Stefan (Skyscraper) Struve showed early on in his UFC career that he should never be counted out. At UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany, in June 2009, the six-foot-11 Dutch heavyweight was gushing blood out of his forehead after taking a string of hammer blows from Denis Stojnic while on his back in the first round. Stojnics forearm looked as if it had been dipped in blood. But a bloody Struve rallied in the second round to take Stojnics back and choke him out. The German crowd roared as Struve, his face a crimson mask and long torso tinged red from blood, rose in victory. "Thats one hell of a Band-Aid," UFC president Dana White said dryly, referring to a plaster the size of a cigarette package on Struves forehead at the post-fight news conference. Struves size -- he is the tallest fighter in UFC history and is tied for longest reach with light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones -- combined with slick kickboxing and submission skills have helped him rise up the heavyweight ranks while compiling a 9-4 record in the UFC. But his career appeared over last year when he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. Given the OK to resume fighting by his doctors in the Netherlands and the UFCs cardiologist, Struve (29-6) returns to the cage Saturday when he takes on Matt Mitrione at UFC 175 in Las Vegas. "It looks good," Struve, who divides his training between the Netherlands and Los Angeles. "I just need to do checkups two times a year with my doctors in Holland and two times a year with my doctors in LA. "Thats no problem for me. I actually like that I know for sure that my heart is healthy." Mitrione (7-3) is a former NFL defensive lineman who switched to MMA via Season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show in 2009. Struve, ranked 12th among heavyweight contenders, last fought in March 2013 when he suffered a broken jaw in a knockout loss to hard-hitting Mark Hunt in Japan. Struve says he had been sick for six weeks before the bout and was still under the weather during the fight. "I felt horrible." And he just couldnt recover after. "I just couldnt get over the jet lag. I couldnt sleep at night," he said. "I just didnt feel good and I didnt have any energy." He returned to full training some three months after the loss. Then one day at his parents house, he got dizzy standing up after working at the computer. He sat down and blacked out briefly, "which scared me because I had never had that." He went to the hospital, which couldnt find anything but asked him to come back for a stress ultrasound test which uses high frequency sound waves to examine the hearts anatomy and function. "Thats where they found it," he said. Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve, as well an enlarged heart. It meant that his heart was only pumping 60 per cent of his blood into the aorta and then the rest of his body. The remaining 40 per cent was ending up back in the heart chamber. Doctors used medication to control his blood pressure and the demands on his heart. Struve says he will probably have to undergo surgery at some point but hopes to do it after his fighting career. "As it is right now, its getting better every day," he said. He kept training throughout, raising his regimen as his health improved. He also taught MMA, which he said he enjoyed immensely. "I just enjoy being healthy and living a good life," he said. "I love this sport." MMA takes a toll, however. While Struve puts on exciting fights, he has endured punishing knockouts losses at the hands of Junior Dos Santos, Roy (Big Country) Nelson, Travis Browne and Hunt. The big Dutchman says he feels a lot more energy these days. "And a lot more joy in life, if you want to say so, because if you feel tied all day long, youre just miserable." But Struve says he may have taken time off from fighting even if it hadnt had the heart scare. He had plenty on his mind. "This was by far the hardest year of my life," he added. "Not only because of this but my father passed away in October after being sick for a year and a half. And then there were some other things that happened close to me that really impacted me." Back training, his performance in the gym gives him confidence that ring rust wont be an issue Saturday night. While Struve says he has got on well with Mitrione in the past, he says its a "little strange" the American asked for the fight before he was cleared to compete again. Middleweight champion Chris Weidman defends his title against former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida -- ranked No. 3 among 185-pound contenders -- in the main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. 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