Junior Dos Santos hospitalized with severe cellulitis, withdraws from Alexander Volkov fight

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

Junior Dos Santos, the former UFC heavyweight champion, has been hospitalized since Oct. 14 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was forced to pull out of his planned Nov. 9 bout in Moscow against Alexander Volkov.

Dos Santos developed a severe case of cellulitis, a bacterial infection, which he first noticed was red and sore after kicking a bag during training on Oct. 10. When it got worse the following day, he was advised by his doctor to go to the hospital. He kept holding out hope he could fight, but near midnight on Sunday, Oct. 13, the area got painful and hot to the touch.

On Oct. 15, his doctor created a pair of three-to-four-inch incisions in his leg to allow fluid that had been accumulating to drain. He has tubes connected to a vacuum that are continuously pumping the fluid out.

It was so bad that Dos Santos’ superb physical conditioning saved him from a potential loss of his leg, or even death if the bacteria had gotten to the bloodstream and spread throughout his body.

Dos Santos said he wanted to keep the news of the infection quiet in hopes he’d be able to resume training and still fight Volkov, but his doctor quickly put an end to that.

“He was explaining to me, ‘No. You’re not understanding very well. It’s a very bad thing that happened to you. You’re lucky because you’re a strong man, a healthy man, but this is a very bad thing. You cannot fight. You cannot go to the fight and you cannot get hit in this leg because you could probably lose your leg,’ ” Dos Santos said.

Junior Dos Santos of Brazil walks out towards the Octagon prior to facing Francis Ngannou of Cameroon in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Target Center on June 29, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty Images)

The infection will create a financial mess for Dos Santos, because like most fighters at the top level of the sport, he invested a lot of money in his training camp. He brought his family from their home in Florida to be with him in Brazil while he prepared.

In addition, his eight-day-and-counting medical stay will create expenses more difficult to cover because of the fact that as independent contractors, fighters don’t get paid if they don’t compete.

But he said he also felt bad for Volkov, who through no fault of his own lost a significant bout. Dos Santos is hopeful of rescheduling the bout with Volkov, perhaps in January.

“I don’t feel sad just for me, but I look at it from the side of Volkov,” Dos Santos said. “He was putting a lot of money out, putting in time, putting everything you have into your training camp, because that’s everything for us. If we don’t fight, we don’t make money. How are we going to make a living for our families and take care of our kids [if we don’t get paid]? I brought my family [to Brazil].

“I cannot stay away from that for that long. I brought my whole family to Brazil and I’m spending a lot of money here. I know it’s part of the thing. It happens, but it’s not good. It’s very bad. I hope to get better as soon as possible so I can fight again.”

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