Before the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts career, Sean "The Destroyer" Loeffler (25-5) fell to the ground in pain.
Loeffler's ankle had given out.
Just minutes later, Loeffler was scratched from what was scheduled to be his UFC debut against fellow middleweight Buddy Roberts (11-2).
Instead of walking out to the bright lights of Omaha, Loeffler found himself being lifted into an ambulance and headed towards the closest hospital.
In a recent interview, Loeffler told Bleacher Report of the unfortunate circumstances that prevented him from making his first Octagon appearance.
Garrett Derr: Sean, for those who don't know what happened, explain how your injury occurred leading up to your bout with Buddy Roberts.
Sean Loeffler: "I was doing some squat jumps back stage where you tuck your knees and bring them up to your chest. My foot fell into a crack in the warm-up mat and I heard my ankle pop twice. Urijah Faber and everyone else in the locker room turned and they were in shock. Right away they all said it was terrible and my trainer Trevor told me it didn't look good. I did some shadow boxing and sprints while my adrenaline was still pumping."
"I told everyone this isn’t ballet, it’s fighting and that I was good to go. The doctor came to look at it and asked if it hurt. I said no, but it was killing me man. I kept saying no and it hurt worse and worse. I did some jumps, runs and hopped on one leg. I said I don’t care, I'm not letting a foot stop me. I've fought 12 years for this so I went to warm-up and it rolled over again as I fell to the ground. My coaches ran over and said we got to call it. I started crying, man."
"That was only the second time it ever happened in the history of the UFC. It happened to Kevin Randleman at UFC 24, so Zuffa told me I was making history. Buddy came over and was shocked with how big my ankle was. Eventually the ambulance came and took me to hospital. They shot me with some morphine and put me on a stretcher and I was off."
GD: How did Roberts respond to your injury?
SL: "You know, Buddy is a great guy. He understood and he knows that I wanted to be out there fighting. At the end of the day, this is a business and we both respect each other. I believe he'll be back in the Octagon fighting again soon. I apologized to him, but he understood there was nothing I could do. I wish him the best of luck because I know he'll be fighting soon."
GD: So, how did Dana White and Joe Silva respond to your injury? How did they react to everything that unfolded?
SL: "Dana talked to my coaches for about 15 minutes and said I would definitely be back fighting in the UFC. He put it on Facebook and Twitter that I'd be back. Joe Silva and I talked a few times. He told me at the hotel that I'm no sissy. He said he had a lot of respect for me and that I was 25-5 for a reason. They were really generous and I am thankful for everything they've done for me. They were really amazing to me."
GD: Following your injury came word that you may need surgery? Is there any truth behind this?
SL: "I won't know until I get an MRI actually. It was so swollen that the doctors said they've never seen something get so big in just an hour. The MRI wouldn’t show up through all the fluid. They told me that the good thing is that I have some bone fragment chips and they aren’t a big deal. He also said that he didn't think anything was fractured."
"Chances are it's a third-degree strain of the ligament. He won't be able to say if I'll need pins or not until after the MRI. He told me that I need to take this injury seriously and that's what I'm going to do. I need to let this heal because it could play a role in the rest of my career. This is the root to the tree."
GD: So, how did your sponsors react to your injury?
SL: "You know man, my sponsors are all great and I appreciate every single one of them. Some of them understood because there was nothing I could really do. I did everything in my power to fight. I appreciate Dana giving me TV time to show off my sponsors."
"However, some were a little disappointed with the injury as they invested their time and money into my career. I want to thank Booster Fight Shorts, Ground and Pound Fight Gear, Pain Theory Clothing, Luxery Sports Limousine, Lexani Wheels and Headrush. I hope they continue to believe in what I'm all about and I want them to know how thankful I am for all they do."
GD: Great. I wish you the best of luck Sean and hope for a speedy recovery.
SL: "Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to getting back at it in four to six months. Thanks to all those who've stuck with me through this. I will be back."
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