From ACL Reconstruction Surgery to Fighting MMA

The Last Chapter

This is the very last post of the “My Journey to The Cage” series and it has really been a great journey. I started this when, in preparing for my MMA debut, during wrestling practice, I violently ruptured my ACL… the beginning of a long lay off and, at 36 years of age, many though of it as the end of my martial arts “career”.

It is surreal to think that this happened two years ago; at this time back then I was about to enter the operating theatre with a ruptured ACL, torn meniscus and MCL. In two years, thanks to a great surgeon, rigorous discipline, continuous rehab, the right people around me and a massive dose of POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE I managed to move on and get a few things done:

Run a few 10K races


Won a National Kickboxing title


Lost 12Kg (26.4lbs)







And I also achieved my goal to compete in MMA this happened last Sunday 1st June at British Challenge MMA (BCMMA) organized by Christopher Cook and Jack “The Stone” Mason.

The Fight

10380750_10152069603445800_2470677868382324129_nAfter having, according to others (still waiting for the video to watch), won the first round, landing a couple of effective spinning back kicks to the body, a few punches, a slam a la Jimmy “Crash” Quinlan, a few knees and a Guillotine choke which wasn’t too many miles away from being the one move to get me the W, on the second round unfortunately I got caught in a bad spot with my opponent taking my back and patiently sinking in a RNC which eventually got me to tap. You can read a full review here (half way down the page)

But I won anyways! I had immense fun and achieved something great! When I ruptured my ACL (and in a really bad way) and then decided to that I would have not stopped, that I would have made it back, many said “you are too old”, “you should do something else” they said, “your knee won’t be the same” they said.

I did’t feel old and the knee is better than before! I fought and loved it. This is my victory.

The Mindset

10325515_10152069603745800_6368218477249991183_nI was awarded “Entrance of the night” award and I have not done anything extraordinary to get it. I have not walked out with dancers, a mask or some special effect. I simply walked in there with true excitement, enjoyment and fun! It isn’t about WHERE we are heading to, it’s really about HOW we get there (not just in MMA, in life too)!

Of my 70 days camp (including the fight itself) I had 69 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds of absolute BLAST and pure euphoric ENJOYMENT! And only 1 SECOND of “bad” time when my neck was being squeezed like an orange.

I have seen countless athletes (and people in all walks of life) hating or not enjoying most moments of what they were doing hoping to get the enjoyment-payback from a positive result… Guess what, positive outcomes aren’t always predictable and sometimes take a long damn time to come if they come at all! Sure it feels good to win and succeed but I believe that it’s only through unconditional love for what we do that we can be successful – win or lose… And when we truly love what we do the win always comes.

I lost but I feel confident that the guys at BCMMA , the crowd who paid to see the fights, my friends, colleagues, sponsors, my team and all involved would have me back. And I believe they would because I loved it and love spreads Moral of the story for me is, we must either learn to enjoy what we do or do something we can enjoy. Any other option is a waste of life!


It really does not matter where you are at today, it does not matter how far your destination seems at this stage, if you set your goals, make a practical plan, surround yourself with the right people and be persistent and consistent, you WILL achieve your goals! The biggest mistake we can make is to let circumstance dictate our future.

We are our future, what we do today will dictate what we become tomorrow, don’t be a product of your past, write your own story, act now as the hero of your story and DECIDE your future!

Good luck.


The most spacial thanks has to go to Jack Mason for all his advice and help… the man is a true LEGEND of the sport and an insanely amazing coach!

Thanks to all the sparring and training mates! And Luke Barnatt for being a continuous inspiration!

Thanks to Ciaron and all the Genies at Genie Ventures for the support.

Thanks very much to my sponsors and coaches who help me look, feel and fight good

17 thoughts on “From ACL Reconstruction Surgery to Fighting MMA

  1. Great story. Found it as I was searching for motivation to stick with BJJ. I tore my ACL twice in my left knee and had it repaired twice. Just tore my right ACL with surgery scheduled soon. Most people tell me to give it up, but I don’t want to. Good luck and thanks for sharing.

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  3. Being that you were unable to train, how did you keep ting rust to a minimum?
    Study fight film, coach others from the sidelines?

  4. Heya Luca I shredded my ACL in 2013 I’ve been out of training for almost 2 an half years I’ve recently started back at kickboxing my leg seems strong but so alien there a pain that builds up in my knee did you have the same pain at all I don’t want to give up and I’m sick of hearing people tell me too just wondering what type of treatment did you have for your knee reading all this gave me a confidence boost that I can make it into the ring.

    • Hi Joseph, what kind of surgery did you have (eg dos they use the patella, arm string)?

      The key for me has been stretches for the mobility and strength. Most of the pain was due to lack of mobility. The pain is perfectly normal, you haven’t made full use of that knee for a long time yet you move the rest of your body as always. Consequently your knee needs to adapt… Think of it as a member of the team that needs to catch up! Beside, operations like that are intrusive and can cause pain to other parts of the knee.

      Continue with stretches (I found loads of good advice on YouTube) and strength exercises- I did loads of squats and one-legged squats.

      For me the pain decreased the more I progressed (gradually) with training. If I stop for a few weeks, once I resume the pain is often there – it goes away soon though.

      I’m not a doctor so you obviously need to check with one if unsure but I am confident that anyone who had a successful acl reconstruction can make it back… Just need to be smart about it.

      Good luck mate!

  5. Well done on your achievements! I’m 38 and was scheduled to have my first Muay Thai fight when I tore my alc clinching. I’m 17 weeks post surgery and am keen to get back and still fulfill this dream. It’s what’s keeping me motivated and focused although I have that nagging thought of my age and worry about re-injury but reading your story has given me more resolve to keep going. I’m back boxing on pads with my trainer (no kicking yet), doing bag work, jogging and s & c.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thanks for the comment Miho, that’s great that you’re on it. It will all come together if you stick with it. Listen to your body and if you listen well enough you’ll know when you can push and when you need to chill. Good luck mate.

      I’m fighting a week today… :)

    • Hi Milo,

      Glad to hear you are pursuing your dream of fighting.

      I completely sympathise with you as l ruptured my ACL last Wednesday while sparring and I to was planning to fight. I’m 37 this year and everyone keeps telling me I need to stop training and relax but this has only made me more determined to reach my goal of fighting. Be strong, focus and I’m sure we will come back stronger. Good luck on your journey :)

  6. Great story! I can relate to the very beginning of it. 5 months ago when I was 35 years old I violently ruptured my ACL a meniscus tear while ptactician jiu jitsu. I’m now 36, 2 weeks ago I had a second surgery with another surgeon for another meniscus tear (same place it was teared before) and scar tissue removal. I have not been able to walk normal since the first surgery let alone run. I do keep a positive attitude and I hope I can relate to the rest of your story in the future ☺ I don’t want to do MMA I just hope I can practice Kick Boxing like I did in the past and Jiu Jitsu, and hopefully be able to compete in grappling tournaments and finish my journey to get my black belt. I ruptured my ACL 2 months before testing for purple. Thanks for sharing such an awesome story and important message.

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