This site here is supposed to be something of a comedy site, which is why I feel bad for bumming you all out lately with so much talk about how a lot of the fighters passing through the UFC seem to be leaving worse off financially than when they went in. I don’t really blame you if you don’t feel bad for Matthew Riddle – he kinda FUBAR’d his own career – but check out this nightmare story from Strikeforce fighter Virgil Zwicker:
Their doctor basically said that they found blood clots in my brain, so I actually had to spend thousands of dollars of my own money getting cleared. Strikeforce did not help me, and none of the Zuffa people helped me pay for anything -Virgil Zwicker
Strikeforce gave me the opportunity to be the main event of a card, and they sent me to a doctor to go and do my medicals. Their doctor basically said that they found blood clots in my brain, so I actually had to spend thousands of dollars of my own money getting cleared. Strikeforce did not help me, and none of the Zuffa people helped me pay for anything, so I had to go spend $15,000 – $16,000 on about 20 different doctors and 15 different x-rays to prove to them that their doctor was wrong and there was nothing wrong with my brain.
They didn’t help with anything. I had to go do every test, step by step, myself. I almost had to do celebrity golf tournaments just to bring in money for myself, because I was broke. An MRI costs anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000, and I had to do 15 of them just to get cleared, because they made the decision to send me to some broke doctor who had some old x-ray machine with diluted film rolls. It was one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever dealt with in my career.
A regular doctor couldn’t clear me, only a university level doctor could clear me. I had to go to UCSD and stuff. It was a hard thing to deal with. It was a hard thing on my family. It felt like it was pretty much us versus the world. My health comes first, my kids’ well-being comes first, me being a father comes first, so I was almost ready to hang up the gloves, but I knew at the time this can’t be right.
I was not allowed to spar and I was not allowed to train. They told me I had suffered from a stroke in my sleep. I was scared for my life. I had to tell my wife and my kids… I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. The way they told it to me, I had suffered from a stroke and I had blood clots in my brain, and if they don’t go in and remove them there’s a possibility I might die. I had to sit out about 6 or 7 months before I could even get a fight. Then when I did get the fight, I had to do more tests for them, just because they didn’t think I was capable of fighting.
It was one of the most frustrating and angry things I’ve ever dealt with. It was so discouraging to know that I’m working for somebody who doesn’t appreciate me enough to help me get myself cleared, especially when it’s their doctor who made the mistake.
Full disclosure: I don’t remember one iota of what Zwicker has done in the Strikeforce cage. He was 1-2 in the organization when it was swallowed by Zuffa and it’s not much of a surprise that he was left behind. But if the story he’s telling is true and a misdiagnosis from a Strikeforce doctor left him stuck a) thinking he had a stroke and brain clots b) unable to fight because of said condition, then that’s pretty horrible. Virgil is just one of those guys who isn’t selling many tickets or PPVs though, so I guess too bad for him. Consider this your daily reminder that combat sports is a harsh mistress.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports