A year after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Vicente Luque slams the decision to win against Rafael dos Anjos
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A year after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Vicente Luque slams the decision to win against Rafael dos Anjos

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 12: Vicente Luque prepares to fight Rafael dos Anjos of Brazil in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 12, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Vicente Luque didn’t know if he’d fight again before Saturday’s victory over Rafael dos Anjos. (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – For the better part of a year, Vicente Luque wasn’t sure if his career was coming to an unofficial end at the age of 31. Not only did Luque lose for the second time in a row on August 6, 2022, when he was beaten by Jeff Neal, He was about to end his career.

Post-fight tests that night showed that Luque had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, which is known medically as a subdural hematoma. A large number of boxers who died in the ring did so after developing a subdural hematoma.

The Nevada Athletic Commission medically suspended Locke for a year after the fight, and since they did not reinstate him after the year was up, it was in effect a permanent ban.

Despite this, Luque wanted to fight again. The Nevada Commission’s physicians did not thoroughly examine him and find him fit for combat, but the commission sought outside experience. I had him see an independent neurologist and an independent neurosurgeon, both of which he vouched for.

So, ahead of the main event of UFC Vegas 78 versus former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday at Apex in anticipation of his return earlier this month. The suspension was finally lifted during Fight Week.

Commissioner Dr. David Watson and CEO Jeff Mullen spoke to Yahoo Sports before the fight to point out the lengths the commission went to before the fight to ensure Luque didn’t take greater risks than any other fighter.

Watson told Yahoo Sports that there is nothing in the medical literature that arbitrarily precludes a fighter from competing after a subdural hematoma, but for the most part, it has been career-ending.

Luque had his insecurities when he was walking to the cage and especially when he was injured for the first time. But he survived and went on to pull off a hard-fought five-round victory. He won 49-46 and 48-47 twice on the judges’ cards in a remarkable display of courage and toughness, then was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons and did not attend the post-fight press conference.

“I’ve never been afraid of anything, but I was afraid I would never do it again,” Loki said in the octagon after the fight. “For all of you watching who don’t believe in miracles anymore, I’m proof of that, (that they do exist). I worked my ass off and thank God, healed me and brought me back.”

Every fighter has nerves before a match. There is a natural sense of insecurity that exists in all of us, and going out to fight someone else in front of the world leaves an athlete exposed in a tough way.

But fighting with knowing the significance of a brain bleed, what has happened to so many other brave warriors, and then continuing to make that march takes a special breed of person.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 12: (LR) Vicente Luque kicks Welterweight Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 12, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

(From left) Vicente Luque defeated Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision on Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 78. (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“I mean, it’s terrifying,” said Chub Swanson, who defeated Hakeem Dawodu by unanimous decision in the co-main event.

Swanson suffered a terrible injury to the left side of his face that required surgery. He had plates inserted in his face as part of the repair, and he admitted it was difficult when he walked to the appraiser afterwards.

Then you’re like, ‘Yeah, I can do that. He said. This is the insanity of what we do. But then when you’re backstage, you’re like, ‘You better do this.’ You better do this. It really creeps up on that time.”

Luque got hurt with his right hand early in the fight and acted like it wasn’t a big deal.

At that point, it was just another fight. But Locke had his doubts.

“I didn’t know how I was going to respond,” he said. (At one point), I thought, ‘Okay, I’m fine, but I don’t want to get hit anymore. “

Not only did he manage to survive, but he won the Dos Anjos match. And now, after a year of wondering if he’ll ever be able to do what he loves and what he does to support his family, he’s now thinking about heroism.

He wants to fight someone in the top five with the aim of getting the championship title.

“I needed to develop to reach a higher level and I will continue to do so,” he said.

The fact that he performed as well as he did under the pressure he had to crush is remarkable. He’s a long way from winning the title, but now that he’s overcome this, who would suspect he’d pull off something as simple as a championship run?

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