Fighting Doc breaks down the Chito Vera vs Sean O’Malley fight finish

September 13, 2020

Resident physician David Liang, based out of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) gives us his perspective on the Chito Vera / Sean O’Malley fight finish.

Vera and O’Malley met for a highly anticipated co-main event at UFC 252. It was exciting while it lasted, but the stunning ending left many fight fans confused. Fluke or legit finish?

Let's break it down.

💥 First off, it seems that the calf kick may have struck again!

💥 For quick review, a nerve called the common peroneal travels behind the fibular head on the outside of your lower leg. When not damaged, this nerve's branches powers the muscles that point your foot up and keep it from buckling inwards. You can see from the clip that Vera's kick lands precisely on the sweet spot. And just moments later, you can tell that O'Malley's right ankle is already compromised. But is that the whole story?

💥 Two years ago, O'Malley sustained a Lisfranc injury in his right foot for which he underwent surgery. This occurs when the ligaments connecting the bones of the forefoot and midfoot are damaged, commonly by trauma to the top of the foot (ie blocked kicks). It's an injury that may cause continued instability and weight-bearing difficulty even after initial treatment. So it's possible that the ankle buckling and slamming of the top of Sean's foot into the canvas could have aggravated the old injury. It's also possible that he had re-injured it earlier and the calf kick just made things worse. Either way, the result was the same.

Video Credits: FootEducation

💥 At the end of the fight, O'Malley is seen holding the outside of his lower leg in pain. Rolling of the ankle inwards, leading to damage to the anterior talo-fibular ligament (ATFL), is how most ankle sprains can occur. However, severe enough sprains may cause fractures in the fibula. Let's hope that he did not sustain any degree of this.

💥 You hate to see lingering injuries affect a young fighter like this. But take nothing away from Vera, who executed the attack which started the sequence of events leading to the stoppage. Regardless, both fighters remain legit contenders in the shark tank that is the UFC 135 lbs division.

By: David Liang, MD
Resident Physician and Combat Sports Practitioner

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