When Chris Weidman suffered a devastating broken leg just 17 seconds into his fight with Uriah Hall at UFC 261 in April, he had no idea how long it would take him to walk again much less get back into the gym.
As if the broken leg wasn’t bad enough, Weidman also endured a compound fracture, which meant part of his bone literally shot through his calf muscle and came out through his skin on the other side. The pain was immeasurable and his initial thoughts swirled around the possibility that he might have to undergo an amputation because the damage to his leg was so severe.
Just seven weeks later, Weidman posted a video to his Instagram page that showed him not only standing on his own two feet but he was actually hitting pads with a teammate in his gym.
No one could have imagined that scenario based on the haunting scene that surrounded the end of his fight not quite two months ago, and even Weidman was a little shocked at his progress.
“I woke up on Thursday and I’m like I feel good today, I’m going to go to the gym,” Weidman told MMA Fighting. “I figured I’m going to go to the gym, get a workout in, maybe hit the bag for like a minute or two, lay down, put my leg up but just be happy being in the gym, see the guys and smell the dirty mats again, which I love.
“So I got there and there’s a couple guys that I train with that were training and doing some kickboxing and I was like that bag is just not as fun so I said, ‘Get over here.’ We started doing some drills, we started doing some play sparring. Got a full workout in, like a circuit with push-ups and ab work. Probably did about an hour and I was up on my feet the whole time, which is crazy. I think I’m getting better and better.”
Almost every second of every day since his horrific injury has seen Weidman do something in an effort to get back to normal, while also understanding he had an arduous journey ahead of him.
In addition to his return to the gym for a light sparring session, Weidman also recently spent 18 holes on the golf course, standing and walking as much as he could handle while still operating on a broken leg.
As displayed in those same series of photos that showed him throwing punches and teeing off on the golf course, Weidman also revealed a look at his current set of x-rays.
“My fibula bone is still completely broken,” Weidman said. “It’s displaced. The goal is it starts getting closer and closer and mends together. Then my tibia bone is completely fractured so I’m relying on that rod that is going through the middle of it to deal with the weight bearing.
“There’s a butterfly fracture that fragmented off that causes inflammation. It’s annoying. He might — hopefully he doesn’t, but he might — have to do a quick surgery to get that out if it doesn’t heal with the tibia bone.”
While it might seem odd to see Weidman standing or even walking on a pair of broken bones, he explains how that’s actually an ideal situation in terms of the healing process for his leg.
“It really just comes down to me and what I can tolerate,” Weidman said. “I’m really just trying to push it. I’m trying to go back to normal quick. I’m starting up strength and conditioning workouts, like legit ones I was doing pre-fight, and then I’m going to start doing some MMA stuff, so I’m right back in there.”
Weidman said his doctors even told him to ditch the crutches as much as possible because that would help to speed up the healing for his leg.
“I’m trying to control everything I can control on my own,” he said. “That’s all I can do and stay positive. Keep praying. That’s really all I can do. I’m eating healthy now, I’m on this new diet. A diet that really fights against inflammation, I guess an anti-inflammation diet is the best way to explain it.
“I’m up on my leg like my doctor told me to so I’m doing everything I possibly can. We’ll see what happens.”
Now it’s probably obvious that all of this seems like a best-case scenario for Weidman considering the trauma he suffered to his leg just a matter of weeks ago.
That said, the New York native is still realistic about the slew of possible setbacks he could face moving forward because no particular outcome surrounding an injury like this is guaranteed.
In fact, there’s still potential for his leg to be amputated if the blood flow doesn’t return to normal as his body recovers. Weidman wrapped his head around that possibility a long time ago, but he also understand how much staying positive can mean to his recovery.
“There’s still a lot of things I’m going to have to deal with,” Weidman explained. “Even taking out that piece of bone that’s floating in there, that’s the most minimal thing I’m thinking about but it’s something. The blood supply coming back to my leg completely is the big thing — I’m not even worried about it but that would be the biggest issue. That would mean amputation. So let’s just keep praying that I get full blood supply back.
“That’s exactly what happened to my thumb. I have a hip bone that’s in this thumb right here because bone did deteriorate and blood supply did not come back after I fought Kelvin Gastelum. The tibia bone is the most likely bone not to take and to have issues getting blood supply coming back after breaking it. I figured I kicked it as hard as I can, and I know I kicks hard, so it’s a very traumatic fracture. That being said, I think I’m good. The doctor said he thinks there is some healing going on in there and there’s some rebuilding of bone, so that’s a very good sign.”
Weidman added that his fibula bone — the one in the x-ray that’s still completely broken apart — could need to be pinned together if it doesn’t rejoin on its own, but again that’s not what the doctors are hoping happens.
They all might seem like terrifying possibilities, but Weidman solely continues to focus on getting better with each passing day.
“I feel so much better mentally. It’s insane,” Weidman said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk again. I actually made it OK in my mind if I couldn’t walk again. I was super sad about that, but I was kind of going through every bad thing that could possible happen here.
“So for me to be able to do what I’m doing, I’m so grateful. Not taking it for granted.”
As much as Weidman enjoyed being back in the gym, he knows he’s still several months away from actually training at the level where he would be competing in the UFC again.
But like the famed proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step — and judging by how far he’s come along already, Weidman has already hit the ground running.
“There’s still a lot of milestones I’ve got to get through and I’m sure there’s going to be some setbacks, but I’m prepared for it,” Weidman said. “Nothing’s going to break me. I’ll just keep moving forward. If at the end of the day, I’m in the gym and as I’m as good as the doctors say I’m going to get and I can’t do anything that I used to be able to do, I’m not going to fight.
“If I think I can be the best in the world, and I can do what I need to do with this leg, then I’m going to fight.”