by Mick Hammond
When seen at his last fight, Brian Gassaway was fighting for his life against Diego Sanchez. And while he fought gallantly, in the end damage from Sanchez’s relentless assault forced Gassaway to submit two minutes into the second round. Shortly after the fight it was clear that Gassaway had suffered severe injuries to his face during the fight and that he would require surgery.
Now a little over a month after the fight, Gassaway, having begun his recovery, took time out of his schedule to talk to MMA Weekly about the fight, the resulting injuries, and his thoughts about the wrongful portrayals of him on the internet.
“I went into surgery a couple weeks after the fight because I had multiple broken bones and basically a hole the size of a half-dollar in my face,” said Gassaway. “The doctors put a couple of titanium plates in my face so the bones would heal properly. The plates are about an inch in length and a little less than that in width.”
Brian continued, “I’m sure the damage happened in the first round by a well placed elbow. The main bone fractured was my maxilla (a nasal bone) right below my eye socket and some of my nasal cavity was crushed. I think there were three fractures.”
According to Gassaway, the bones should heal properly and the plates should not alter his appearance. “Right now my face is still swollen from the surgery but once it goes down I should look just about the same. There might be a slight difference but the doctors said there shouldn’t be any change.”
Gassaway heading into the fight had been primarily known as a striker from his years of competition in both MMA and Shidokan Karate. Once the fight started Brian uncharacteristically altered his strategy and as he says, cost him the fight.
“I think I had a good gameplan going into the fight but once the bell sounded I changed it,” admitted Brian. “I was too worried about defending the takedown so I didn’t mount any offense. Consequently, I gave him time to set himself and take me down at will. He was able to shoot in whenever he wanted instead of me forcing him to shoot and then reacting off of that.”
If sustaining an injury in a loss wasn’t bad enough; Gassaway has had to deal with the negative reactions fans have given him on the internet as a result of the fight. Reactions that Brian feels aren’t an accurate reflection of who he is as a fighter and what he’s capable of, considering that over half his wins have come via submission.
“There’s a lot of people on the internet talking shit about me having no ground game,” said Gassaway. “First off it’s just stupid and narrow-minded for them to base their judgment off of one fight. That’s like saying that everyone Diego’s faced doesn’t have a ground game because does the same thing to everyone he fights. I’d hate to think it’s adults out there writing this stuff, I mean everyone is entitled to their opinion but it is just ridiculous. You know I think it’s funnier than anything else.”
Regardless of opinions, right now Brian has to continue to heal before he can begin the arduous task of getting back to the fight game. “I only have one more doctor visit to go and so far they’ve been telling me I should be able to compete if everything heals correctly. Bones don’t take that long to heal and I got everything taken care of asap, so that helps. I would like to thank the UFC, not all organizations would cover the medical bills, they did and I appreciate it.”
“Right now I haven’t been training but after I’m cleared I’ll start running and get back into condition before I start training hard again,” said Brian as he closed out the conversation. “It’s been a live and learn situation and not one single fight is a career breaker. I’m going to get healthy and fight again because I’m looking to make 2006 my year.”