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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Matthew Wells and Nolan King

UFC newcomer Bassil Hafez reveals what prompted overnight ER stay after Fight of the Night debut

On less than a week’s notice, Bassil Hafez made a splash with fans in his promotional debut at UFC on ESPN 49, despite walking away with a loss on his record and an unexpected hospital visit that followed.

Monday evening of fight week, a short-notice call came that represented a massive opportunity for the 31-year-old fighter’s career. There was no chance he was passing on the chance to be a part of the UFC roster. However, the scramble to make weight for the co-main event bout against Jack Della Maddalena created unexpected medical issues.

While Hafez (8-4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) gave and took some big shots throughout the Fight of the Night battle at the UFC Apex, he says the issue that landed him in the hospital did not stem from trading with the hard-hitting Della Maddalena (15-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC).

“I did actually spend the night in the ER after the fight that same night, because I had some complications with the weight cut that were aftereffects that I didn’t even realize were as serious as they were,” Hafez told MMA Junkie. “So, I went to get a CAT scan to make sure my brain was good, that I didn’t have a concussion, which I ended up not having at all, which was good. And then they found out I had air in my esophagus. Then they did deeper tests and found I had air around my heart and lungs. … Basically, I guess the air could get worse and compress and push around my heart, and then I’d just basically die of a heart attack or a stroke.

“So, I had to spend the night in the ER, and then they fasted me. So, I went from the fight to a liquid diet right away and stayed overnight. They released me the next day, but after all that, I’m all good. I’m all healed up.”

According to Hafez, the ER doctor thought the problem came from the fight itself. Hafez disagrees with his assessment, stating that the “drastic” weight cut was the culprit. Regardless of what caused air to be trapped around his heart and lungs, the physician relayed good news, telling Hafez it will go away on its own and shouldn’t be a recurring issue going forward – but that doesn’t resolve his other lingering problems.

“I had several injuries going into the fight that I didn’t mention, that I think kind of limited my attack plan, in terms of striking and things I could do,” Hafez said. “So, I still have those bothering me because they got a little worse in the fight. But honestly, I feel pretty dang good, man. Confidence is good. I took that fight in stride. I think I won, but I understand how he won. And so next time, I’ll make sure not to leave it up to the judges.”

Given Hafez performed incredibly well under less-than-ideal circumstances, his place on the UFC roster is secure. That means he will have an opportunity to log a full fight camp ahead of his next fight, which he believes will make all the difference in the world the next time he steps inside the octagon.

“You’re going to see someone who’s in shape, someone who’s going to be a lot more technically sound, you’re going to see a lot better transitions and better technique changes to different things,” Hafez said. “It will be a lot less flying by the seat of my pants. Everything’s going to be calculated, controlled, and I’m going to be in better shape.”

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