Broken hands, a busted foot, a banged-up knee.
Chris Weidman has been here before, injured and awaiting medical professionals to put him back together so he can continue working as a professional mixed martial artist in the UFC.
But this — a pending neck surgery to address herniated discs — this one is different.
“I’ve had so many surgeries, but this one kind of skeeves me out” said Weidman, who was appearing on behalf of Reebok at a meet and greet for fans at Modell’s in Times Square. “My neck. Going in through the front my neck, it just bothers me. When I had the epidural, I was miserable, man. They went through my back and I could hear this thick needle going through my muscle. This whole neck thing is bothering me. I can’t believe I’m getting neck surgery.”
Weidman will have surgery next Wednesday in Manhattan. Weidman said Dr. K. Daniel Riew will perform the surgery at Columbia University Medical Center.
On May 18, Weidman pulled out of his scheduled rematch against middleweight champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in Los Angeles this Saturday. Rockhold now faces Michael Bisping.
“My neck, it was just . . . ” Weidman said. “Oh my God. The pain, it just took everything out of me.”
He was on painkillers. They didn’t help. He didn’t want to leave his house. He couldn’t sleep through the night. Doctors suggested different positions for sleeping. That didn’t work. A second epidural two weeks after the first brought the pain to a level manageable enough to enjoy his sister’s wedding.
“There was no position I could find to alleviate the pain,” he said.
Weidman, from Baldwin, described the procedure by saying doctors will drill a small hole in the front of his neck through his vertebrae and scoop out the herniation.
Doctors expect to be able to tell right away if the procedure was a success based on the pain level in his neck and the return of strength in his left triceps. “I should be able to throw him off me,” Weidman said before demonstrating the difference of strength in his right arm compared with his left arm at this moment. It is considerable.
If it is a success, Weidman could resume lower-body strength and conditioning right away and then upper-body work in about four weeks. Weidman added that if it is not a success, doctors then would perform a different surgery on the herniated discs in his neck.
Weidman (13-1, 9-1 UFC) said he sought multiple medical opinions in New York City and Pittsburgh and spoke with other athletes who had similar injuries, including former Olympic and WWE wrestler Kurt Angle and UFC fighters Rick Story and Mark Coleman, before reaching his decision of which surgical procedure to do.
In the weeks of training leading up to UFC 199, Weidman said he didn’t really notice any weakness in his left arm. But looking back now, the pieces add up.
He couldn’t do more than 12 pullups while attending a wrestling tournament a few months ago. “I was telling myself maybe I’m getting old,” he said.
Hitting pads with trainer Ray Longo, Weidman could barely throw a double jab without issue. The orthodox fighter has been at this sport for more than seven years. He shouldn’t have to struggle to throw one jab, let alone two.
“It felt like I had to put so much thought into just pushing this out,” Weidman said.
It was Weidman’s coaches and family who talked him out of trying to push through the injury, like he has done so many times before. He fought Lyoto Machida with a broken left hand. He fought Rockhold the first time last December with a broken foot.
“It was a rematch for the belt,” Weidman said about UFC 199. “I don’t know when I’m going to get that opportunity again. Nothing’s guaranteed.”
He has an idea, though.
Dressed in a white UFC New York Reebok shirt on Thursday as more than 100 fans waited on line, Weidman made his next fight plan clear: Nov. 12, 2016, UFC 205, Madison Square Garden. For the title.