LAS VEGAS — For Brock Lesnar, it’s nothing short of a miracle that he’s about to step back into the octagon.
After being diagnosed with the intestinal disorder diverticulitis — which left a hole in his large intestine — the UFC heavyweight champion now has a clean bill of health.
“Honestly, I feel just blessed to be here right now,” Lesnar (4-1) said at the UFC 116 pre-fight press conference. “Last November, I was laying in the hospital for two weeks. Didn’t put any food in my mouth for two weeks. I wasn’t sure if I was going to fight again.
“I just feel great for the opportunity to be here. I mean, six months ago, literally, I was on my death bed and here I am. It’s a damn miracle.”
Lesnar meets heavy-handed interim heavyweight titleholder Shane Carwin (12-0) in the headlining bout of UFC 116 this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The show will also feature a co-main event between Yoshihiro Akiyama and Chris (The Crippler) Leben, who replaced the injured Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva.
Lesnar’s illness reached the breaking point last November, when he awoke in severe pain and shock while on a hunting trip in the Manitoba wilderness.
Lesnar was immediately rushed to hospital in Brandon, Man., where he was diagnosed. However, unhappy with the treatment he was receiving there, Lesnar made a run across the border to a hospital in Bismarck, N.D., before ending up at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Following is recovery, Lesnar launched his now infamous tirade against the Canadian healthcare system.
“Probably the lowest moment was getting care from Canada,” Lesnar said on a January UFC conference call. “They couldn’t do nothing for me. It was like I was in a Third World country … I had to get out of there.”
Though Lesnar’s condition has improved, his attitude towards the Canadian healthcare system has not.
“Now we’ve got it; come on, it’s a joke,” Lesnar said Wednesday at the fighter workouts. “We actually pay for healthcare that doesn’t start until 2013 or something.
‘Obamacare’ all the way,” Lesnar continued, while sarcastically pumping his fist.
As a result of his illness, Lesnar was unable to eat for almost two weeks.
“I wasn’t eating anything,” Lesnar said. “If I could have eaten even a little bit, it would have been great. They didn’t allow me to eat. I didn’t put anything in my mouth for 13 days. Nothing. I was fed intravenously through two PICC lines — one in my right bicep, one in my left.”
Upon being released from the hospital, Lesnar was forced to completely revamp his diet, which previously consisted of little else but meat. He said he had no choice but to alter his eating habits.
“It was kind of easy for me because I knew I had to change my diet,” Lesnar said. “My taste buds had to really learn how to taste again. It’s pretty remarkable what food tastes like once you haven’t tasted it for two weeks. It doesn’t taste very good. So the blander, the better for me. And the cleaner, the better. It’s my lifestyle now.
“I’m in great shape. I’m not carrying around any extra body weight. Come (the day of the weigh-ins), I’ll have to skip a meal and that’s about it. Whereas normally, I’m in the sauna losing 10 to 12 pounds of water weight.”
After getting the green light to return to the gym, Lesnar began the slow process of regaining the 40 pounds of muscle mass he lost while in the hospital.
“No, I didn’t feel good right away,” Lesnar said. “It was baby steps. That’s why I got with the right people. Every week, I just had mini-goals. Every day, little mini-goals. I just took it one day at a time. Then when I got the green light that I was going to be able to do this again — I refer to it as a little steam locomotive. I threw a little coal on the fire to get things going. Next week, a little more coal — and now we’re here.”