Well traveled MMA veteran, Phil Baroni suffered a nasty injury on his last bout. He took on ONE FC contender Nobutatsu Suzuki and he was looking good earlier on, landing hard shots to his opponent. By the end of the first round though, a freak accident happened as the Japanese fighter was rushing in with excellent combinations of his own. Amidst the action, Baroni's right foot got stuck on the gap between the cage and the mat, and as he fell down at an awkward angle, it turned into a gruesome sight as his foot was turned in the wrong direction.
Check out the gif below courtesy of BE's Zombie Prophet:
That was on May 31, when Baroni was stretchered out of the cage. It was diagnosed as a dislocated ankle and a fractured fibula, which required surgery. Doctor's told him recovering from it would take one year at best, and that it was most likely career ending.
As he got back to the US, Baroni had surgery using 8 screws to stabilize the ankle and fractured fibula. He remained on crutches for about 3 and a half months:
After pushing hard during rehab, the NYBA has reached a milestone as he has now been cleared for training. This week marks the 5th month since that fateful night in Manila, and the veteran is already back in the gym and way ahead of schedule.
BloodyElbow.com has footage of his first day back doing light training below, and you can already see Baroni moving very well despite the earlier diagnosis of a probable career-ending injury.
Here's BE's resident Physical Therapist, Kevin Nicholson with some analysis and additional information on recovering from such an injury:
From the evidence in this video, Baroni is doing quite well in his recovery. He appears to be moving well, and is demonstrating some push-off with the injured right foot, and lateral movement too. Hopefully, he is still undergoing rehabilitation specific to the injury, particularly proprioception and balance retraining. If not, Baroni could run into problems with his foot work in the cage. It is important to blend the rehab-specific components of his recovery with his general training in preparation for a return to the cage. The fractured fibula is not really a problem, as it is not a weight-bearing bone.
Ultimately, if Phil has met his recovery milestones set by his doctor and rehab team, is having no adverse effects of ramping up his rehab and training regimen, and has the desire to come back, there is no reason he shouldn't be able to return early in 2014.
"I'll walk away when I'm ready to say goodbye, and I'm just not ready to say that yet. In fact, I hate goodbyes. I've always hated goodbyes. I'm going to fight again because I can," Baroni told Bloody Elbow, "People can say and think what they want - I just feel fighting again is something I have to do."
Despite people saying it couldn't be done, Phil is already making huge progress and says he's looking to make a return on early 2014, with a possible drop down to lightweight even.