Saturday, May 19, 2018

Vitor Belfort was to have had his final fight vs. Uriah Hall at UFC Fight Night 124 on January 14 in St. Louis. However, the fight was canceled after Hall collapsed on the way to weigh-ins, and was hospitalized for two days. The fighter spoke recently with ESPN Staff Writer Brett Okamoto and said he almost died.

“I was walking to the elevator and boom, just like that, I collapsed,” said Hall. “I was in the elevator holding on to my best friend — apparently I bit him, to hold on to him. I passed out again…woke up and there were EMTs, a guy was trying to get a needle in me, and I remember swinging. I wasn’t in control of my body.

“I woke up in the hospital and was screaming for water. ‘Give me water! Give me water!’ They said, ‘We can’t give you water yet,’ for whatever reason. I grabbed my sister and said, ‘Tell them to please give me a sip of water.’ I never felt so thirsty in my life. They finally gave me a sip, and I passed out.”

“It’s hard for me to digest food. Two weeks prior to the fight, my coach, Robert Follis, took his life. That really affected me. And one of my best friends, we had to stop talking. It just made me really stressed out.

“I’ve cut weight over 20 times. I’m used to it. That one margin of error, that’s what cost me. I neglected a health issue. I didn’t pay attention to my body. My will took over; I would say my ego took over. There’s a time you need to listen to your body.”

“As close as I felt to death, I knew I was good. It’s a psychological thing, training your body and mind. You got nothing left but there’s that little hope. For a lot of people who aren’t athletes, to step foot into that uncomfortable situation – you’re basically gonna kill yourself when you fight, anything can happen – it’s hard to understand that mentality.

“The realm of a fight’s existence is to step outside of your comfort zone for a split second – to be so ridiculously uncomfortable that it’s frightening and scary – and only a few people have accomplished that. I’m one of those trying to accept that. One reason I’m doing it is because I’m frightened by it and I’m trying to understand it.”

Hall will again be cutting to middleweight for his fight vs. Paulo Costa at UFC 226 on July 7 in Las Vegas.

Weight divisions are supposed to make MMA safer but because the process is grossly mismanaged, it’s the most dangerous solvable issue in the sport. If Hall had died, the solution would be rapidly implemented. Because he didn’t, the 10 Point Plan devised by California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster is being adopted only incrementally. It works. The ABC medical committee supports it. The ABC has adopted it. The UFC supports it and will continue to adopt further parts of it. The sport has two choices – adopt a sane approach to weight cutting now, or wait until someone famous dies and then do it. In the mean time, all the weight cutting is causing tremendous organ damage, and it’s all for nothing.