Thiago Alves has reportedly emerged from a New York City hospital surgical center today following a successful eight-hour surgical procedure, numerous news websites are reporting.
Alves had been originally scheduled to face Jon Fitch at UFC 111 in New Jersey, when during a routine CAT scan during his pre-fight medical exam, an irregularity in his brain was brought to his attention. Within mere days of his scheduled bout with Fitch, news like this must’ve taken Alves for a psychological ride he never expected to take.
Dana White apologized to fans, and scrambled to book Ben Saunders as a three-days-notice replacement for Fitch (huge kudos go to Saunders for stepping in against Fitch, of all fighters*). Alves described what he was staring down as a “minor procedure” that he’d return from within a couple of weeks. Exhibiting an admirable strength of mind and will, he showed no sway in his swagger, and within the line of sight of his fans, treated this news as though it were like any other injury.
It’s rare that we have such a raw opportunity to survey examples of what it is to truly be thankful for our health, and prior to UFC 111, Thiago Alves had a lot to be thankful for. Most of us will never have to hear news like that in relation to our own health, and that’s something to appreciate.
The progressively developing sport of Mixed Martial Arts is a risk-riddled venture into the unknown for its athletes. Fighters like Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, though not even into their mid-thirties, look to be much older and physically tried than others of their same generation competing in different professional sports.
It’s arguable that the shelf-life of a Mixed Martial Artist, due to the debilitating impact that the damage incurred over one’s career can have on the body over time, is much shorter than that of a professional soccer player, for example. With fighters such as Randy Couture representing our modern day’s lone exception to that rule, the sport as a whole has seen a sequential changing of guard throughout every weight class in the major organizations every five or so years.
Mind you, Alves turns 27 on October 3rd of this year, 2010.
At this point in his career, being so young and having nearly as many fights as you do years alive on the planet, Thiago has made a commitment to sacrifice his body to success in his sport, whatever the cost. While every athlete participating in the sport today takes to this commitment on some level, a select few take the ideology and absolutely own it.
Thiago’s one of those.
At only 17 years old, his first-ever professional fight resulted in a loss by submission. His second fight, also before his age of 18, resulted in another loss. It wasn’t until his third professional fight, his third fight in less than four months’ time, that he scored win numero uno. Upon entering the UFC a little over two years later, Spencer Fisher greeted him by handing him his first loss.
Since starting slow and joining the UFC in 2003, Thiago Alves has gone on to KO Tony DeSouza, Chris Lytle, Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck. 9-3 in the UFC at only 26 years of age, Thiago has a long way to go. Last week, that “long way to go” nearly became a dead-end street.
Thiago’s anticipated “minor procedure” reportedly ended up taking eight hours, and involved the surgical separation of an artery from a vein inside of his brain. The surgery was a complete success with no complications, and Thiago will spend two days secluded in ICU before returning home to recovery.
Also reportedly, his first words upon awakening from anesthesia were “When can I start training again?”
As he anticipated, Dana says he’ll be back to training within a couple of weeks, and is projected to return to competition within one to two months. Though he’s expressed interest in fighting at UFC 112, he was expressing that prior to the procedure, and that’s about two weeks away. You have to appreciate the enthusiasm, the ambition, and the stubbornness of this young warrior.
Our wishes for a speedy recovery, and our satisfaction with the work of the doctors who performed the procedure on Thiago, could never be truly conveyed through written word. The prayers we said for Thiago and his family the night we heard of this staggering news apparently made their way to the proper deity, and all is well. We’re thankful Thiago is going to be okay, and anxious to see him return to competition.
We also would like to give him a sincere notion of gratitude for giving us, as fans, another reason to appreciate what the athletes shaping our sport today are putting themselves through to do it.