Tom Sauer has fought notable names in mixed martial arts, including Enson Inoue, Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz, Vladimir Matyushenko, Jeff Monson and Valentijn Overeem, but it's his current battle that might be his toughest.
Sauer, a fixture of the sport since 1998, is recovering from an April 24 motorcycle accident in Belleview, Fla., that left him with broken bones in both legs, as well as torn ligaments in his pelvis.
"I don't know how I survived to be honest with you," said Sauer, who was released from the hospital April 28 and is recuperating at his Ocala, Fla. home. "I'm very blessed to be alive. Being a fire rescue worker for the city of Ocala, I don't know of anybody who made it out of a head-on collision with a bike, but I did."
According to The Ocala Star-Banner, Cpl. Jamie Buchbinder, an officer with the Ocala City Police, was driving his city vehicle south while Sauer was on his motorcycle traveling in the opposite direction. Buchbinder, attempting to turn left, apparently did not see the motorcyclist and crashed into him.
"We have a lot of bike festivals (in Florida) and I was coming home from one at midnight," said the 39-year-old Sauer. "I was about two miles from home when it happened. I wasn't wearing a helmet. I had a split-second decision to make when I saw the car coming at me. I just stood on the pegs of my motorcycle and jumped as high as I could. I cleared the vehicle with my chest and torso, but the car hit my legs and flipped me over several times and I landed next to the cruiser. I was lucky to survive."
Sauer, whose most recent fight was a second-round TKO of Liron Wilson on an Art of Fighting Card last month, broke his left ankle and some bones in his foot and had screws inserted in his left foot. He also broke metatarsal bones in his right foot and tore ligaments, so both of his legs are in casts. Along with the leg injuries, he tore ligaments in his pelvis after his legs were folded back over his head by the impact with the police cruiser.
"My pelvis feels like a bag of peanuts right now," Sauer said.
Sauer's legs will be in casts for the next four to six weeks and it will be about six to eight weeks before he can walk again.
"I used to own a physical therapy clinic with my wife, so I know about that kind of stuff," Sauer said. "This will probably be a good nine-month injury before I can get back to fighting. Right now, I want to get back to walking first and get back to being a firefighter and paramedic. That's my first priority."
Sauer, whose career started back in 1998, was scheduled to fight UFC veteran Wes Combs (15-4) on another Art of Fighting card in August, but that bout is most likely off due to the accident. However, the accident won't spell the end of Sauer's MMA career.
"I was doing so well (before the accident)," said Sauer, who's never had a fight go the distance. "I'd won five of my last six fights and lost to (Cruz) and that was my fault. I'll be 40 this Nov. 11 and I feel like I have a lot left in me. I was cutting a little weight before this accident, so I was in good shape and God took care of me. Fighting is what I love to do and it's my passion. I can't see this stopping me."