Earlier this year Benji “Razor” Radach was diagnosed with a potential career threatening neck injury that forced him to further prolong his return to MMA action after suffering a broken jaw last year. After weighing his options Radach had surgery earlier this month to correct the problem and is now undertaking the slow and painful rehabilitation process. Now that he’s had time to recover a little bit Radach spoke to MMA Weekly about his recovery and his decision to relocate to jump-start his career.
“I’m feeling better now after having a rough start,” said Radach. “The surgery went well, I had it on the 13th and the first day right off I had a lot of numbness but was able to get home all right. The next morning however and for about a week after that I was bed-ridden. I couldn’t even hold up my head, I physically had to put my hands on my face to lift it up because during the surgery they cut and move muscle and connective tissue to get at the spot they want to operate at.”
After an initial period where he was unable to do anything, Radach is now able to get out more and take the first steps towards making his return to athletic pursuits. “For a few weeks there I was laid up on painkillers but now I’m back to the point where I can do anything but grappling. I figure it will be about another 3-4 weeks before I’m able to start doing anything fight related. I’ve got to rehab my right arm and tricep and get strength back into it. That’s my KO hand so I have to make sure it’s healed before I can even think about fighting.”
While Radach’s neck will heal properly and will be back to normal, his hand sustained damage that is irreversible. According to Benji however it’s not something that he’s going to let hold him back or effect his daily routine.
“In three fingers on my right hand I don’t have any feeling at my fingertips,” commented Benji. “I don’t pay any attention to it now, I don’t even notice it anymore. The most important thing is getting strength back to my arm completely. I hurt it when I was training with Ivan Salaverry and Tito Ortiz when they came up to ATT (American Top Team Olympia) to get Ivan ready for his fight with Joe Riggs. I can flex the muscle and use it now, which is a lot better than before surgery where the nerves were completely cut off, there were no nerves going to it at all.”
The injuries came at a time when it was looking like Radach was going to make his return to MMA after missing nearly a year of action due to a broken jaw suffered at the hands of TUF’s Chris Leben at a Sportfight event last year. Radach had fights lined up and ready to go until he received word from his doctors that he had sustained serious bulging disc in his neck and would have to have it fixed or possibly suffer a career ending injury if it was further aggravated.
Rather than let himself get down over lost time, Benji is putting everything in the past with an optimistic eye towards the future and returning to the sport he loves. “What’s done is done, the way I think of it is that you’ll always have ups and downs in your life and most of the time the downs come before a big high. In the beginning of my career I had a high, I was winning my fights, I went to the UFC, all of my dreams were coming true, now I’m at the low point, so it’s about time to have a big high again. You’ve got to keep a good mood with this sort of setback and so I wont’ get down on it, I’ll use it to motivate me to get back to where I want to be.”
The future for Radach’s career is not far off, he’s medically cleared to fight again, so now all he has to do is put in the work and regain the strength and sharpness he had before the injury.
“I’m cleared to fight already but for my own personal reasons I don’t want to fight until I feel I’m fully healthy again. With my right hand needing work I’d hate to go out there left-handed and try to win. Don’t get me wrong I can hit with my left hand but my right hand is my bread and butter. Once it’s healed I’ll be ready to throwdown,” exclaimed Radach.
Benji is confident he’ll return to the fighting game by the end of the year. To ensure that he’s ready for action by then he’s decided to make a major change in scenery in order to further his career. “I want to fight hopefully sometime around October/November. Before that though I have to fully heal up to my standards and then I’m going to move down to Florida and join the ATT there.”
Radach had been a member of Victory Athletics, a team formed alongside longtime friend Dennis Hallman, among others. Last year Victory Athletics joined forces with the ATT to open a branch of the ATT in Olympia, Washington, which is the first for the team outside Florida. The association quickly led to an open door policy for fighters to train in both states.
As Radach explains, the move is for the betterment of his career, “I just want to be able to focus on fighting. For a long time now I was working a full-time job as an electrician and trying to balance that with teaching and training full-time wasn’t working. (Ricardo) Liborio has been a really big help to me lately. I had gone to Florida with Dennis and they invited me to come to Japan to corner Aaron Riley at Bushido. While we were there they really pushed my name to Pride and I hope something can come out of that.”
Benji continued, “When I’m able to train full-time I’ll be in great shape and ready to go full-bore. They’ve got an awesome gym and team down there and everyone trains full-time and they have an atmosphere down there that we really don’t have around here. Everyone up here has families and has work aside from fighting so it’s difficult to get everyone together and focus just on training. I want to train and compete with the guys that are the best in the world and to do that you can’t be focusing on anything other than fighting.”
As the conversation concluded Radach wanted to make sure to express just how grateful he is to everyone that’s shown him support during this difficult time in his life. “I want to say thanks to all the guys who supported me and I’ll do everything I can to train full-time and give them a better show and see me come back and be 110 percent and shock everyone. I want to especially thank Dennis Hallman, Ricardo Liborio, Shannon Knapp, MMA Weekly, and the tons and tons of friends and family that have been calling me and making sure I was doing all right. You know how truly blessed you are when something like this happens and people show you how much they really care.”