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Patricio Pitbull say he will ‘never’ be the same after suffering career-altering injury and undergoing surgery

Patricio Pitbull may never be the same after surgically repairing a pair of herniated discs, but his appetite to fight persists. Pitbull is back in action armor against short-notice replacement Gabriel Alves Braga at PFL vs. Bellator on Saturday where he gets to test out his healed body.

The Brazilian was forced to undergo cervical spine surgery after suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in his 20-year career. The first bad omen came before challenging Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis last summer.

“I had to sleep sitting on a chair I bought for when my kid was born. I couldn’t sleep lying down,” Pitbull told CBS Sports through a translator. “We were taking many precautions during camp. I didn’t get hit much during camp. They wouldn’t do any movements that would push my head down. We thought it was just a normal neck issue, nothing really serious. That’s why I went into the fight.”

Check out the full interview with Patricio Pitbull below.

Pitbull sensed something was seriously wrong after being rocked by a grazing spinning heel kick from Pettis.

“When Sergio grazed my head, I lost feeling in my legs,” Pitbull said. “That’s when I realized that I wasn’t well or rather compromised…”

After gutting trough five rounds in defeat against Pettis, he stepped in against Rizin’s Chihiro Suzuki just six weeks later with only a few days to prepare. It was a decision motivated by anger and his warrior principles. Pitbull also assumed his unsteadiness in the Pettis fight was an outlier.

“The feeling I had when I got that fight was of revenge,” Pitbull said. “I didn’t accept my loss to Pettis. I felt I would win that fight. I wanted to get rid of that defeat on my record as soon as possible. So I went in there with a little bit of anger in my heart. I just wanted to go in there and finish Chihiro and put that fight behind me.”

Pitbull entered the fight as arguably the greatest Bellator fighter in history. Suzuki knocked him out in less than three minutes.

“I’m a warrior, if someone is trying to invade my land and come at me, I’m not going to stand down,” Pitbull said. “So I said, ‘Alright, let’s do it.’ Of course, I thought I would win the fight. I didn’t expect it to be like that. Chihiro’s punch grazed my head just like Pettis’ kick and I lost the feeling in my legs again. This time, I wasn’t able to recover.”

The KO loss was enough to convince Pitbull to meet with a doctor and undergo surgery. The severity of Pitbull’s injuries was not noticed until after doctors cut him open. It appears Pitbull entered the Pettis and Suzuki fights with herniated C6 and C7 discs that caused neck pain and limb numbness.

“During surgery, when he opened me he saw that it was much worse than the image for the MRI showed. Not even the MRI showed how serious my injury was,” Pitbull said. “I don’t regret any of this. It made me a better person and fighter. It was good because I was able to find out what was really wrong with me and fix it. Now I’m plenty healthy and ready to get in there…”

Pitbull was preparing to fight PFL featherweight champion Jesus Pinedo at the PFL vs. Bellator supercard. He will instead fight Alves Braga on short notice. Pitbull is in better physical condition than he was before the surgery but he admits his body will never fully recover from the damage done.

“Once you have surgery, nothing gets back to the way it was before. So I’ll never be like I used to be before I had the injury and surgery,” Pitbull said. “But I still have KO power. I’m almost 100% and I’m ready and able to fight. I can still beat many people the way I am right now.”

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