As I got off the treadmill on Saturday night, I don’t remember ever feeling as healthy or ready for my March 4th fight.
On Sunday afternoon as I was packing, I felt a slight pain in my back. So, I decided to lie down and crack it. And then all of a sudden, I dropped to the floor, feeling the worst pain in my life. I could not get up from the floor and the pain in my lower back was brutal as my muscles in my lower back locked up.
An hour later with the help of 2 people, I finally was able to walk 10 feet to my bed. I consulted with a Neurosurgeon and an Orthopedic surgeon in Boston, who believed I had a pinched nerve and a bad case of muscle spasms. The next 48 hours was tough since I was unable to take pain killers because of my upcoming fight. So I remained pretty much crippled and in a lot of pain.
Leaving for Las Vegas
On Tuesday morning, I flew to Las Vegas hoping for a miracle. The 6 hour flight felt like 12 hours. In the afternoon, I saw more doctors. It was decided that if I did not feel significantly better on Wednesday, March 1st, I would not be able to fight. In the back of my head, I already knew the answer. I couldn’t even dress myself without help and simply walking took effort. I wish it was just a question of fighting with pain – as I had done that before. And my trainers were not going to let me fight if I was not able to jog or jump.
Over the last few months, I had trained very hard. During the last four weeks, I had lost over 20 lbs and even had my strength and conditioning coach move in with me. I had 20 friends and family members flying out to Vegas to see me fight. I had made the weight, had sponsors in my corner, rented hotel rooms, and my training camp had never been better. I was completely wired for this fight.
Seeing the other fighters weigh-in on the event that I was scheduled to fight in was extremely difficult. Having to explain to people what happened was even tougher. One couple from England told me they flew 15 hours just to see me fight.
Thanks to the support of fighters at UFC 58 like Rich Franklin’s group as well as BJ Penn’s group, their chiropractor teams helped me walk normally, and sit down and get up with minimal pain. By March 4th, I was able to walk much better, but executing basic fighting skills like kicking and lifting was still not possible.
I have never had to pull out of any fight before. I never wanted to make Joe Silva’s life any more difficult. (Diego Sanchez and Kristof Midoux had to pull out from their fights as well). Fortunately, UFC 58 went off without a hitch. It was an amazing event to see live and one of the best MMA events ever put together. I was glad to see that the UFC was able to find a replacement for me with such short notice.
The hard hitting, hot shot Spencer Fisher was chosen to replace me. I know Sam trained hard for me. As a result, I am not sure if there was anyone cheering louder than me for Sam at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Sam took on the UFC veteran and won a split decision, proving that he deserves to be in the UFC. He will be a big threat to the other 155 lbs fighters. Congratulations to Sam and Team Thompkins on a great showing. I am hoping that Sam and I will be back in the octagon soon to face each other.
Now a week later, I am feeling much better and starting to mentally get over not being able to fight that night. Accordingly, I would like to sincerely thank team Franklin and Team BJ Penn for helping me out like they did. As always, the UFC was extremely supportive. It makes me feel good to work with such great people.
I would like to thank all of my trainers and training partners from Boston BJJ and Sityodtong Boston for their help in preparing me for this fight. Thanks to my brother Keith (BJJ/MMA coach), Mark DellaGrotte (muay thai/MMA coach), my Strength and Conditioning coach Doug Dupont and Boston BJJ instructor Roberto Maia. I also would like to thank my sponsors Sprawl Fight Shorts, Shoyoroll Clothing and Sirius Athletic for their support.
I would also like to thank my family and friends for all of their help and encouragement. To my fans from the U.S., Canada and overseas, I thank you for all of your e-mails, letters and messages of support for this fight and best wishes for speedy recovery from my injury. I am convinced I have the best fans anywhere.
I trust that God has a plan for me. I can’t wait to show what I have to offer the UFC at 155 lbs. Perhaps that is what hurt the most. For me this fight was supposed to be my real coming out party - finally competing at my real fighting weight.
I am now that much more motivated and excited to return to training. Assuming I am 100% ready to train, I will leave for Thailand at the end of March. I will be training side by side with the best that Muay Thai has to offer. I guarantee you, I will be back with more weapons in my arsenal. Until then . . . thank you and stay with the Flo!!
p.s. Best wishes for speedy recoveries to Diego Sanchez and Kristof Midoux.