer him a fight.
“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 previously considered retirement following a submission victory over Marcos Rogerio de Lima in February 2019 but ultimately returned for two more bouts, suffering KO/TKO defeats against Ben Rothwell and most recently, to Tai Tuivasa this past October.
Struve, who turns 33 this week, exits the sport with a 29-13 career mark that includes triumphs over the likes of Stipe Miocic, Antonio Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Pat Barry and Paul Buentello. The Team Schrijber representative went on hiatus in 2013 after being diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. He returned a little more than a year later at UFC on Fox 13, where he suffered a first-round KO loss against Alistair Overeem. Struve also suffered a broken jaw in a knockout loss to Mark Hunt in March 2013.
His greatest success came early in his UFC tenure, when he was victorious in nine of his first 12 Octagon appearances from 2009 to 2012. Struve had fallen on hard times of late, though, and he retires having lost five of his last six bouts within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
“I am truly appreciative of the career and treatment that I’ve had in the UFC,” Struve wrote. “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 these 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.”