The former UFC middleweight champion was forced to pull out of his title rematch on Tuesday.
Chris Weidman sank every piece of himself into efforts to retain a belt he sensationally won in 2013.
The New Yorker lost his belt to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194 having looked comfortable in the opening rounds. An ill-advised wheel kick saw Rockhold pounce and not let up until the bout was stopped in the final round.
The pair had sparred verbally for the past few months and their rematch, at June 4’s UFC 199, was highly anticipated. That is all out the door now after Weidman was forced to withdraw with a serious neck injury.
— SportsJOE.ie (@SportsJOEdotie) May 17, 2016
The 31-year-old took to Facebook to reveal the true extent of his injury and detail the efforts he went through to face Rockhold again.
The former college wrestler felt a stiffness in his neck, last Thursday, but put it down to wear and tear. Two days later and he was in severe pain. An MRI scan revealed an ‘extrusion herniation’ or bulging disk in his neck.
Still, Weidman was keen to fight.
Having heard about epidurals – commonly used as an anesthetic for women giving birth – blocking nerve pain, Weidman requested that. He was told there was little chance of it working but felt it was worth the risk. Weidman takes up the tale:
‘After finally getting the epidural, nothing changed. During this time I couldn’t sleep or get through any regular-day activity with the pain I was experiencing. I actually felt my best when I was working out but I couldn’t survive throughout the day and night without painkillers and other medication to try to block nerve pain.
‘I had another epidural scheduled for this Thursday but the doctors said again that it most likely wouldn’t make a difference.
‘I still planned on fighting until [Tuesday] when my coaches and loved ones really just put their foot down. The people I trusted most were not behind me fighting and pushing through.’
Weidman is now scheduled for surgery. The options for his herniated disc are removal or fusing it with another.
His hope is to be able to return in time to get, and make, a fight at the UFC’s return to New York in November of this year. There may also be help from a man who has been through some major neck issues of his own:
@ChrisWeidmanUFC Chris, give me a follow. I can help you at with the neck situation. Prayers are with You
— Kurt Angle (@RealKurtAngle) May 18, 2016
Kurt Angle broke four vertebrae in his neck, in the lead-up to the 1996 Olympics, but found a physician to clear him and went on to win gold.
Angle is a big MMA fan and often provides insights to Bellator fights. There has been talk of an MMA debut but, at 49, Angle may have missed the boat by a clear decade.