Brazilian welterweight Vanilto Antunes went through quite the scare before his title unification bout at Favela Kombat 35. Only three days prior to the November 21 event, the 26-year-old survived a serious car accident on a highway in the state of Rio de Janeiro, but came out of it unscathed and won his match without even having to delay the contest.
In an interview with Combate, Antunes explained how his car was directly hit on the side by another vehicle, which caused Vanilto’s car to flip three times and stop upside down on the middle of the road. Fortunately, the Brazilian did not panic and managed to kick out the window glass and escape from the vehicle uninjured.
“I was listening to gospel music on the radio and all of a sudden ‘boom’. I felt goosebumps. I didn’t pass out at any moment. I was the whole thing, my car flipping and flipping. When it stopped, it started to smoke a lot. I thought it was going to blow up. What got to me was seeing that the car was upside down when it stopped. I broke the glass with my foot and managed to escape through the door. The only feeling was death. Like it’s over, my time is up. Any human being would’ve thought the same: ‘I’m going to die’.”
“It’s the worst feeling in the world. I don’t wish that on anyone.” Antunes continued. “I saw my life flash before my eyes in five seconds. The car that hit me was running from something, it didn’t stop to help me. I think they thought that nobody could have survived that. The people who did stop said it was a miracle. I came out unscathed, walking on my own. It was the hand of God that held me through it.”
Although the car had insurance, Antunes says there was nothing to salvage. The only silver lining is that Vanilto’s pregnant wife and their dog, who usually make that trip with him every week, chose to stay in her parents’ house that day.
“We always go back together, but this time she said she didn’t want to go. The passenger side of the car was completely destroyed and that’s where my wife would be sitting. Our dog would be bouncing around in the car like a marble. What a deliverance. My wife is at the beginning of her pregnancy. I was worried about the baby, what that scare could do to the pregnancy. I’m going to be a dad and I thought: ‘Now that my life is starting to get on the right path, my time is up?’.”
“I thought about my boy or girl who’s on the way.” Antunes continued. “It all happened so fast. 30 seconds prior to it, everything was perfect. Then, suddenly, I could have died or ended up in a wheelchair.”
Antunes (13-5) was the Favela Kombat linear champion and had a title unification bout against interim champ Uemerson Ferreira, which he won by unanimous decision three days after the accident. Before that, the Brazilian had suffered a knockout loss to Sergey Romanov, back in April.