Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos’ optimistic assessment this week that he will return to action “in six months” has been questioned by the physician who attended to him inside the cage on Saturday night.
Dr Chris Lam is one of the most respected doctors in European combat sports, yet even with his wealth of experience, attending to the freak fractured skull injury caused by Michael ‘Venom’ Page’s spectacular flying knee at Bellator 158 came as a shock.
Speaking to Fighters Only, Dr Lam said it wasn’t something he had ever seen in the ring or cage before, but he knew immediately it required swift action by the medical team on hand at London’s O2 Arena.
“It’s an unusual injury, one I’ve never seen it before in the cage,” says Lam. “I’ve never seen it in any form of combat sport in fact. At the time you could clearly see there was a great big dent in his forehead.
“So when we assessed him, the immediate concern for us was, he obviously had a fracture which needed urgent treatment there and then. Our plan was to get him from the arena to the hospital as we quick as we could. We estimated that it took us about 20 minutes from the end of the fight to getting him to the hospital.”
Lam concedes that he’s witnessed and attended too some incredible injuries during his time in fight sports, but the fractured skull Santos suffered was likely the most intense. He adds: “Short of someone collapsing from bleeding of the brain, which you can’t see, in terms of physical appearance it’s the most dramatic injury I’ve seen.”
And so when Santos, who made the decision to fly back to the US before having surgery, made claims earlier this week that he intended to return to action “in six months”, Lam reveals the fighter’s optimism is unfounded. In fact, Dr Lam doubts that he will ever fight again.
“I can tell you for a fact he will not be competing in six months time,” Lam states. “Not with an injury like that. I certainly don’t know whether he would even ever fight again.”
For the MMA community it was certainly a rare injury to witness and goes to show how unforgiving this sport can be. Lam believes that as unfortunate and tragic as this injury was, he doesn’t believe it’s something we’ll see again for a very long time.
“In regards to the sport it’s highly unusual injury,” Lam adds. “It literally takes a specific sort of shot, to a specific part of the head to cause that. So you are talking a pin point accurate knee or a pin point accurate elbow straight on the forehead to do something like that. It’s very rare.
“The chance of us seeing that type of injury again in the near future is not that high. I don’t think we’ll see another injury like that in the next five years, that’s how unusual it is.”