After accumulating a 25-5 professional record over the course of a 12-year mixed martial arts (MMA) career, he had finally earned his shot in the big leagues.
So imagine the tremendous disappointment when he sustained a freak ankle injury just moments before he was slated to walk out to the Octagon at UFC on Fuel TV last Wednesday night (Feb. 15, 2012).
Unable to compete, he was loaded up into an ambulance and sent to the hospital while everyone else other than his opponent, Buddy Roberts, got their moment of glory.
The California-based veteran spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this past Sunday night and recounted how the injury happened, how he dealt with it and just how long he expects to be sidelined in part one of this exclusive interview.
It's a terrific read so check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Obviously you had a huge disappointment with not being able to fight on Wednesday night so, can you kind of talk us through what exactly happened? I heard you stepped in a crease in the mat and heard a loud pop and your night was over.
Sean Loeffler: Yeah, as you guys know, I've been fighting professionally for 12 years through freaking every fight fight promotion across the planet and I've been pretty successful. It seemed like my time was pretty much due. I'd never felt better going into training camp with my coaches and with my preparation and my conditioning. I didn't spend one minute in the sauna. I just dieted. I walk around at 218 and I'm 6'3 and I didn't have to sauna for this fight. I just sat in the bath tub for an hour and was 185.
It was kinda funny because, a little precursor, and I know you guys are just gonna roll your your eyes and go, "Oh man," but my girlfriend, the morning of my fight, she woke up to go get her hair extensions in and she goes to get her bag and the mirror had broke in her jewelry bag before she left the room and I didn't really think about that. Then one of my coaches texted me on the way to the arena saying, "Hey, stretch out real good. I had a bad dream. Just no injuries," and then 30 minutes before I fought, I only got injured four minutes before our fight but 30 minutes before I fought, my best friend text messaged my coach, "Tony, how's Sean looking," and Tony put, "He's injured, he's not fighting....LOL just kidding, I've never seen him better!"
I was four minutes away from getting ready and Burt [Watson] from the UFC, you know Burt and all the guys that run the show are like, "Hey, you're on deck. Are you ready to go?" and I'm like, "Never been more ready. This guy's about to meet a bullet called my right hand," and my coach says, "Okay, one more hard blow," which to the audience out there means a really intense minute of work after you're done warming up to just get that little bit of sweat and keep going because we like to compete on the second wind as they call it in fighting so we did that 20 minute hard workout, took a five minute break and one more hard blow before we walked out.
I started it with five tuck-jumps and on the first one, I jumped up and my foot landed in a crack in the warm-up mat and went "POP! POP!" and Trevor Wittman and Urijah Faber and Mark Munoz, all those guys were there, they turned around from about 40 feet away in the locker room and I saw the look on their face and I was like, "Oh no," and I jumped up and I started jumping around. I did a couple wind sprints and starting hitting mitts again. I was like, "I'm fine. This ain't a ballet, I'm fine, I'm fine," and the doctors ran over and say, "We think you broke your tibia and fibia," and I was like, "Cool, well I think you're in the way between me and the cage so let's go, let's fight," and the doctor was like, "You want to fight still? You're at a pretty big disadvantage," and I said, "Absolutely, I'm gonna fight," and they say, "Can you jump?" and I jumped on it and it killed but they were like, "Does it hurt?" and I said, "No," and I walked away
But then my coach said, "Throw some right hands." I threw a superman punch and he was like, "No, Sean. Throw a right hand with planting your foot on the ground," and I planted my foot on the ground and it turned over again and popped again and I fell all the way to the floor and my coaches looked down and it looked like a pineapple was on my foot. I'm sure the national audience saw that and Joe SIlva came back and he said, "I can't let you fight. Too many disadvantages," but I pleaded, "Please let me in that cage. Carry me out like a Spartan. I'll throw money to the crowd like I do so nobody will notice the difference. I'll stand like the Karate Kid and people are just going to think I'm being funny and then I'll just trade and I don't care what happens. You've got to let me in that cage. My dad's here. It's been 12 years," and they said, "We can't. We can't let you do that."
And so, even though it makes me sound like a big pussy, I started to cry for about two minutes. My coach put my head in his chest and he was like, "Get it out now," and then Joe and the production crew came back and said, "We're gonna let you put your banner on TV for your sponsors to get some air time and your walkout shorts and whatnot and we're gonna explain everything to you into the crowd like what happened. It's no joke, obviously. Look at your foot. It's already black and huge." They did that and Joe Silva and Dana White came back to me and said, "Dude, you're not a sissy. You're a UFC fighter for a reason. You're gonna be here for a long time. We're gonna pay for you to get better. We're gonna give you your show money and you're a UFC fighter so get better and everyone wants to see you back." That's pretty much the whole story.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's crazy. I knew that you had a straight face when they showed you on Facebook portion when they announced that you wouldn't be able to fight and I was like, "There's no way he's smiling on the inside." That's crazy how it all turned out.
Sean Loeffler: Yeah, it's funny too, dude. I've had injuries in fights before. When my adrenaline stopped, a couple minutes after I accepted that I'm not fighting, I've never felt pain like that. It sent from no pain at all, me thinking, "I can fight, this is fine, this shit is not bad," to instant, I'm sitting looking at my coaches like water tearing up in my eyes, "Coach, it really hurts bad," and he's like, "I know, champ, just relax and breathe." Like you said, when they put the camera on me, I kept thinking three things: Don't cry, don't yell and just don't act like a wuss. Don't show people how much this really hurts, you know?
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I saw the picture you posted on twitter where you posted the X-Ray and you said you found out it was a complete tear of your anterior talofibular ligament and partial posterior lateral and medial tears so three ligaments, one of them completely torn. That sounds pretty nasty.
Sean Loeffler: Yeah, the doctor was pretty shocked. They were like, "We haven't seen too many ankles that bad. The good thing is you've got good insurance. The UFC is helping you out, they're behind you. Let's go Tuesday for pre-op, maybe surgery on Tuesday." They were like, "If you were a regular guy, we probably wouldn't do surgery. We'd just rehab it for six weeks and get you walking and it would just never really be as strong as what it was, but since you're a professional athlete, we should do some surgery because the UFC's taking care of you on that end and let's make it stronger, put a cadaver ligament or something in and we'll rehab and and you'll come back stronger than ever. You'll be fighting 4-6 months from now and back in the UFC again. That's probably the best way to do it."
They said there's a 10 percent chance Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. that I won't have to have surgery but they said 90 percent, it would probably be the best thing. I'm going to see this guy who's the Chargers team doctor so I've got pretty much the best medical staff in the world or at least Southern California doing everything so I'm not really tripping. They say everything happens for a reason. I think Buddy Roberts dodged a bullet and my next opponent won't be that lucky. I'll do my tuck jumps on the cement and then knock the mother fucker out.
To listen to the complete audio of our interview with Loeffler, click here (begins at 32 minute mark).
Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting continuation of our interview with Loeffler where we talk about everything from failed relationships to two of the most entertaining fighting stories you've ever heard in your life. Believe me, you won't want to miss this.
So do you feel for Loeffler, Maniacs?
This was only the second time in UFC history that a competitor was forced out of their fight due to a backstage injury, the other being Kevin Randleman at UFC 24. Can Loeffler recover and make a splash in his return?