At only 29-years of age, some might wonder why Denis is walking away so young , with fights still remaining on his UFC contract.
Well as the former biochemistry major explains it, after doing a lot of research into brain injuries and concussions, Denis decided to stop risking his own health in training and fights and walk away while he still could.
“After my first loss, a devastating knockout where Marlon Sandro dribbled my head on the canvas like a basketball, I did lots of research on concussions. As a graduate student at the university of Ottawa, I had access to all peer reviewed scientific journals. No surprise to find that concussions = bad. However, I found something that had never occurred to me. Sub-concussive trauma. Basically, a blow to the head that doesn’t lead to a concussion. When it happens, you feel fine, and continue on. Maybe you feel like you just had a little brain scramble, nothing big,” Denis described in his blog.
“Those who spar, know what I am talking about. However these add up. They accumulate, from training session to training session, year after year. The research papers found that men who never had an actual concussion, rather only sub-concussive trauma, (they used football/hockey players) when brain scans were administered to them (can’t remember if it was MRI or CT), their brain morphology was decayed like that of individuals with later stages of neurodegenerative disorders.”
Denis goes onto say that he promised himself if he experienced one more concussion that he would retire, and as certain damage continued to mount, he couldn’t ignore the warning signs any longer.
“In the last couple years, and especially in the last few months leading up to my May 5th fight, while sparring I would notice that when I got hit, it would affect me more and more. When I first started sparring I would run through punches unaffected. Not only that, but now training at Tristar, I am literally training with the worlds best. We are all training at the highest level, all for the same reasons. Could I fight in the UFC, against the best fighters in our solar system, literally trained killers, without sparring in training? Not really, so what was I to do? I have made the decision to retire,” explained Denis.
During his brief UFC career, Denis went 1-1 with a stunning first round knockout in his debut over Joseph Sandoval, and now walks away from the sport to focus on his health and other endeavors.