Mike Swick : Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Mike Swick has been off the grid since February, when he lost to Paulo Thiago via second-round submission at UFC 109. It was his second consecutive defeat and sent him to the doctor’s office looking for answers.
“Four years ago, I was told I had dyspepsia,” Swick told Sherdog.com. “I just assumed they were right since I had my stomach scoped twice by different doctors. After [the Thiago loss], I didn’t think I could eat enough to be competitive at the level of the UFC. I didn’t want to quit doing what I love, but I figured I needed to do something if I wanted to stay at this level. I went back to a new doctor who did a totally new evaluation, and he said I had a severely spastic esophagus.”
Though the two conditions have similar symptoms, dyspepsia, or chronic indigestion, cannot be cured. A spastic esophagus does have treatment options, however, including medications and injections.
“There’s no real way to tell what causes [esophageal spasms],” said Swick, a mainstay at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. “It’s just something that happens. I don’t think there’s a cure for it, but the meds will tame [the symptoms] somewhat, and a Botox injection helps, as well. I took meds while I was waiting to get the injection, and it allowed me to have more freedom with what I eat. The one downside is that all of the meds are sedatives, so I had to watch how much I took before I wanted to train.”
Swick received Botox injections Nov. 2 to help treat his condition, and while too early to tell if they will be successful, he remains optimistic about his future, both inside the Octagon and out.
“I’m still waiting for the swelling to go down, but I’ve already noticed some improvement,” said Swick, a cast member on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. “I’m not going to be totally cured, but it’s an improvement and it’s making my life easier. I should be able to eat more and put on more weight.”
After appearing on “The Ultimate Fighter” as a light heavyweight, Swick’s condition caused him to cut all the way down to 170 pounds, and though treatments have helped him from a health standpoint, he plans on remaining a welterweight when he returns.
“I’m just going to balance taking my meds with my training and stay at 170,” said Swick, who has seven knockouts among his nine finishes. “The difference now will be instead of being smaller and malnourished, which is what I was for the last four years, I’ll be able to put on some muscle mass and be a bigger welterweight.”
When Swick steps back into the Octagon to face David Mitchell at UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” on Jan. 22 in Killeen, Texas, it will be the end of a long, oftentimes frustrating stint on the sidelines.
“I know I’m going to be fighting Jan. 22, and I know I’m going to put on a good performance,” the 31-year-old Houston native said. “I’m not sure whether I’ll be as good [health-wise] as I was before, but I do think I can fight at this level and fight as well as I want.”
With wins over Joe Riggs, David Loiseau, Marcus Davis, Jonathan Goulet and Ben Saunders on his resume, Swick remains a solid member of the UFC roster. He has amassed a 9-3 record inside the Octagon, having contended at both welterweight and middleweight.
Grateful for the opportunities he has been given, Swick looks forward to his return now that his condition has been correctly diagnosed and can be properly treated.
“It’s nice to get a second chance,” said Swick. “I’m not saying that [the Mitchell fight] is going to be my last fight, but from here on out, I’m going to fight every fight like it’s my last fight. Sometimes you take a lot for granted, and this served as a good wakeup call. I got to see what it was like to not be able to do what I love, and now I’m grateful that I’m getting the chance to fight again.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 12:11 a.m. ET to clarify Swick’s quote on his health.