(A career’s worth of Fight of the Year candidates might be taking their toll on the lightweight veteran. / Photo via MMAWeekly)
Amid all the chaos and gallows humor surrounding Bellator’s wounded pay-per-view offering this coming weekend, one important point is being overlooked — Eddie Alvarez got hit in the head so hard that he had to pull out of a fight. Concussions are a common job-hazard for professional fighters, who take much more cumulative abuse during training than they do in their actual fights. But it’s still relatively rare for a concussion to be so debilitating that it forces a fighter to the sidelines.
On Monday, Alvarez went on MMAFighting’s The MMA Hour to explain exactly what caused the concussion — which he sustained a couple weeks ago while training at the Blackzilians gym in Boca Raton, Florida — and what it feels like to deal with such a serious injury:
“It was during one of [coach] Kenny Monday’s wrestling practices. Me and Abel Trujillo were wrestling. I shot in, he defended like with a hip check, sort of hit me, and I just remember feeling like it was a significant blow. Well, we just kept wrestling and kept going, and there was a couple of exchanges later, I had a separate partner. I had a single-leg, and they pulled out of the single-leg and their heel hit me underneath my chin, and that was only about two or three minutes later after I shot on Abel. So, it was a series of significant hits that I took…
Kenny Monday’s wrestling practice is pretty intense. You normally feel exhausted and dizzy after regardless, so I didn’t know whether just to take it that I was feeling the symptoms because I took a hard shot or I was just tired and exhausted from practice.
“So, I went home, I rested, and when I came in the next day my head was feeling pressure when I got like really light impact. And then the following day, Friday, it got even worse. So I needed to call [my manager] Glenn [Robinson] and let him know what was going on. That’s sort of what happened…
“I’ve been hit harder. I got knocked out before the last Chandler fight, probably five weeks before the fight I got knocked out. All I did was rest. I kind of took off live training for like two weeks and then I went right back into it and fought Mike. So, concussions and getting hit hard is not something that’s new to me. These particular symptoms were all new to me, I had never felt these before, so I got a little afraid of what was going on.”
Alvarez says he plans to return to normal training in a matter of weeks, though symptoms from the concussion still linger:
“When I get into the training room, any kind of impact training, even when I shadow box — if I throw my own punches, just the stopping and the jolting motion — it really puts pressure on my brain. Really, if I can describe it, it feels like my brain was like sort of bruised. It feels like a squeezing of my brain. My doctor says it was vestibular system that was sort of out of whack, which is the system that controls my head and my eye movement.
“So whenever I would try to do this motion, or if something happened really fast to my left or right side and I’d try to look, I would get a super, really like excruciating pain in my brain. So, I was probably foolish for thinking I could fight. But I was already too invested in my training camp to just say no. It was stupid to me to think about when I look back in retrospect, but I was very invested in the fight and I felt like I was going to be able to get past it.”
A complete break from training is apparently not an option for Alvarez, although maybe it should be. We wish Eddie the best in his recovery.