While it’s a job, it’s safe to say most fighters love what they do. So having the chance to ply their craft, earn a payday to provide for their families, and perform in front of thousands of screaming fans is a pretty enjoyable experience.
Now take that normal level of excitement for any UFC competitor, multiply it by a thousand, and you might be able to feel what Mike Swick is feeling as he heads into UFC on Fox 4 this weekend in Los Angeles.
Absent from the Octagon for over two years now, Swick returns on Saturday and the fact that he’s even able to step foot in the cage is already a bit of a miracle.
The former Ultimate Fighter season 1 cast member had been dealing with serious stomach ailments over the last couple of years, and after being misdiagnosed by doctors and dropping 30 pounds in the process, Swick wasn’t sure he’d ever fight again, much less be able to regain his health.
“I never thought about quitting, but there was a time where I thought my body wasn’t going to be able to handle this kind of training with my diet and health and all the medications and all the stuff I was going through at the time. All the experimental procedures and stuff they were trying to do to fix my condition,” Swick told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I definitely thought there was no way I’d be a professional athlete if this stuff got any worse or continued.”
At the time, Swick was eating a third of what he would normally eat during a training camp, and had less and less energy as time went on. Eventually he took it upon himself to start researching the illness and realized that he may not have what the doctors originally diagnosed him with.
“I didn’t know what was wrong and even through a couple of my fights at welterweight, there were some big scares. I didn’t know if I had something that was a lot more serious than it turned out to be and it’s scary. Anything that stops you from being able to eat, and has the effects that this has had, it’s a pretty serious thing,” said Swick.
Swick found out that he actually had esophageal spasms, which can cause sudden and severe chest pains and can affect a person being able to eat regularly.
Once he was diagnosed correctly, Swick started to eat again, put weight back on and the energy and the desire to fight returned in a hurry.
With his stomach ailments behind him, Swick was ready to once again pursue his UFC dream, but he then suffered a knee injury that put him on the shelf for an extended period of time, delaying his return.
Swick doesn’t deny that between the severe weight loss, the stomach issues he was having, and then coupled with a serious knee injury, times got tough. He was never ready to call it a career, however.
“Super tough. It is what it is. It was another hurdle and that’s what a hurdle is; it’s meant to be jumped. You’ve got to be positive about it and push forward, but it’s tough,” Swick said. “It’s tough when you’ve got to sit on the sideline and not compete in a sport that you love and been a part of for so long, and then just watch show after show after show as a fan. It’s great to be a fan, but after you’ve had 12 UFC fights, it’s hard to become only a fan.”
There was a lot of rest and a lot of rehabilitation, but once Swick’s body got back into form, he started to shape and craft himself back into the fighter that fans remembered from just a couple of years earlier.
“Absolutely amazing, one of my best camps. I do feel extremely healthy, I feel strong and fast, and I’m just ready to go,” Swick stated.
It’s safe to say Mike Swick always appreciated his job with the UFC, but like the Joni Mitchell song says “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” and he appreciates this second chance more than anyone will ever know.
“I thought I had my career taken from me because of my health and my symptoms, and the things I was going through, and now I have that second chance and I’m going to make the most of it. It’s going to show on August 4,” said Swick.
“I’m going to fight every single fight like it’s my last fight.”