Limping noticeably on his left foot, Lindenhurst’s Ryan LaFlare appeared backstage at UFC 208 with a black right eye and a huge smile.
Despite his appearance, yes, he felt healthy after winning a unanimous decision against Roan Carneiro at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last Saturday.
“One of my biggest problems is I can’t stay healthy,” LaFlare said. “I fight one time a year because my hand’s injured, my knee’s injured. I think if I’m healthy and I’m active, no one’s beating me. You can say whatever you want, I only decision guys. Wait until you see the best Ryan LaFlare because it’s gonna shock a lot of people.”
LaFlare’s injury history is nearly as long as his fight history.
He fought three times in the UFC in 2013, then once in 2014, twice in 2015 and now once in 2017. As for 2016, well, that involved casts, medical procedures and rehab.
Some of LaFlare’s proclamation of good health last Saturday stemmed from the adrenaline of fighting at home for the first time, fighting in front of his father for the first time and being the first UFC fight in history to take place in Brooklyn.
On Wednesday, with the excitement long since worn off, LaFlare said he had “nothing major” wrong with his health. Just the same bruised foot and a few stitches. For LaFlare and his injury history, that’s a four-star movie review and an A-plus on a report card. The co-owner of Long Island MMA also said he’s thinking about trying to get on the UFC 211 card in Dallas in May.
LaFlare said he felt pain in his foot in the third round after kicking Carneiro in either the hip or elbow.
“I just knew that I can’t throw that kick again because I might shatter it and I might not be able to walk,” LaFlare said.
That’s the smarter LaFlare, now 33 years old and a 14-fight veteran (with 13 wins). He has learned to make the necessary adjustments in training as well as fighting to stay healthy.
“If you ask any of my training partners or my coaches, I was always the guy who went 100 percent,” LaFlare said. “My training camps were like a battle fight. Now I understand. I know how to fight. I don’t need to go out there and spar twice a week. I know what I need to do now. I know how to preserve my body. I’m a veteran. If I get hurt in the fight, it’s something that happens. But I think a lot of my injuries came from training. Now I know. I calm myself down a bit in training.”