UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith hasn't fought since submitting Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 11 on June 1, 2019. During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show, Smith explained why - he has been dealing with a hand break suffered during the fight.
"I had two [surgeries]," said Smith, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. "The first one failed. I went into my six-week checkup after my first surgery and the plate was broken and the bone had shifted back again... So they went back in, they took the plate off, they drilled one hole in my femur, one in my shin, and they took out the spongy bone material they used for bone grafts in my hand and then they put another plate on the side of it instead of on top because there are so many large holes. So they put it on the side and then filled the holes with the spongy bone from my leg. So that was a rough one. Then I couldn't close my hand for probably two months. My left hand."
"I almost cut my finger off. We were going to amputate my pointer finger because all the scar tissue was grabbing onto the ligament and not allowing it to close and slide back and forth. So the idea was that if we amputated the finger and then screwed those ligaments to the bone after it healed, that I could still use the other three fingers and my thumb to grapple but there would still technically be a knuckle there so I could punch."
"Some crazy old lady did this different type of therapy where they attached electricity to my wrist and my forearm and moved it around and was able to catch the muscle that closes the hand and really, she just crushed through the scar tissue. So once she put electricity to it, it forced my hand closed - because the bone was still healing and by forcefully closing it, you're putting a lot of tension on that break. I couldn't close it myself because I didn't have the strength, and as I'm not moving it, the scar tissue just continues to build and build and build so by attaching electricity to it, it's essentially me closing my own hand without someone else doing it with all that tension on the break. So once we tore through all that scar tissue the first time, we just did that every single day until I was able to get the movement back in it and now it's good...
"I was ready to go but my wife and the UFC wanted to explore other options first. So that crazy lady saved my finger for sure. I was ready just to say screw it all, I'm sick of this rehab stuff and scraping the scar tissue out of it and continually opening my hand up to get the scar tissue out. I was just ready to get back to fighting and cutting my finger off, at that time, was the fastest way."
"Look at that! I've got a fist now. Time to swing them things."
Smith fights Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 31 on April 25, 2020 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.