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Dada 5000 breaks silence on Bellator 149 scare: 'I was pronounced dead'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nearly two months have passed since Dhafir Harris, the fighter better known as Dada 5000, collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after his Bellator 149 match against Kimbo Slice on Feb. 19. Harris suffered cardiac arrest, severe dehydration, fatigue, and renal failure during and after the contest, and on Wednesday he broke his silence, comparing the ordeal to climbing through hell and back.

"When I actually fell inside that ring, Kimbo Slice never touched me," Harris said on The Dan LeBatard Show. "I had a heart attack. So, when I slammed against the cage and I went down, that was just the beginning.

"The heart is a muscle, so when the kidneys shut down and I'm still pushing, the next thing to go was the heart. So when my heart stopped, it's like, I was out of it. I didn't remember nothing. When they brought me back, I was inside the hospital and they said that I had two heart attacks -- and this is on paper we can provide to you guys. I had two heart attacks and I [flat-lined] twice. And for me, I was just thanking God, like, I'm here for a real reason. Because there's individuals out there who didn't go through a fraction of what I went through and they're no longer breathing."

Harris ultimately lost the contest to Slice via third-round TKO, but said it was after the first round that he realized something may be going terribly wrong with his body.

"I remember bits and pieces of the second round," Harris said. "Where I hit Kimbo and he just dropped his hands. And I'm looking at a home-run at that point, but my body was so done, I couldn't even follow up. Even when he was on all fours, and I was tapping him, I'm thinking, ‘yo, if I would've had a little more power, that would've been over at that point.' So I was feeling like I was anxious.

"I was thinking to myself, ‘what is actually going on with me?' I didn't know at that time, medically, that my kidneys had locked up on me and that I was having a heart attack. And the last thing that I remember is that I was leaning on him, and he shifted away from me. He swung, but he missed, and I stumbled and I went down. The next thing, I woke up hours later and I was inside the hospital.

"I was dead," Harris added. "When you talk about your spirit leaving your body, looking at the light, but it's not your time to go, and you actually get brought back, that was my situation. Because I was pronounced dead, and they kept working, kept working, kept working. And I died minutes apart."

Harris attributed his kidney failure to Rhabdomyolysis, "a serious syndrome" that "results from the death of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream," according to WebMD. Harris acknowledged that his dramatic weight cut, in which he lost nearly 40 pounds in a few months, was a major contributing factor to the situation.

"I probably pushed myself," Harris said. "Instead of taking a couple months, I probably double-timed it. So I wouldn't say (I cut weight) poorly. I think that my body was not used to that, because I'm not a full-time fighter. So I don't fight regularly. I'm a promoter, I'm a matchmaker, I do a lot of things inside my organization with BYB and inside the backyard. I'm a part-time dude, so I fight like every couple years. So at the end of the day, I think that my body having so much time being off, and to push it from zero to 60, that could be something to focus on."

Harris said Wednesday that even two months after the fact, he is still on dialysis as a result of the renal failure. He expressed gratitude for surviving the experience, crediting his faith and the support of his family for helping him make it out alive.

"I come from a spiritual background," Harris said. "I'm laying on the gurney, the bed. Now, they say when a person is inside of a coma, be careful of what you say because they can hear you but they cannot respond to you. The last thing that goes is your hearing. So I'm listening to the doctors say, ‘well, listen, we have to drill a hole inside of his head. We have to release the pressure on his brain. We have to put this chip or something inside so we can get the response from him that we want.' And my brothers and them were like, ‘no, you're not doing that.' So they were telling me, ‘Dada, if you hear what they're trying to do to you, move your hand. Move your right hand.' And I couldn't. I was stuck.

"I was screaming to the top of my lungs, no, do not let them do that to me. And I'm going to tell you something, my will to live superseded anything else. I really just focused on my hands, and I moved my hands, and they were like, ‘doc, look, he's moving his hands! Move your other hand.' And I moved my other hand.

"The doctors were like, ‘wow, it's a miracle. Like, no, it's God. You haven't seen anything yet. And later that day, I'm laying back and my eyes just opened up a little bit, and then I actually opened them up. They had tubes and everything running down my throat. They had originally written me off."