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Li Jingliang details spine injury that forced him off of UFC 287: ‘I tried to power through it’

MMA: SEP 09 UFC 279
Li Jingliang
Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Li Jingliang is out of UFC 287, but hoping to avoid a long layoff after an injury scare.

The UFC welterweight contender took to social media this past weekend to discuss the spine injury that forced him to withdraw from his bout with Michael Chiesa, which was set to take place at Saturday’s pay-per-view in Miami. Li’s injury occurred during his training camp for UFC 287, though he wrote that it is due to an “accumulated effect” and not one particular incident.

See Li’s Instagram post below, which includes an X-ray of his spine and video of him receiving a diagnosis.

“As many of you already know, I injured my spine during fight camp and was forced to withdraw from my fight against Michael Chiesa at UFC 287,” Li wrote. “The injury was an accumulated effect from all the rigorous training that I had put my body through in the past several months especially all the extra BJJ and wrestling work I put in to prepare for beating a submission artist. I was feeling extremely confident and was never so ready for a fight when the injury happened.

“I’d been waiting for too long for my moment since last year so I tried to power through it until I reached a point where the pain was worsening and expanding across my entire upper body; no amount of physical therapy or ibuprofen was able to fix the problem; and my fight preparation was completely stalled because of it. When the doctors explained to me how dangerous it would be for me to keep pushing my limits, I decided to wise up and take their advice to let my body heal.”

Li went on to explain that he is hoping to avoid surgery and that the injury will “heal organically.” There is no timetable for Li’s return to action.

“The Leech” most recently fought at UFC 279 this past September, where he lost a narrow split decision to Daniel Rodriguez. The 35-year-old has alternated wins and losses in his past six outings, with notable knockout victories over Muslim Salikhov and Santiago Ponzinibbio.

See Li’s unedited statement here:

This is a disappointing situation to say the least. As a professional fighter, my job is to fight, and to provide for my family with the honest work I put in with my bare hands. I love what I do, and because of it I understand the need to play the long game and be responsible for my own health. I chose fighting as my career - so decisions like this must not be based on ego, but on my long term commitment to the sport I love.

I’m recovering and getting better, they will reevaluate my progress in the near future and decide on the next steps for my treatment plan. A spine surgery is not completely out of the question, but I hope to let it heal organically with the help from medical professionals so I can come back sooner.

Life will always throw you curve balls, just keep fouling them off. The right pitch will come, and when it does, I will be prepared to knock it out of the park.

I will be back.

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