Broken Thumbs. ROF 35. Throwback Thursday?

August 1st, 2009 — I was coming off a tough training camp, but in solid shape and ready to go against tough Brazilian Fabio Serrao. Nicknamed “Jungle Boy”, Serrao is a black belt in BJJ and NAGA World Champion — he was certainly the most decorated BJJ fighter I had fought to date. Plus, he was simply huge.

I won a decision in a tough fight, but that’s really not the point of this post. At some point during the first round, I broke my thumb. Pretty bad — basically in half.

In between the first and second round, I sat down on the stool, and Eliot Marshall began feeding me instructions. I interrupted him to tell him that I thought I broke my hand. Eliot, looking shocked that I interrupted him, snapped back “I don’t give a f***!” I remember being surprised at the lack of sympathy I got, but it was pretty much exactly what I needed to hear. It turned out, Serrao didn’t care if I broke my thumb, either. I fought the next two rounds with a broken right hand, which I kept throwing at him, and kept regretting every time it landed.

Eliot's a "tough love" type of guy.

Here’s the reason for this post — I found an old memory card in my office this morning. Curious, I opened it up on my computer to see what was on it, and I found this video. My thumb required surgery, and I had two pins put in to keep the bone in place post surgery. After six weeks, I had the pins removed. Before the surgeon pulled out the second pin, I thought it would be a good idea to film it. If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like for a doctor to pull a pin out of your thumb bone, here it is…

I was surprised there was no anesthetic involved, but it really didn’t hurt. It was certainly a strange feeling, though — I remember feeling my thumb bone vibrate as he twisted the pin back and forth to pry it loose. The most painful part was my skin heating up from the friction of the twisting of the pin. Weird.

A little fun fact — 2 and a half years later, my buddy Jarred Mercado beat Fabio Serrao in a unanimous decision on another ROF card here in Colorado. Jarred broke his thumb in the first round.

Congratulations to Cody Donovan on his Retirement.

It’s always tough to see one of the good guys hang their gloves up.  Somebody who didn’t take any shortcuts, who never took advantage of anyone, who put his nose to the grindstone and worked his ass off through injuries, losses, and victories.  Cody Donovan is truly one of the good guys in mixed martial arts.

When you’re in a business long enough — in my case, mixed martial arts — you see a lot of things that kind of sour you on the whole experience.  I’ve been somewhat jaded on the sport for some time.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love fighting.  I’m sure I always will.  One of the things that has kept that love strong is watching genuinely good guys like Cody experience great success.  I’ve been lucky enough to call him a friend since probably 2006 when the BJJ Boulder crew and the High Altitude crew (and a few others) began training together, forming what we called the “Colorado Top Team”.  I think a couple of those nerds even got tattoos.

 I was there for Cody’s first amateur fight in Vail (a sub-minute submission victory). I remember Ben Henderson losing to local Rocky Johnson on that same card. We got yelled at by the Colorado State Athletic Commission when they caught us slamming Guinness backstage at Ring of Fire 29, where we both experienced our first losses. We fought on the same card in February of 2008, when Cody won his first belt.  I remember my wife and I losing it at a local bar watching Cody win his UFC debut in the middle of the day (on the one small screen they would dedicate to the UFC prelims). It’s truly been a pleasure watching Cody’s career from the beginning, and it’s bittersweet to see him move on from fighting.

I’ve fought many battles with Cody by my side, in the gym, in the ring, and in life. To one of the toughest dudes I know — here’s to enduring success in the rest of your life. The next beer’s on me.

I’m ok! I’m ok! I promise…

Well, my Lion Fight debut certainly didn’t go as planned.

The weight cut to 142lbs went surprisingly well, I rehydrated well, and felt on top of my game going into the fight. I haven’t seen the tape yet, but I felt like the first round was going pretty well — I was getting a good read on his offense, and I thought I was just beginning to open up some good opportunities on his defense. Then, about halfway through the first round, my opponent, Gaston Bolanos, hit me with probably the most well-timed and placed strike I’ve ever been hit with; a spinning elbow that landed directly on my eyeball. I suppose it was all downhill from there. The lights went out in that eye right away, and I could feel that he opened up a pretty good cut on my eyebrow. I remember thinking that I would kind of take the rest of the round off, regain my vision in between rounds, and get back on track.
I walked back to the corner on the bell, and argued with Professor Duane Ludwig and the ringside Dr. as they waived the fight off. Looking back, it was certainly the right call.

After spending about 7 hours in the most poorly run facility (the University Medical Center E.R. in Las Vegas) I’ve ever been in, I had 11 stitches and a rough idea of the rest of my injuries.

Got that Rich Franklin nose going on...

I got back to Colorado on Sunday, and was able to get a quick appointment with one of the most prestigious otolaryngologists in the US a couple of days later. Dr. Mario Imola performed several procedures on my uncle when he was diagnosed with jaw cancer years back. He became a good family friend, and fixed my nose 9 or so years ago the first time I got hit with a left hook and found it on the other side of my face. He did me a solid and got me into surgery last night (Friday, the 11th).

Dr. Imola re-broke my nose, and straightened out the 2 fractures I received in the fight. Don’t worry, ladies, I will be handsome once again. On the more fun end, he informed me that I had two fractures in the floor of my orbital bone, one of which was 40mm long. Seems like pretty important information, huh? I wonder why the Dr’s in Las Vegas felt the need to leave that out. My eye was, for lack of a better term, sinking into my face. On top of that, the bone was pinching one of my ocular muscles, causing double vision (which was making me feel like a drunk for the entire week leading up to surgery). He made an incision just under my eye and inserted a mesh plate to hold my eye in place.

This is a selfie record for me.

About 20 hours, a whole bunch of narcotic painkillers, and some terrible hospital food later, I’m back home and as good as one of those refurbished pieces of furniture you buy at scratch & dent stores. Shout out to the facilities and staff at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado — that place is heaven on earth compared to the UMC in Vegas (thanks Dr. Imola, Cassie, Jessica, Maggie, and Jenna for making my stay so comfortable). Once again, Colorado proves its superiority over the other 49 states.

And on that note, I’m going to rest up for a couple of days before my wife takes me on vacation. Rough fight, but life isn’t too bad…

Thanks for the support everyone!