A mixed martial arts champion has had to give up his title due to a serious injury, and his career could be in jeopardy.
Rudson Caliocane suffered a brain stem ischemia last month following a fight in Brazil, his manager Alex Davis confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday. Caliocane was the Titan FC bantamweight champion and considered a prospect in MMA. He has trained at American Top Team in Florida with the likes of UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
"I have decided to vacate my Titan FC Bantamweight World Championship Title, out of fairness to the division, and to Titan FC and Lex McMahon, who has given me the opportunity to fight for and hold the belt, and have treated me so well," Caliocane wrote in a statement. "Hopefully, I can come back and reconquer the Titan FC Bantamweight division in the near future. However, for now I must concentrate on my health and getting better."
It's unclear if he will ever fight -- or be completely healthy -- again, Davis said. Caliocane, 27, fought at Future FC 9 on Oct. 19 in Sao Paulo. After the bout, Caliocane fell ill backstage and nearly passed out.
His father, a firefighter in Brazil, rushed him to a hospital. Caliocane was diagnosed with a lesion on his brain stem and an ischemia, which can also be called an ischemic stroke.
An ischemia is often caused by a blood clot, per cdc.gov. When the blood cannot get to a section of the brain -- in Caliocane's case, the brain stem -- brain tissue in the area dies because it is no longer receiving oxygen.
Caliocane is now partially paralyzed on his left side, cannot walk without a limp and is having trouble speaking clearly, Davis said.
Davis said Caliocane's neurologist informed him that the ischemia was a result of an extreme weight cut, not the actual fight, which Caliocane lost to Matheus Mendonca by unanimous decision. Davis said Caliocane cut more than 15 pounds in a single day to make weight for the bout, likely via severe dehydration.
Davis said he felt that Caliocane did not look like himself in the bout.
There is a belief among doctors that Caliocane will recover, but his MMA future is in doubt, Davis said. He needs physical therapy and further medical treatment. "More important than him fighting again is that he comes back to normal health," Davis said. "Initially, we were scared he'd never able to talk and walk correctly again."
Before the loss in Brazil, Caliocane had won seven in a row. He won the Titan FC bantamweight title by beating Edir Terry via unanimous decision in January.
Titan FC COO Lex McMahon announced Tuesday that Caliocane would have to relinquish the title. Titan has also set up a GoFundMe campaign for his treatment, with a goal set at $10,000. Davis said Caliocane likely won't have any income during his recovery, because he also worked as an MMA trainer.
"This is a very serious injury that's going to require many months -- if not years -- of expensive medication and therapy in order to make a recovery," McMahon said in a video. "... We're with you, Rudson. We stand by you. Once a champion, always a champion."
Davis said Caliocane was a favorite sparring partner of Nunes, UFC featherweight Renato Moicano and current ONE Championship bantamweight John Lineker. Davis said Caliocane was a shoo-in for a spot on the roster of a bigger MMA promotion in the future.
"He's so technical that he could train with anybody and help anybody," Davis said of Caliocane.