Alexander Volkanovski almost lost his left leg after repeatedly peppering Jose Aldo with kicks in his UFC 237 victory in Rio de Janeiro on May 11.
The UFC featherweight told The Daily Telegraph that had he not had a layover in Chile on his way home to Australia, a bacterial blood infection would have likely cost him his leg — and maybe his life.
During the layover in Chile, Volkanovski said he had a fever and was feeling delirious, prompting him to seek medical attention. He was rushed to a hospital. The swelling and redness around his foot wasn’t just due to the repeated blows he delivered in the fight. He learned he had a blood infection.
Doctors: Layover saved Volkanovski’s leg
Had he gotten on his next connection to New Zealand, doctors told him he probably wouldn’t have had time to save his leg.
“If I had got on that second flight, what they were really concerned about was the infection getting into my tendons and bones, Volkanovski told The Telegraph. “Especially with the air pressure in the cabin. I’ve been told they would’ve had to turn the flight around but, even then, by the time I got onto the antibiotics ... you’re talking the type of problems that end a career.
“It was so serious my leg could have been amputated. There was even a chance I could have died.”
Volkanovski said he had a fever of 40 degrees Celsius — which converts to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
In an update he provided from the Chile hospital last week, Volkanovski praised the medical team taking care of him and delivered the news that he was past the worst.
“We got the message this morning that it’s not in any of the tendons, so that’s very, very good,” Volkanovski said. “It will be all smooth sailing from now, I think. I’m still getting fevers here and there, but that’s just normal. The worst is done, which is good.”
Doesn’t know how he got infected
In his interview with the Telegraph, Volkanovski said he’s not sure of the origins of the infection.
“Who knows?” Volkanovski said. “It was reported that Aldo had a bacterial infection early in his camp. “So I could say it’s from there.
“Or you could connect it to being in Brazil, your training partners, the kicks during the fight, my immune system being down afterwards ... or it could’ve just been me.”
Volkanovski already looking toward title shot
Now back home in Australia, Volkanovski is feeling well enough to lament not getting an immediate title shot at champion Max Holloway as the division’s new No. 1 contender.
Holloway is slated to face Frankie Edgar next at UFC 240 in July in Canada.
But Volkanovski is expected to get his shot at the winner of the Edgar-Holloway fight. And it could come in an anticipated November card in his home Australia that would feature a middleweight bout between Rob Whittaker and Israel Adesanya, a friend and training partner who is the interim champion.
"Obviously to have Max and myself on that card, as well as Izzy and Rob Whittaker, you can imagine how big [that would be] for pay-per-views. We're talking serious money for them, so that's something they want,” Volkanovski told ESPN. “I think the UFC wants that, too. It's going to be massive this side of the world.”
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