MMA Fighter Paralyzed During Bout
Amateur MMA fighter Jeff Dunbar was paralyzed during a fight this past Saturday. Dunbar, 20, was in the ninth of eleven fights at an event for Fight Card Entertainment against Rudy Bahena. When Bahena locked in a standing rear-naked choke, Dunbar dove forward in an attempt to spike Bahena into the canvas and ended up bearing the weight of both of fighters on his neck upon impact.
“They went down,” said Dunbar’s trainer Josh Bulak. “Jeff’s opponent didn’t know what happened, and he just finished the choke. But then the paramedics rushed in, and he was taken away on a gurney.”
The show was stopped as the paramedics took Dunbar to the hospital, and when they came back Bulak says that they told him that ‘Everything should be OK.’ When the show was over Bulak went to the hospital and found out that Dunbar was paralyzed, with doctors saying he wouldn’t be able to use his legs again, and that there was a 95% chance he’d never get use of his hands back.
“The doctor didn’t sugarcoat anything,” said Bulak. “They told him he’d never walk again. It was a crushing blow.”
“We’ve never practiced that [maneuver] in class,” he added. “He just sort of pile-drived himself. That probably would’ve been the third or fourth way I’d teach him to get out of that. It’s more of a desperation move. You can’t really practice it. You don’t practice stuff like that. It’s just a freak thing. He should have tapped. I just wish he would have tapped.”
The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, which sanctions professional events, has nothing to do with amateur fights due to legislation enacted two years ago. Promotions hosting amateur events are only given guidelines. Bulak says it likely wouldn’t have made a difference in this case though.
“It wouldn’t have changed anything,” he said. “I can’t point fingers at anyone. Other promoters in Chicago are trying to point fingers, but I don’t think there’s anything that could have been done differently to prevent this. Fight Card Entertainment, I’ve worked them for four years. I know the owners, and they’ve been great. In fact, they’re donating all the proceeds from the next show to Jeff’s fund.”
Dunbar is making progress and says he will fight again.