MMA fighter Jeff Dunbar fought Rudy Bahena last weekend as part of the Fight Card Entertainment event that took place in Joliet, Illinois on December 17th, 2011. The freak-accident started when Bahena stuck to Dunbar’s back and sinked in a standing rear-naked choke. Instead of tapping out, Dunbar tried something UFC fighter Tyson Griffin did in his fight against Clay Guida at UFC 72. The 20-year old Dunbar desperately dove forward in hopes to shake off the choke, but instead he hurled both himself and his opponent forward. The weight was too much for Dunbar’s neck to handle, which led to instant paralysis. His doctors say he won’t be able to ever use his legs and will be placed in a wheel chair. He may get some use of his arms back, but there’s a 95% chance he’ll never get to use his hands either.
Our prayers go out to him and his family. We’ve seen miracles happen such as former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir, who injured himself in a motorcycle accident. He was told by his doctors that he would never be able to step into the Octagon again, but miraculously we now see him hunting for a title shot in the UFC heavyweight division again. UFC middleweight fighter Alan Belcher suffered an eye injury that would leave him out of the cage as well, but we recently saw him make his return to the cage as well. We truly hope that Dunbar will someday be able to recover.
Dunbar’s MMA trainer, Josh Bulak (operates Chicago’s No Comment Martial Arts Gym), commented on the freak-accident:
“They went down…Jeff’s opponent didn’t know what happened, and he just finished the choke. But then the paramedics rushed in, and he was taken away on a gurney…They said he’d be fine. They said, ‘Everything should be OK…[Immediately after Dunbar’s fight] Everyone (Dunbar’s fight team) from the team wanted to go. I told them I’d meet them at the gym later since everything was supposed to be fine. [After visiting Dunbar at the hospital] The doctor didn’t sugarcoat anything. They told him he’d never walk again. It was a crushing blow…We’ve never practiced that in class. He just sort of pile-drived himself. That probably would’ve been the third or fourth way I’d teach him to get out of that. It’s more of a desperation move. You can’t really practice it. You don’t practice stuff like that. It’s just a freak thing. He should have tapped. I just wish he would have tapped…I can’t point fingers at anyone. Other promoters in Chicago are trying to point fingers, but I don’t think there’s anything that could have been done differently to prevent this. [After talking to Dunbar at the hospital] I got yelled at by Jeff because someone said my passion was gone, that I sort of checked out. It’s been hard for the gym to go back there, though. It’s hard to teach after that. Life is supposed to go on, but to see someone so young injured like that, it hurt. It hit me hard…Broken arms, broken noses – that’s about as worse I thought it was going to be. I never thought something this serious would happen…He knows it’s going to be a long road. I don’t know if it’ll happen, but it’s his goal: Like every other fighter, he still just wants to make it to the UFC.”