Promising undefeated competitor Josiah Harrell was set to make his highly anticipated promotional debut at UFC 290. However, fate had a different plan for him. Although the situation could have been much worse, Harrell faced a setback that revealed a potentially life-threatening condition.
Matched against Jack Della Maddalena as a replacement for the injured Sean Brady, Harrell’s match was called off just days before the event.
On Friday, their match was cancelled as it emerged that Harrell had Moyamoya syndrome. It is a dangerous blood vessel ailment in the skull that can result in clots at the base of the brain.
Harrell’s manager Maurice Blanco shed light on a concerning fact – his undefeated client had never undergone a head scan before joining the UFC. This discovery may have ultimately saved Harrell’s life.
In light of this incident, UFC President Dana White expressed his concern and disappointment. He emphasized on the importance of thorough medical examinations for competitors.
Reflecting on the UFC’s history, White remarked that numerous individuals with underlying health issues had been discovered through their rigorous testing protocols.
White stated: “If you took the 23 years that we’ve been doing this and you saw how many people we found with problems that probably shouldn’t have been fighting, even kids that wanted to get into ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ it’s everything, and it’s insane that this goes on out there.”
White went on to say that the UFC invests substantial resources in ensuring the health and safety of its athletes. Protecting combatants from unnecessary risks remains the organization’s paramount concern.
“These other organizations are regulated. Yeah, it’s crazy. We spend millions and millions of dollars on health and safety. It is the most important thing that we focus on and that we care about as far as putting on fights.”
“At the end of the day, if you’re involved in a combat sport – and I consider football a combat sport, too – there’s a risk. Every time you go out and compete, there’s a risk. What we try to do is minimize the risk as much as possible.”
Following the diagnosis, Josiah Harrell is expected to undergo brain surgery soon.
Additionally, Jack Della Maddalena was removed from the UFC 290 card. It remains unclear whether he will be rescheduled for an upcoming event or if he will have to wait before stepping into the octagon for the fifth time in the UFC.
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