UFC 182: Daniel Cormier enters bout with a chronic knee injury

It was as recent as June that UFC light heavyweight Daniel Cormier was facing a serious knee surgery. He had a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tear, and a 50% tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. His LCL healed well (as LCL’s are prone to do when torn), he started feeling better when training, and decided to forgo surgical treatment. That decision preserved his opportunity to unseat champion Jon Jones at UFC 182.

As the mammoth fight between Cormier and Jon Jones approaches, there is one concern that I have for Cormier- Jones’ push kick (aka the oblique kick.) This BloodyElbow article from 2012 is an excellent technical breakdown of this technique. But one thing is crystal clear- this kick has the potential to destroy a healthy knee. The still images below show Jones delivering the oblique kick to Rampage Jackson. 


(Image via BloodyElbow.com)

Note that in two of the lower images, Jackson’s knee is in a hyperextended position. Therein lies the danger for Cormier’s damaged right knee. Or his healthy left knee for that matter. If Cormier eats enough of these kicks to his left knee, causing him to switch out of his orthodox stance and expose his right knee, the consequences could be severe.

As one interested in injury mechanics, I will be closely watching Cormier’s stance and ability to avoid or counter the oblique kick of Jon Jones. I will be live tweeting my observations during this bout and others on the January 3rd UFC 182 card. Follow me on Twitter @MMAInjury if you enjoy that kinda thing!

The CPM Selfie

UFC strawweight Heather Jo Clark has had her ACL repaired. You may recall that she struggled with the knee injury throughout season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, but stuck it out and made it on the TUF 20 Finale fight card on December 12. She underwent the surgery on December 17.

She revealed on twitter that she also had a meniscus repaired in the same surgery. In what has become a social media right of passage for some fighters, Clark posted a CPM selfie.

The CPM is a device used to gain full knee range of motion after surgery, and to prevent scarring within the joint (arthrofibrosis).

Are Dominick Cruz's repeated ACL injuries an aberration?

UFC bantamweight fighter Dominick Cruz announced earlier this week that he had suffered yet another ACL injury during training, this time involving his right knee. The saga of Dominick’s failed ACL surgery on his left knee is well documented. He did not fight for almost three years as he recovered from two ACL tears and subsequent surgeries on his left knee. His original repair, which used a cadaver ACL, failed. He had the patella tendon autograft for the second surgery. Like most athletes that opt for the cadaver graft, Dominick was pursuing the quick return to his sport. The use of a cadaver graft to replace the ACL in a high level athlete like Cruz is controversial.

In a recent interview with Fox Sports, it appears that Cruz has learned his lesson about using a cadaver graft for the ACL replacement. Speaking of his first ACL surgery on his left knee, Cruz commented:

"…the big problem with that whole rehab… was because I chose a cadaver tendon my very first surgery.  I didn’t know the research I know now… Now I know the processes I need to heal it correctly and I know the type of surgery I need. So the first time I do it, it won’t be a failed one like the first time, which ended up causing me to be out three years.”

Dominick seems to be well versed on research that suggests an athlete is more prone to a second ACL injury, either on the same knee or opposite knee, once they do undergo an ACL reconstruction. In a 2012 study of soccer players, about 6% of males and 20% of females who had undergone ACL repair subsequently had to have a second surgery. Many of those second surgeries were on the knee opposite their original surgery.

Other research about female ACL re-injury is particularly alarming. One study suggests that after an ACL repair, female athletes were 4 times more likely to suffer a second ACL injury and 6 times more likely to suffer a contralateral (opposite knee) injury than male athletes. 

None of the ACL-specific studies that I find are specific to the MMA athlete. However, it is not a stretch to believe that these findings should hold true for MMA. There are preventive measures that can be taken to lessen the likelihood of ACL injuries, particularly in female athletes. Let’s hope that the new UFC rehabilitation facility set to open in 2015 will place a high priority on this preventative training for the female fighters.

John Dodson begins ACL rehab

UFC flyweight John Dodson recently sustained an ACL tear in his knee, and has now started his rehab. Here is an Instagram video that he posted yesterday.

Dodson is shown with his knee in a continuous passive motion (CPM) device with ice on his knee. The CPM is used in the early weeks after ACL repair to ensure full range of motion of the knee. The ice will help with pain and swelling. It would be good to see Dodson using pneumatic compression in combination with the cold therapy. This combination can be very effective at controlling swelling and lessening pain. Maybe he is using such a device when he’s not in the CPM.

Obtaining effective pain control is critical to regaining control of the quadriceps muscles. Soon, Dodson should be working on normalizing his gait and obtaining full active range of motion of the knee, both crucial to avoiding arthrofibrosis (scarring within the knee) and regaining strength of the quadriceps.

John Dodson has ACL Surgery

Fox Sports reported yesterday that UFC flyweight John Dodson has undergone ACL reconstruction surgery, and will be on the shelf until some time in 2015. He has been battling problems with his knee for some time.

His scheduled December 2013 bout with Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9 was cancelled due to Dodson suffering a partial tear of his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. He made a successful return to the Octagon in June of this year, but soon started having problems with the knee once again.

After the original injury, Dodson chose to pursue a conservative path rather than surgery since the ACL was partially torn. The confounding fact about the ACL is that it does not heal well on its own when torn. For the average layperson, the partially torn ACL can heal well enough to maintain normal day-to-day function. However, the elite level athlete may have a totally different outcome, and this is obviously the case with Dodson.

I posted an article on BloodyElbow in April, explaining in more detail why the ACL is difficult to heal on its own. The primary problem is that the ACL is an intraarticular ligament, and cannot form a healing blood clot at the site of the tear like other ligaments can (MCL, LCL). 

I don’t expect Dodson to return to training until around March or April of 2015, and probably won’t be fight-ready until the summer of 2015. This of coarse depends on a normal course of recovery.

UFC on FOX 11: Thiago Alves' comeback, and those leg kicks!

The UFC on FOX 11 card featured some great finishes. My interest, however, was fixed upon the welterweight bout between Thiago Alves and Seth Baczynski, seen on the preliminary card on FOX Sports 1. Alves earned the unanimous decision win. 

Alves returned to the Octagon for the first time since March of 2012, when he suffered a submission loss to Martin Kampmann at UFC on FOX 2. Since that fight, Alves has had four surgeries. The list of injuries he has suffered is impressive.

  • Torn biceps 
  • Torn ACL
  • Torn PCL
  • Torn pectoral muscle

But before this series of injuries and surgeries, Thiago underwent a surgery that, to my recollection, no other active UFC fighter has had- brain surgery. In 2010, an MRI revealed an arterial/venous malformation in his brain. The surgery to repair that was uncomplicated, and he soon returned to training. Alves enlisted the help of Mike Dolce for a nutrition and weight cutting strategy. 

In his fight against Baczynski, Thiago displayed a barrage of brutal leg kicks complimented by some fine punches. His timing with the kicks was spot on. He looked as if he had been fighting regularly. This is a testament to the training and rehab that he had after each of his injuries. 

So, who’s next for Thiago Alves? Leave your comments here. And hit me up on Twitter @MMAInjury! 

MMA Injury update: Cain Velasquez shoulder surgery

UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez recently gave an update on his progress since left shoulder surgery last December. The surgery was to repair a torn labrum, and it was his second shoulder surgery.

Labrum tears have the potential to alter the stability of the shoulder, which has obvious negative implications for an MMA athlete.

On his rehabilitation progress, Cain notes “I’m toward the end of my rehab now. More so starting to try to get that strength back instead of the motion. Still can’t train yet, hopefully pretty soon the doctor will clear me to start doing some stuff.”

You can see the video of this interview on my post that’s up today at BloodyElbow.com.

John Dodson returns to gym, recovering from knee injury

UFC flyweight John Dodson has been inactive since an early December 2013 knee injury, when he suffered partial tears of his MCL and ACL. The injury occurred during training, and forced him to withdraw from his scheduled fight at UFC on Fox 9 vs. Scott Jorgensen.

On February 25, he Tweeted a picture of himself sparring, having apparently been cleared to return to more aggressive training.


At the time of the injury, Dodson expected an 8-10 week inactive period. He has past that point, and I expect that we will see him in the Octagon some time this spring or possibly early summer, depending on fights that may be available to him.

Watch those outside leg kicks, John.

Julianna Pena injury update

Julianna Pena suffered a nasty knee injury in late January, in which she tore her ACL, LCL, MCL and a meniscus. She is in the early phases of her knee rehab now. Later tonight, I will have a post up on BloodyElbow.com where I review her rehab based on some comments that she shared earlier this week in a radio interview.

Watch for the article, and please follow me on twitter @MMAInjury!

New Anderson Silva video- he's already hitting pads

New video of Anderson Silva has been posted, and this time he’s hitting pads! He seems to be progressing very well with his rehab following the gruesome leg fracture that he suffered in his rematch with Chris Weidman at UFC 168.

In my most recent post on BloodyElbow.com, I take a look at the video and give a brief analysis of what is shows. You can read that article here.

Thanks for following me on Tumblr! You can also follow me on Twitter, @MMAInjury, for analysis and commentary on MMA injuries, rehab and recovery.

Ed Herman's ACL Saga

Earlier, the UFC announced that Ed Herman will fight on the UFC Fight Night 40 card in May. Here are some tweets that I posted about Herman’s unfortunate ACL injury history that kept him out of action for most of 2 years beginning in 2009.

Please follow me on Twitter (@MMAInjury)- I like posting this kind of stuff!

UFC Fight Night 36: The Injury Rewind

Tonight’s UFC Fight Night 36 card features many fighters who are returning to the Octagon after injury.  I just posted an article on BloodyElbow.com reviewing some of those fighters and their injuries. Highlights include Gegard Mousasi, who is returning after his 2nd ACL reconstruction on the same knee, and Joe Proctor who returns after a year lay off with shoulder surgery.

Head over to BloodyElbow and check it out!

Liz Carmouche wants to coach vs. Cat Zingano on TUF 20

The 20th installment of The Ultimate Fighter will feature an all-female cast for the first time, and the winner will become the UFC’s first ever women’s strawweight champion. The coaches for TUF 20 have yet to be picked, and Liz Carmouche thinks she should be one of them. She is pushing hard to coach against Cat Zingano.

Bleacher Report addressed Liz’s wishes to coach earlier this month, but her Twitter campaign continued as recently as yesterday.

But not so fast. Cat Zingano seems to have her priorities in order, and she makes it clear in her reply to Liz.

I think it is an impossibly long shot for Carmouche to coach TUF 20. She is 1-2 in her UFC career, and has lost 4 of her last 7 fights dating back to 2011. 

I'm Back!

It’s been a while since I posted here, but I am back. I am writing most of my injury pieces for BloodyElbow.com, and that is where I’ve been for the past 3 plus months. 

Here are a few of my recent posts that I hope you will enjoy.

Dominick Cruz video from Sport Science Lab, where he has been rehabbing since five months after his second ACL reconstruction. I offer some commentary on training while rehabbing from such an injury.

A review of Tuff-N-Uff fighter Mike Florio’s gruesome leg injury, suffered on November 29th in Las Vegas. Worse than Jon Jones’ toe injury!

Shayna Baszler missed her chance to fight on the TUF 18 Finale recently, as she was injured. Here is a review of her “alternative” medicine choice to heal her injured ankle.