TUF 9 winner Wilkes retires fearing paralysis from an old Rugby injury

Monday, May 14, 2012

The English welterweight James WIlks, who earned a contract with the UFC after beating DaMarques Johnson in the final of ‘The Ultimate Fighter: UK vs. USA’, has been forced to end his career due to injury. He has not fought for 18 months.

The announcement came via Twitter.

James Wilks UFC ‏ @lightningwilks
A few of you have been asking when my next fight is. Unfortunately, I have had to retire due to injury. Now coaching @lightningmma

Wilks retires with a record of seven wins and four losses in MMA, including one win and two defeats in the UFC. Most recently, he lost to Claude Patrick at UFC 120 in October 2010.

He will now concentrate on working as a coach alongside Mike “Joker” Guymon at Lightning MMA in Laguna Hills, Calif.

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In an interview with MMA Junkie, Wilks expanded on what forced his retirement in an interview with MMJunkie.

About five years after Wilks quit playing rugby as a teenager, a doctor pointed to an X-ray of his neck. Wilks had fractured a vertebra years earlier.

The 34-year-old Wilks decided to call it quits after doctors told Wilks he’d have a “significantly high risk of paralysis” if he continued fighting, he said.

“I must have been from rugby because I got asked when my neck got broken, and I said I’d never broken it, and then they showed me the X-ray,” Wilks said.

“I had problems in a couple of the fights that I didn’t really talk about. In one of the fights, I got hit, and the whole left side of my body went numb, all the way down to the toes.”

“My bones are touching the spinal cord. There should be a gap, so when you get hit, you’ve got some leeway for it not to cut into the vertebrae. But my vertebrae have grown from the front and back, and they’re touching the spinal cord.”

“I think if I was single and didn’t have a wife and a son to look after, I probably would have risked it. But I thought about it for quite a while and made the decision.”

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