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Belcher Says Eye is Still ‘Less Than 50 Percent,’ But Continues to Work Toward 2011 Return


(VidProps: YouTube/ArielHelwani)

After two surgeries to repair a detached retina in his right eye, Alan Belcher says his vision is still blurry and dark and he told Ariel Helwani backstage during UFC 119 on Saturday that he is “less than 50 percent” recovered. Nonetheless, if Belcher can avoid another surgery it is possible he could return to MMA action sometime next summer, he says.

“My doctor is optimistic and all the other doctors I’ve talked to are optimistic about it,” Belcher says. “It’s just, if I have more surgeries and other things go wrong, it could be a possibility that I can’t fight again. I just have to get all healed up and I have to pass the ophthalmology exam and I have to get my vision better. Right now it’s still blurry and I can’t really take the chance of hurting my other eye. (But) I’ll take the chance myself if the doctors will let me, I’ll get back in there no matter what.” 


Belcher suffered the detached retina while training for Demain Maia in Brazil earlier this year. Though his first surgery appeared successful, the retina detached again two months later, requiring a second procedure. At this point, Belcher says a third setback could end his career for good, so he is mentally preparing himself to take the next year off to make sure he is fully healed before he returns. 

“It just hit me all of a sudden,” he says. “I didn’t get hit or anything. I guess it was something that, before I had some tears in my retina and then it detached. I don’t know what caused it or anything, it just happened.”

The second surgery involved doctors inserting a gas bubble around his eye to hold the retina in place. The recovery from that procedure required that he lay face down for two weeks to let everything heal. At this point, he’s up and around, but says he "can’t really do anything" in terms of training. The next six weeks sound like they might be critical, to hear Belcher tell it at about the 4:40 mark in the above video. After that, he says it’s unlikely the eye will “go backward” and it will be a matter of giving it a couple more months rest before he gets back to “intense physical activity.”

If and when he does return, Belcher says he expects to immediately reinsert himself into top contention in the middleweight division. He’s not interested in a warm-up fight and says his fan base – which is only growing due to his injury, he says – will want to see him face one of the top contenders at 185-pounds.

Until then, he basically has no choice but to take it easy and hope for the best. Obviously, we all wish Belcher a speedy and complete recovery.

“(It was) very scary, man,” he says of the initial injury. “This is my livelihood (and) also my life’s work. I’ve put in my whole life to be a champion in MMA … It really scared me and it still scares me, but I’m getting used to it. Who knows what’s going happen.”

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Kimbos Bread- September 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm
Belcher, hang it up dude. You are a good fighter , but you are not THAT good it is just not worth permanent blindness. Take your blessings and your Johnny Cash tattoo. And find a new wayto make the bread.
RwilsonR- September 27, 2010 at 12:50 pm
@ Biffmeister - Well, it would be in keeping with recent New York tradition.

I believe your previous Senator grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, spent her university years in Boston, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut, moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the next twenty years, and then lived in Washington, DC, for the eight years immediately prior to her election in New York, having never actually lived in the state.

So I don't see where Belcher would have a problem, except with his awful last name. It just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as nicely as Bloomberg or Giuliani. Although, Koch is pretty awful to say (especially in German), and Pataki, Spitzer, and Dinkins sound bad, too. So maybe New Yorkers can get over that.
danomite- September 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm
I don't think eyes are like bones. I doubt they get stronger after they heal. If it heals 100% the chances of him re-injuring it the next time he gets punched in the face are still pretty good. I think he should just hope that his eye gets back to normal and start looking for a new way to earn a living. If he keeps fighting he might end up with only one good eye for the rest of his life.
DazedNConfused- September 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm
ahhh he's faking it. Put some visine in it and get back to the octagon ya hillbilly!

In all seriousness though, I hope he heals up. The mans got some great Muay Thai skills, and would give a lot of contenders some problems. Him vs Leban, Marquart, Wandy or Sexyama would be great.
Biffmiester- September 27, 2010 at 11:43 am
@Taco Frito

Wait, what?! You expect me, a lifelong New Yorker, to agree upon letting a fighter from Jonesboro, Arkansas who fights out of Biloxi, Mississippi to run for governor of this great state. Well, my goodness, that concept sounds about as ridiculous as letting a man from Boston be New York City's mayor for three terms.

:)

EDIT: Get better and heal up soon, Talent.
Viva Hate- September 27, 2010 at 11:14 am
@Fried Taco,
I hang my head in shame for missing such gold!
Fried Taco- September 27, 2010 at 11:12 am
@Viva Hate - I think you meant "the UFSEE"

Anyways, I hope he does fully recover, but if not, maybe he can run for governor of New York. He could help push the legalization of MMA there!

El Famous Burrito- September 27, 2010 at 11:03 am
That shot looks like Belcher is sizing up Ariel's head and pondering a new tattoo.
NuKKLeHeaD- September 27, 2010 at 10:47 am
"I'll be back as soon as I can see Johnny Cash's face on my arm."
Viva Hate- September 27, 2010 at 10:47 am
EYE would love to SEE him back in the cage. Hopefully the UFC does the right thing and RETINA, I mean retains his services. Given prior videos, he could always open a school and teach some PUPILS.

Sorry for the Vitreous Humor or Aqueous Humor, hopefully it wasn’t to CORNEA. HA!

Seriously, good luck!
RwilsonR- September 27, 2010 at 10:33 am
That really sucks! It may not ever heal up for him. I hope he is able to come back, but it isn't sounding good.
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