Conor McGregor’s injury, recovery and future in MMA.
FanSided MMA sat down with Dr. Rand McClain, an expert in regenerative sports medicine who treats professional athletes and is the Chief Medical Officer of LCR Health on Wednesday. In the discussion we covered topics surrounding the recent brutal leg break that former UFC double champ, Conor McGregor suffered in the main event at UFC 264.
What exactly happened to Conor McGregor’s leg in medical terms?
“It’s actually a broken tibia and broken fibula. They’re both bones that we call ‘the lower leg’, meaning below the knee. That main bone below the knee is called a tibia, and to the lateral side of that is the fibula. As a bone it’s certainly much smaller and performs different functions, but the weight-bearing bone is the tibia.”
People seem to be calling this an ankle injury
“That’s definitely not correct, this is not an ankle fracture at all this would be a lower leg fracture. Definitely has nothing to do with the ankle side as well as about the ankle.”
There are people debating how and when Conor McGregor suffered this break. Perhaps on the elbow or knee of Dustin Poirier, others say it was when he stepped back. Medically, is it more likely one version happened than the other?
“I would submit to you that anyone who can look at the video would be hard pressed to believe that the first two scenarios, either the kick to the knee or the kick that met supposedly the elbow, were the cause of the fracture in both those cases. It didn’t look like they were the cause. In the first case, the kick to the knee, you can see that there was no contact or very low contact and not with enough energy, and therefore forced to cause a fracture or even a partial fracture. There was barely any contact. the contact look like it was more at the end of the foot rather than the tibia, which could have been damaging but that’s not what happened.
And then with the supposed kick to the elbow, if you look closely, and again you don’t have to be an expert to have a great view. That was a glancing blow and it really didn’t hit the elbow, it’s more of the inside of the arm and it wasn’t enough energy or force, you can see there wasn’t an abrupt stoppage. It’s just so obvious if you look at those two scenarios on video, that’s not what happened. He does seem to roll his ankle because the fracture occurs and he loses his balance.
And of course basic physics takes over and he rolls it laterally and probably to jump to the next question you might be asking me: so what was it? It’s hard to tell but it could have been cumulative. These are fighters and there’s a lot of contact with a tibia to multiple body parts that could have led to a weakening.”
Conor McGregor’s coach implied he had an ankle injury in camp. Could that have played a factor in the break to his leg?
“Certainly possible. If you have weakness in the ankle and you’re more likely to roll it, your positioning is such that you’re putting unusual pressure on the tibia. Force placed on the tibia to complete the break. It’s hard to tell if that was initiated by the ankle, or the rolling initiated by the break itself.”
How would you treat an injury like this?
“That’s a pretty easy fix. What they do is they drive a rod through the center of the bone and the bone on both sides. You might look at it as a simple diagram would be sticking a toothpick between two marshmallows and then putting the marshmallows together. And then that’s what the rod is for. For the fibula, what they essentially do is actually screw the strip of metal. So bone is really good at growing together once put next to each other and that’s all they’re doing. There’s other fighters to which this has happened, happens all the time in this sport.”
What kind of recovery will Conor McGregor most likely do?
“You’ve got a very well trained athlete who presumably will take great care of himself, he’ll probably be putting some pressure on that fairly soon, maybe even some mild pressure within three weeks. Within six weeks, he’ll probably be clear to walk on it, he won’t be able to do jumping jacks or jump around. By 12 weeks, he can have complete clarity to do whatever he wants.”
If you were treating an athlete like this, when do you think you’d clear them to fight again?
“Looking at him as an exceptional athlete, I would be more likely to give him the okay to get back in the ring sooner than your average person. He’s young, he would likely heal. I would probably say he can resume training as long as he’s not jumping up and down, he can start hitting the bag as early as three weeks. And then bicycle work, continuous bag work, and ring work at six weeks, and then again if everything’s going well, he would have full clearance. Most likely by 12 weeks to do everything else he feels like doing.”
Will this injury and the rods make Conor McGregor’s leg weaker or stronger?
“Certainly not weaker, but based on what I what I just relayed. You could make a case that is maybe a little bit stronger because not only do you have the bone now fully healed, but you could argue he’ll have a permanent extra support with the rod and the screws.”
McGregor underwent surgery on Sunday. His timetable for return is unknown at press time.
Article originally posted Fansided by Amy Kaplan.