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Exclusive: Thiago Alves: ‘Pre-Fight Medicals May Have Saved My Life’

http://www.cagepotato.com/exclusive-thiago-alves-‘pre-fight-medicals-may-have-saved-my-life’



Three weeks ago, and only a few days prior to his UFC 111 showdown with fellow UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch, officials from the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB) discovered an abnormality in Thiago Alves’ brain and pulled him from the card. If left untreated, Doctors informed the 24-year-old that the affliction could have proven fatal had he incurred any brain trauma from fighting or even sparring.

NJSACB medical official, Dr. Sherry Wulkan is credited with discovering Alves’ condition from a discrepancy between a CT scan image done on the Brazilian fighter in 2005 and one he had taken a week before the ill-fated fight with Fitch. Subsequent tests revealed that an artery in Thiago’s brain was dangerously close to becoming fused with a neighboring vein.

Alves explains that although it would not necessarily have proven fatal under normal circumstances, had the two vessels joined, his chances of mortality would have increased tenfold.

Looking back at the scary situation, Alves believes that if it weren’t for the stringent, necessary medical testing procedures the NJSACB’s require fighters to undergo and pass before granting them an MMA license in the Garden State, he never would have known that he had the arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in his brain and could have suffered an aneurysm, internal bleeding or worse – death.

He has a message for all of the state and provincial athletic commissions in the U.S. and Canada, that are waffling about whether or not mixed martial arts is too dangerous of a sport to regulate:

“The testing fighters go through to be able to fight is better than it is in any other sport. If I wasn’t a fighter, I never would have had a CT scan, which means I never would have known that I had this problem," Alves says. "We’re professional athletes and the commissions that regulate MMA treat us like any other sport, because we are professionals. Maybe my story will change the minds of some of the people who are misinformed.”

Going above and beyond simply referring Alves to a specialist, Wulkan put him in touch with Dr. Alejandro Berenstein, the director of Beth Israel's Hyman-Newman Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Roosevelt hospital in New York and one of the leading specialists in the world in interventional neuroradiology.

It was Berenstein who actually invented the surprisingly non-invasive procedure used to repair the abnormality. The operation, which lasted only a few hours entailed entering the brain through a catheter inserted in a small incision in the Alves’ groin. After isolating and separating the culprit vein and artery, doctors used medical grade “Krazy Glue” to form an artificial wall between the vessels.

After a two-week training embargo per doctor’s orders, which was strongly enforced by his American Top Team teammates and coaches, Alves is now back to training, feeling great and anxiously awaiting word later tonight from doctors and the NJ commission on whether or not his postponed scrap with Fitch is a go for UFC 115 in June.

Relieved that the surgery was a success and feeling no ill-effects from his former condition or its reparative procedure, Alves now reveals that the stress level he experienced heading into surgery was far worse than that which he experiences heading into the Octagon, despite the fact that he was in more than capable hands with Berenstein.

“It was really tough going through this, especially so close to a fight I was looking so forward to. I went from being so excited for the fight, to not knowing if I’d ever be able to fight again,” explains Alves. “Having one of the best doctors in the field definitely helped reassure me, but I still was pretty scared going into surgery. I kept thinking, ‘What if I never wake up?’

Cognizant of her role as his potential lifesaver, Alves says that Wulkan played an equally important part as his other "guardian angel," Berenstein, in getting him better.

“I’m so thankful that Dr. Wulkan discovered this so that we could get it fixed before it became a problem," he says. "She did a lot for me and I'll never forget it. She and Dr. Berenstein were incredible. I owe both of them a lot. I’m glad it’s over and I can’t wait to fight again.”
 

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Interesting read, it's a good thing that mma fighters undergo such rigorous tests before fighting. It's good to hear Alves is okay and ready to get back to it also.
 

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Fruits & Vegetables
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"The operation, which lasted only a few hours entailed entering the brain through a catheter inserted in a small incision in the Alves’ groin."

What...The....****...
 

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"Focus"
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Glad he got healthy, now it's time to get in with Fitch again, get ready to be Fitched Thiago. Jon is the second best wrestler in the division and you don't exactly have amazing TDD.

Fitch by pure dominate smothering.
 

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"The operation, which lasted only a few hours entailed entering the brain through a catheter inserted in a small incision in the Alves’ groin."

What...The....****...
Haha! I had to do a double take on that one too. the entrance seems quite a ways from the brain.

Back to the OT. I'm glad that the surgery was successful and he can start training again. he's definitely a fun one to watch.
 

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Any Weight, Anytime...
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If Fitch gets passed Thiago in my mind he should get the next shot.
 

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"Focus"
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If Fitch gets passed Thiago in my mind he should get the next shot.
He won't get one though, because he's "boring"

GSP isn't going to fight the winner of that fight. He just beat both of them, guys are going to continue to be rushed to a title shot at WW, so we don't have to see rematches at WW. If Daley beats Kos, we'll be seeing Daley v GSP for the WW title next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I really think that if anyone in the division has a chance its Fitch, i dont see anyone else taking it.
 

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"Focus"
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I really think that if anyone in the division has a chance its Fitch, i dont see anyone else taking it.
I give Kos a chance too, I mean he is the last person to take a round from GSP and he has better striking than Fitch.
 

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The Avy Slut
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I see Fitch UD'ing Thiago. But the thing is, the winner of Daley v Kos is getting the next shot after TUF 11, and in the mean time Fitch'll probably have 2 more fights - so assuming he wins those as well then he gets the shot. Personally I wanna see Paulo Thiago get a title shot late this year/early next year, dark horse of the WW division.
 

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"Focus"
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I see Fitch UD'ing Thiago. But the thing is, the winner of Daley v Kos is getting the next shot after TUF 11, and in the mean time Fitch'll probably have 2 more fights - so assuming he wins those as well then he gets the shot. Personally I wanna see Paulo Thiago get a title shot late this year/early next year, dark horse of the WW division.
I want to know who Fitch has left to fight if he gets by Thiago? He's beaten everyone else and the guys he hasn't are on his team and they won't fight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
To match GSP it seems you need a lot of control and strength,
Fitch has both.
 

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"Focus"
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To match GSP it seems you need a lot of control and strength,
Fitch has both.
Yeah but it didn't go so well last time and I can't imagine the complaining that would go on if Jon took the title from GSP.

If anyone can do it though, I think it will be Fitch at WW.
 

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It's a league game, Smokey
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The operation, which lasted only a few hours entailed entering the brain through a catheter inserted in a small incision in the Alves’ groin.
I had to read that several times to make sure I read it properly lol. Is there any chance this was altered? I mean "in the Alves'" doesn't make much sense as it is? Bad translation?

Just seems extremely unlikely the easiest way to reach his brain is through his groin...

...and it almost sounds like a joke. I mean they say it's a "surprisngly non-invasive procedure", then follow up by saying it enters through the groin. That sounds comically invasive.
 

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"Focus"
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They couldn't go somewhere a little closer? Maybe the next or even the stomach?

That is actually how they do it though, he talked about it on Inside MMA last week, Bas and Kenny had the same reaction we are all having, haha.
 

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It's a league game, Smokey
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Man if you arn't in the medical field I can't see having any other reaction! But either way..."surprisingly non-invassive" and "through the groin" should never be in the same sentence.
 
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