Klose returns to the octagon for the first time in 25 months on Saturday when he meets Brandon Jenkins in a lightweight bout at UFC on ESPN 34 from he UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Almost exactly a year ago, Klose (11-2-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was supposed to fight Stephens at UFC on ESPN 22, but a hard shove from Stephens during their faceoff forced Klose to withdraw. After the incident, Klose said he “immediately” felt his hand go numb and “neck tighten up.”
Sounds unbelievable that a professional fighter who gets punched in the face for a living could be affected so badly by a shove, right? And it’s something that Stephens has since joked about. Yet, to hear Klose tell it, what happened and what he’s dealt with is no laughing matter.
“I’m still not 100 percent from that. It’s something I will probably need surgery eventually,” Klose told Just Scrap Radio on BJPenn.com. “I told myself if I have to get surgery, I’m just going to call it quits. Just trying to manage it and do the therapy and all that. I did think that was going to be the end of me. I was having really bad headaches, dealing with my neck issue. It is something serious.
“When I saw my doctor, he talked about fusing my neck, and I didn’t want to hear that. I want to go out on my terms. I don’t want to go out with the doctor telling me I can’t do this. It was a herniated disc, C6, C7. As soon as it happened, my whole arm went numb, and later that night, things weren’t right, and I woke up, couldn’t open my eyes, a real bad headache.”
Luckily for Klose, the UFC still paid him his “show” and promotional compliance pay money despite the fight cancellation. UFC president Dana White, who didn’t preside over faceoffs that day, was critical of matchmaker Sean Shelby’s inability to prevent the shove from happening.
Still, Klose hinted at being displeased with how the promotion handled the situation outside of that.
“There is a lot of other stuff that I will probably say when I’m done fighting, but they pay me, so I will keep my mouth shut,” Klose said. “They ended up giving me my show money, but they never said anything to me. To me, it’s kind of ridiculous. He really f*cked me up. I remember driving home from that fight, and I was crying. I don’t know why I was crying, but my head was so messed up. It’s a business for them. They don’t care. It’s all numbers for them. When I’m gone, someone else will be in my spot.”