Ricardo Lamas had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
The longtime UFC featherweight contender recently went through a scary situation in which he also managed to pick up an important victory.
Two weeks ago, Lamas got back in the winning column with a stoppage victory over gritty veteran Darren Elkins in the co-main event of UFC Argentina. The dominant performance ended a two-fight skid for Lamas.
And he did it all with a blood clot in his body.
Speaking with MMA Fighting, Lamas recalled the first time he started feeling something was off:
“The day I landed – the first day in Argentina – I was waiting around in the day, I had already gotten a workout in and it [Lamas’ left calf] just felt like a sore muscle, like I pulled a muscle or something, but it shouldn’t have because I didn’t remember doing anything that would’ve hurt it.
“I did a run and then I hit the sauna and I was thinking maybe I had pulled it on the run, but it felt fine the entire time. I didn’t feel a strain or anything when I was running, it just came after.”
Lamas went on through fight week, cut to 145 pounds, and entered the Octagon where he scored his 11th career stoppage victory. Following the bout with Elkins, the discomfort continued, and once back in the U.S., Lamas went to see his doctor.
“Deep vein thrombosis, basically that was what happened,” Lamas said. “They sent me for an ultrasound after I told him (the doctor) what had happened.
“I told him that I felt like I pulled my muscle, but that I didn’t remember doing anything that would’ve pulled it. He said that he had a concern due to the information I gave them about my fight, the fight being so far away, and the long flight. He said that sometimes people can develop deep vein thrombosis or DVT on like a long flight from being seated so long and not getting up and kind of not letting the blood circulate.
“So he was like, ‘I just want to send you for an ultrasound so we can rule that out, but it sounds like it could be that,’ and I was kind of shaking it off, I wouldn’t think that that would happen, a blood clot from an airplane ride, but apparently that’s what happened.”
There is no telling for certain how the blood clot formed but it’s likely from the back-to-back drive from Miami – where Lamas trained for the fight – to his home in Chicago and flights from Chicago to Houston and then to Argentina. Lamas estimates his drive from Miami to Chicago took about 22 hours and his flight from Houston to Argentina alone to have been 11 hours.
“I’m assuming, there is not any telling when it happened or from what, but when I think about it, it might be the combination of, you know, when I came from Miami I had to drive home and then it was only a couple of days before I jumped on the plane.
“So that was two really long trips where I was seated for a really long time. Because when we drove home, me and my buddy drove straight through. The only times we stopped was to refill for gas and go to the bathroom. So I’m thinking it was those two trips and maybe being a little dehydrated or something probably.”
Lamas is current taking medication prescribed by his doctor to deal with the blood clot. He can not train while on the medication, which will put a brief pause on his fighting career.
“Normally, they say a person is supposed to be on that medication for three months, but while you’re on that medication, you can’t train hard or risk getting hit, because if you’re on blood thinners and you get hit, it can actually cause internal bleeding and stuff like that,” Lamas said.
“So I told them, ‘hey, listen, you know, with my line of work it be hard to sit on the sidelines for three months,’ so I told them that we would do the medication for a month and then go get retested with another ultrasound. And if the clot is gone, and I’m good then, I’m going to get off the meds and get back to training.”
Lamas’ visit back to the doctor will be in mid-December to find out whether or not he’ll have to continue to take the medication for two more months. For now, Lamas is glad this situation didn’t escalate to anything serious.
“Worst-case scenario if a blood clot gets dislodged it could travel to your lungs or even your heart, so yeah it could be fatal,” Lamas explained. “Yeah, I just feel very fortunate, what else can you feel? I’m fortunate because in a case like that, something could’ve happened.”
Lamas doesn’t have an exact date planned for his return to the cage. He’s just focusing his health and his family.
“I felt good, so we’ll see,” Lamas said. “I’m just trying to take care of this right now. Got some blood tests done to see if I’m genetically predisposed to getting them or something, and if I am, we’re going to have to figure something out, but just taking it day by day. So we’ll deal with this first and then we’ll deal with the fighting afterwards.”