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Chris Weidman details ‘one-in-a-million’ injury that’s kept him sidelined for nearly a year

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Nearly a year has passed since Chris Weidman got back to his winning ways with a victory over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 25.

So where has the former middleweight king been?

Weidman opened up about his long layoff on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. The 33-year-old New Yorker revealed that he has effectively been stuck in limbo, sidelined by an injury that didn’t seem to be getting better. His issues stemmed from a torn ligament he suffered in his thumb in the opening round the Gastleum fight. And though that sounds like an ordinary injury with a fairly straightforward recovery timetable, the reality of the situation ended up being far more frustrating that Weidman ever could’ve imagined.

“After the fight, I ended up going to the doctor and I found that I needed to get surgery, so I got the surgery,” Weidman told host Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “They took a tendon out of my wrist and used that to create a new ligament from my thumb. And they told me it was going to be kind of a quick recovery. It ended up being eight months until I realized that, I guess, during the trauma of the surgery, the bones — when they drilled through the bones, it’s a very one-in-a-million chance, the blood supply didn’t come back to the bones, so the bones were like falling apart.

“They crushed all the cartilage between the joint, and it was pretty painful for the last eight months as I was trying to train and get through it.”

Everything changed once Weidman discovered the root of his problem.

He finally had an answer to the baffling question of why his injury wasn’t getting any better, so he immediately underwent a second surgery to correct the “one-in-a-million” issue with the bones in his hand. Since then, Weidman has been hard at work in rehabilitation and has been given a special cast and a “bone stimulator” by doctors to help speed a recovery that has the former middleweight champion feeling more optimistic than he has in months.

“At least now I found out there was a problem,” Weidman said.

“They took my hip bone and they created a new joint, and it’s feeling pretty good. They’re telling me six-to-eight weeks of recovery, so it’s way better than eight months.

“When I take this [cast] off, I kinda move my thumb around a little bit, it just feels so much better,” Weidman added. “I was in so much pain for eight months. Every morning I would wake up and try to be hopeful and tell myself it’s feeling better, and then it just wasn’t feeling better. So I’m just happy that there’s a reason for why I was going through all of that pain. There’s no more confusion and I know exactly what’s going on, and I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now and it’s not too far away, so we’re good.”

Weidman said he visited his doctor last week for a follow-up appointment to remove the stitches from his hand. Finally, he sees a viable path that’ll get him back to the Octagon.

So for now, Weidman said he isn’t holding fast to a specific timetable for his return. He expects his next fight to take place before the end of the year, but that’s about as far as he’ll go. He said he’ll worry about dates and opponents once his hand issues are finally resolved, but he is confident that his best days in the UFC are still ahead of him.

“The fact that I was out as long as I was is insane, and the chance of that ever happening is extremely, extremely small, like I said,” Weidman explained. “The surgeons I went to, even for second opinions, they said they’d never seen it before as a doctor, so I got unlucky. And it’s feeling great. I’m very positive and I’ll be back and better than ever.”