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WSOF's Brian Foster spent nearly $50K and four years proving to everyone there's nothing wrong with his brain

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Four years ago, Brian Foster had brain surgery. At least that's what his Wikipedia page says.

Four years ago, Brian Foster had a brain hemorrhage. At least that's what most people think.

Foster was medically released by the UFC in 2011 when a pre-fight exam showed something on his brain. What it was, no one really knows for sure. It was assumed at the time that Foster suffered a hemorrhage. Even he said that in various interviews.

But since then, not a single test has shown up anything on Foster's brain. And he has taken them all. Foster said he has never had brain surgery and the entire ordeal was completely blown out of proportion.

The Oklahoma native estimates he has spent somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 of his own money for traveling, medical expenses and tests just so he can clear his name -- just so he can show commissions and MMA promotions that he is healthy.

"I've been to the very best doctors," Foster told MMAFighting.com. "I've been to countless doctors and everybody past the one that got me suspended. Everyone after that one has been fine for the last couple years. We've taken the proper precautions necessary to ensure my safety and to make sure that nothing is gonna happen and I'm ready to compete."

Foster (22-6) has fought 10 times since his UFC release, including an unsanctioned 16-man tournament in Mexico. But when he steps into the cage in the main event of World Series of Fighting 17 against Jake Shields on Saturday night in Las Vegas, it will be a culmination.

The winner will get a WSOF welterweight title shot. Shields is a big-name opponent. And all that money, all that time and all that heartache will have not been for nothing.

"It's been one hell of a ride, man," Foster said. "To be able to do what I'm doing now, it's a godsend. Finally everything is coming to an end and finally I get to compete and jump back on the road I was on."

It has been far from easy. Since his UFC release, Foster has competed for nine different organizations, including a kickboxing match with Glory in 2012. His goal was to get cleared by as many commissions as he could before tackling Nevada, which has the most influential athletic commission in combat sports.

"My fight's not with Jake," Foster said. "My fight was with Nevada."

Last spring, Foster and WSOF came to an agreement. But first he would need to be cleared by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC). The organization flew him into Las Vegas and sent him to the highly respected Cleveland Clinic for tests.

While the information was being processed, WSOF allowed Foster to take a fight against Gilbert Smith for Titan FC in May. Foster won that bout by unanimous decision. Not long after, Foster got the good news: he would be licensed by the NAC.

"The way I think of it is, this is a chance to show the world no matter what people say and no matter what happens, don't give up on your dreams," Foster said. "If you feel it in your heart and you see you're capable and people are still telling you you're capable and people are still believing in you, don't give up on yourself. Just keep going. Keep pushing. No matter what knocks you down, just brush it off and keep moving forward. And good things will happen in the end."

Foster, a powerful striker and opportunistic submission artist, was well on his way during his days with the UFC. He won two in a row before being released, the latter a second-round submission victory over current welterweight contender Matt Brown in November 2010. The fact that Brown has been in title shot talks over the last year or so has fired Foster up.

"Matt Brown is f*cking top five in the world right now and I whooped his ass," Foster said. "Not only did I whoop his ass, I finished him. He didn't land punches on me. I did everything I wanted to do in that fight. You got guys going to f*cking decisions with this dude?"

It was Foster's potential as a star that attracted WSOF. After Foster told promotion officials that he was fully healthy, signing him was an easy decision.

"You can wonder if this guy stayed in the UFC and never left, how high would he be?" WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz told MMAFighting.com. "Is he going to be in the top five making money and becoming a star?"

Foster is now training at Factory X in Englewood, Colo., with coach Marc Montoya. Joe Warren, Nate Marquardt, Neil Magny and Chris Camozzi are among his teammates. Foster would get a title shot if he beats Shields, but he also has an out clause that would let him leave WSOF for the UFC. He still has some lingering bitterness about the way he was treated by the UFC, though. And WSOF gave him a shot and treated him well when other large promotions would not.

"I'm busting my ass and breaking my back and sacrificing my time away from my family and my children and breaking my body down for what I love to do and for an organization that says they care about fighters," Foster said. "And for me to sustain an injury preparing for them to give me no kind of help or anything in that regard, yeah it's kind of disturbing."

He added: "I love the UFC. Don't get me wrong. As much as I'm bitter about it, I love the UFC. I would be stupid to say I don't want to play for the NFL. I think that they need to be a little more sensitive to a fighter's dreams and aspirations. And take the politics out of sh*t like that. Do it for the benefit of the fighter, because the fighter is doing it for the benefit of you. Why's it gotta be one-sided? For me to go back to the UFC, I think after I whoop Jake's ass I think they're gonna want me over there. That being said, make it lucrative for me. Make it worth my while. Not just money. I want main card spots. I want top contenders. I want what's owed to me."

Foster will never get those prime years back and that's one of the reasons why he still hates talking about all of this. He wants to leave it in the past and focus on what he firmly believes is a bright future.

"It was a blemish on my f*cking MRI that they freaked out about and called it a hemorrhage," Foster said. "It was never even that. They blew it so far out of proportion. Ever since the UFC released me, I've been spending my own money to ensure my safety to continue my career and accomplish my dreams."

That battle is over now. The only ones left are inside a cage. Even if Shields beats Foster on Saturday at Planet Hollywood, Foster will be a winner. Because either way he gets to continue his career and provide for his two sons rather than burning all his savings on neurologists and brain scans.

"I think there's something to be learned from my situation," Foster said. "There's something to take from it, most definitely, for other people to come."