Bellator’s Patricio Pitbull couldn’t feel his leg during Suzuki Rizin fight: ‘I will never be the same again’

MMA powerhouse Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire recently spoke candidly about his decision last year to accept a bout on short notice despite dealing with a severe neck injury.

Pitbull took on Chihiro Suzuki just days after agreeing to the bout, even though he was suffering from debilitating herniated discs in his neck that were affecting his mobility and nerves.

In an interview, Pitbull shed light on his mindset going into the Suzuki fight. “I didn’t know I was in such a bad condition before the surgery, and there was already hurt when I went to the Paris fight,” he admitted.

Pitbull disclosed that he was having severe issues like being unable to sleep properly. He said: “I couldn’t sleep lying down. And we were taking many precautions during camp, So I didn’t get hit much during the camp. They wouldn’t do any movements that would push my head down.”

So while Pitbull knew he was hurt, he perceived it as a manageable injury at the time. However, once the match started, it became clear how truly debilitating the neck injury was.

Pitbull recalled the frightening moment and said: “Seju grazed my head, and I lost the feeling in my legs. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t really well. There was compromised.” The temporary paralysis was incredibly alarming and unlike anything he had experienced before.

Even after such a scary incident during the match, Pitbull was still uncertain of the severity afterwards. The full damage was not yet apparent to him or his team immediately after the bout.

He said: “Only after that I went back to the doctor to find out what was happening. And during surgery when he opened me he saw that it was much worse than the image from the MRI were showing. So not even the MRI was showing how serious my my injury was.”

It was only after undergoing intensive surgery that doctors discovered how truly severe Pitbull’s herniated discs were. Much worse than even the MRI scans had indicated beforehand. This  finally allowed Pitbull to grasp the gravity of the injury.

He continued: “But I I don’t regret any of this you know. It made me a better person, it made me a better fighter. And it was good because I was able to to find out what was really wrong with me and fix it.”

Pitbull has now recovered from surgery and hopes to regain his peak championship form. His experience serves as an eye-opening reminder of how vital it is for fighters to only compete when completely physically fit and healthy. Pitbull’s raw account of ignoring glaring warning signs and pushing through agony shows the intense mental and physical toll this sport can take.