Michaud, 32, broke the news Thursday on his Twitter account. He was set to face MacDonald on April 29 in the tournament-based PFL’s second Season 3 event, but said he has been diagnosed with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve with dilated aortic root. As a result, he said he’s at risk for a potentially fatal heart episode if he continues fighting.
So this is gonna be a tough post. After multiple tests on my heart including a Cardiac MRI and talking with multiple Cardiologists, I have been informed that I got a bad ticker. I have a Congenital bicuspid aortic valve with dilated aortic root. Unfortunately I was born with this— David Michaud (@bulldawg_170) April 8, 2021
because of the dilation of the aorta, fighting puts me at risk for an aortic dissection -- a tear in the aorta. That would be fatal under almost all circumstances. For this reason I will not be able to fight Rory Macdonald on April 29th, and unless anything changes, ever again.— David Michaud (@bulldawg_170) April 8, 2021
In a text message to MMA Fighting, Michaud wrote he learned of the condition as he underwent a standard pre-fight medical checkup. An EKG came back “abnormal” several times, he wrote, requiring more tests so he could be cleared by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, which regulates the April 29 event at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
“I’ve talked to a handful of cardiologists and they all told me fighting with it or any contact sports in general could prove fatal, as the aorta can tear or rupture from impact,” Michaud wrote. “This was all just in the last five, six days so as of right now, I am not sure what I am doing from here.”
The PFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Michaud has fought for several major MMA promotions, including the UFC, Bellator, LFA and most recently the PFL. He made it to the finals of the Season 2 welterweight tournament, winning three of four bouts before falling to Ray Cooper III in the finals.
MacDonald’s fight against Michaud marked MacDonald’s scheduled debut for the promotion after a stint in Bellator, where he won the welterweight title before ceding it in a rematch against current champ Douglas Lima; he also came up short in a bid to win the middleweight belt now held by Gegard Mousasi.
Michaud is not the only fighter whose career has been jeopardized by a heart condition. Former UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve that leaked, leaving him with drastically reduced blood flow to his heart. He did not undergo surgery and resumed his career later.
Former UFC commentator Dan Hardy was also sidelined after being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, though he has lobbied to resume fighting at his own risk.