Stefan Struve won’t be calling it a career just yet.
The towering heavyweight will return to meet Ben Rothwell at UFC on ESPN 7 in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7. Promotion officials announced the matchup on Tuesday. The event takes place at Capitol One Arena and includes a bantamweight clash between Aspen Ladd and Yana Kunitskaya as well as a strawweight tilt pitting Claudia Gadelha against Cynthia Calvillo.
Struve ended a three-bout skid with a second-round submission victory against Marcos Rogerio de Lima at UFC Fight Night 145 in Prague on Feb. 23. He then took his gloves off in the Octagon and all but announced his retirement. However, he gave himself a little leeway to make a comeback in his statement.
"This is something I've thought over a lot. I think everyone is aware that my heart is not 100 percent. When I made my comeback, I told myself I'd fight five years,” Struve said. "I've fought a little longer since then. My heart is good, but there is a very good opportunity that this is my last fight.
“So, thank you very much. I took my gloves off, I'm not 100 percent sure yet. It's not a decision I've made right now. I lost my last three before this and to get a win like this, a lot of people end their careers too late. I'm going to overthink this, so this is not 100 percent but I feel like this is a great moment. Thank you to all the fans, I love you.”
Struve’s manager, Lex McMahon, released a statement to ESPN revealing that the Dutch fighter had signed a new deal with the promotion and was feeling rejuvenated to resume his MMA career.
“Stefan had the opportunity to rest and recharge,” the statement read. “If you recall he never fully committed to retiring. He’s young, still just 31 years old, I think after some much needed rest, he realized that he loves the sport, the competition, has rediscovered his passion for fighting at the highest level.
“The UFC was very supportive of Stefan and gave him a deal that gives him the opportunity to earn a tremendous amount of money and compensates him for what he is, a highly marketable veteran who is near the very top of the division in terms of fights, wins, finishes, and performance bonuses.”
Rothwell, meanwhile, will be looking to halt a three-fight losing streak of his own. Most recently, the Kenosha, Wisc., native suffered a decision defeat in an entertaining clash with Andrei Arlovski at UFC on ESPN 4 on July 20.