boxing

UFC’s Brad Tavares targets end-of-year return from ACL surgery


Brad Tavares has been forced out of action, but after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, the teak-tough Hawaiian is targeting a return by the end of 2020.

Tavares (17-6 MMA, 12-6 UFC) dropped back-to-back losses to future middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and rising contender Edmen Shahbazyan, and was all set to face Brazilian Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC on ESPN+ 28 in Brasilia before suffering a knee injury in training.

“Just training for a fight with (Cara de) Sapato, planted and my knee just buckled,” Tavares told MMA Junkie during a recent Dominance MMA media day. “Tore my ACL, tore my meniscus, fractured my femur. It sounds a lot worse than it actually is!”

Tavares explained that he initially thought he could bounce back faster without surgery, but eventually he made the decision to go under the knife following the advice from staff at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

“What I tried to do at first was, there’s a bunch of fighters who don’t have ACLs, it’s something some people can do without, and I tried to do it and did aggressive rehab for four weeks. I was getting good results, but just not the results that we wanted,” he said.

“So the staff at the UFC PI, we decided that I should go ahead and do surgery, and ultimately that’s what I ended up doing. And I’m honestly glad that I did, because right when I made the decision to do surgery, I thought, ‘(Expletive) it. I can’t mess up my knee any more. I’m going to go spar.’ So I went to sparring the next day and just throwing a jab, trying to plant on my leg, (it) buckled. So I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m glad I made the decision to do the surgery.’

“I felt like that route would have put me out for a shorter amount of time. Being that last year, after I fought Izzy, I broke my arm and was out for over a year. I wasn’t trying to be out for a long period again. So if that was an option, I wanted to see if I could do it, but I ended up doing the surgery anyway.”

Now in the recovery stage, Tavares says he’s making swift progress and thinks he’ll be back and ready to fight again ahead of the prescribed schedule.

“They told me any ACL is usually six to nine months, ACL reconstruction. But already I’ve been responding really well,” Tavares said. “I’m four weeks post-op now, and my range of motion, my strength, my stability, all of those things are very very good – a lot better than most people on the same timeline. So I’m optimistic, and I’m one of those when they tell me six months, I say four.

“But, that being said, I’m not going to rush it. I’m not doing anything stupid. I definitely think it’s something I can fight at the end of this year. I don’t think that it’ll take me longer than six months. Six months I think is the absolute longest it will take.

“I’m not taking any more chances with anything. I can play flag football when it’s all said and done.”



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