Ramiz Brahimaj Details Recovery From Spinal Injury Ahead of UFC Return

Ramiz Brahimaj’s recovery from a grievous spinal injury is truly inspirational.

Brahimaj hasn’t competed since a first-round submission win over Michael Gilmore in February 2022. Brahimaj was scheduled to fight Carlston Harris in February 2023 but was forced out due to a neck injury. The 31-year-old is now finally slated to return to action against Themba Gorimbo at UFC Fight Night 241 on Saturday. Brahimaj recently detailed his injury in an interview with MMAMania.com.

“I had a brachial plexus injury and an injury to my C-5 from spinal stenosis and disc injuries. It set me back a lot, man. I dealt with a lot of different things, and it’s pretty messy when that stuff happens. So, for about two to three months, I really had limited function and ability in my arm, and it kept happening. So, it sucked, but I’m here, I’m happy.”

Brahimaj suffered the injury during wrestling drills. While most of the doctors he initially saw suggested surgery, Brahimaj was skeptical about going under the knife.

“Man, I was wrestling ... and it just happened,” Brahimaj said. “I went through, I think four different doctors. Three of them actually wanted surgery. They wanted to do a fusion and use an artificial disc. I heard a lot of different things. And there was nothing that I wanted to hear… I remember I told them, I was like, ‘Listen, I’m 30 years old. I’m not going to do this — there’s no way I’m going to put myself through surgery and set myself back so much. I’m going to find a way to recover and do it without surgery.’”

Brahimaj instead chose to seek in-depth knowledge about his injury and also eventually met a doctor, who prescribed intense physiotherapy and kept surgery as the last resort.

“So, I started to really deep dive into the world of the spine, C-5 and all about the neck and everything,” he added. “The doctor that I actually met up with here in Dallas, an amazing doctor, assured me that his last plan was going to be for me to go under the knife. He said, ‘We’re gonna do a lot of rigorous physical therapy. It’s going take you awhile, but I just need you to trust me.’ He was helping me as I was doing my own research on this stuff on the brachial plexus and everything. It took a while, but I think it was the right choice that I made. And the function of my arm and the function of my body ... everything is back. To me, it’s miraculous, you know, it’s extremely miraculous.”

The Fortis MMA product also revealed that the draining process had him contemplating retirement from the sport.

“I had a whole letter written,” he said. “I looked at that letter two weeks ago in disgust because looking back now, you know, it was gloomy. It was dark last year like — I did not know what was going to happen. I would make progress, and then there would be days where I’d wake up, and I’m like, ‘F—k, I don’t feel better. I just felt like I was constantly just trying to find something to be buoyant. Because during that time, I did feel like I was drowning, but I really think it had happened. It made me so much mentally stronger. That it just opened my eyes to a lot of things.”

As hard as the last year has been for Brahimaj, it was his attachment to the sport and his teammates that kept him going.

“I need you to understand that through physical therapy, through spinal injections, trigger point injections, it was a slow process, man. It tried my patience a lot,” he said. “It just gave me a newfound love and respect for my job. And, you know, I think I took fighting for granted, man, and it humbled me and woke me up.

“It just made me really appreciative of the things that I have, and most important — outside of fighting — the body and the physical attributes that I’ve been fortunate to have been blessed with.

“I was not able to pull a five-pound band for like two months. I went from getting ready to fight Carlston Harris, and I was very strong that camp physically. I think I was the strongest I had ever been proud of at that point. “And within a week, I’ll never forget, everything just deteriorated. I was legitimately brought to my knees. It was one of the most sobering moments. But, I think just being around the team — coach Sayif Saud, being around fights and fighters — is what saved me, in essence. As cliche as it sounds, it saved my life.”

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