Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ruptured ACL Is A Major Setback For Shogun

The UFC announced today that Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has withdrawn from his fight with Chuck Liddell, scheduled for June 7th in London, after suffering a ruptured ACL in his left knee, the same injury he sustained last year. The knee was surgically repaired following his fight with Forrest Griffin, and now he will undergo the same surgery for a second time.

The big question is this: will Shogun ever be the same? Most likely, he will not. In fact, he may not even be able to compete again. The Brazilian fighter already looked somewhat diminished in his fights following the broken arm he suffered at the hands of Mark Coleman. With this second rupture of his knee, Rua has now had three major injuries in the last year and a half, injuries from which many athletes never recover.

In football, when a running back tears an ACL, it's almost guaranteed he'll never be the same again. While there are a few exceptions to the rule, most are a shadow of their former selves (see: Edgerrin James.) Of course, MMA doesn't require the same high speed change of direction as football, but, as anyone who has trained in MMA can attest, the sport places considerable strain on joints and ligaments. Now consider a rupture:
Complete ACL ruptures have a much less favorable outcome [than tears.] After a complete ACL tear, some patients are unable to participate in cutting or pivoting-type sports, while others have instability during even normal activities such as walking. There are some rare individuals who can participate in sports without any symptoms of instability. This variability is related to the severity of the original knee injury as well as the physical demands of the patient.
Shogun has had two ruptures in the same knee, making a miraculous comeback far less likely. There is a chance, however small, that he is one of those rare individuals who can fully recover
from a ruptured ACL, but the chances of him recovering from two are incredibly slim.

Now here are some choice excerpts from a numbingly thorough Australian article on ACL ruptures:
Rupture of the ACL causes significant short term and long term disability...The most common cause of ACL rupture is a traumatic force being applied to the knee in a twisting moment. This can occur with either a direct or an indirect force...I have also noticed a significant number of patients having ruptured their ACL who also have instability of the shoulder. I believe both these groups have a generalized ligamentous disorder.
He goes on to say that hyper-fit athletes may be able to resume training six months after surgery if they receive an immediate diagnosis and early surgery. So at the very best, Shogun is going to spend 6 months on the shelf, which probably means he couldn't be back in fighting shape, if he is able to train at a high level again, for at least 9 months (more realistically 12.) Additionally, his knee will almost certainly have some permanent disability, to compliment whatever damage remains to his arm/psyche from the Coleman bout.

Far from just mourning the cancellation of the much anticipated Shogun/Liddell match-up, fans ought to wonder if they will ever see Shogun fight again. Not what anyone wanted to hear, I know, but an injury like this cannot be glossed over. With luck and perfect genetics, he may be able to put this early-career crisis behind him and smash his way back to the top of the MMA world (cross your fingers.) Without it, he may become a highly sought-after coach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good write up!

I really hope you're wrong!

I wonder where he will have his surgery at? Will it be in the states?