Injury Report: UFC 296 drafts in Bryce Mitchell, Jan Blachowicz heading to the sidelines

In our first edition of the Bloody Elbow Injury Report, we dissect the injuries that have happened in the UFC, BKFC, and more!

By: Kristen King | 3 months
Injury Report: UFC 296 drafts in Bryce Mitchell, Jan Blachowicz heading to the sidelines
Bryce Mitchell before he fought Ilia Topuria.

Injuries happen a lot in this sport, so we decided to compile everything on them here in our (new) Injury Report round-up! Did a fight get canceled due to injury? We got it. Did a fighter undergo surgery? We got it. Did a fighter grow a hematoma the size of a planet? Gross, but we got it. 

This week, we have a little of everything, so let’s dissect. 

UFCancelations (due to injury)

Allan Nascimento (knee)

We have had some changes to the upcoming UFC schedule due to injury. Diego Ribas of AgFight reported that Allan Nascimento was forced out of his fight against Su Madaerji at UFC Fight Night: Song vs. Gutiérrez this Saturday. The reason? Nascimento revealed that he hurt himself during one of his final training sessions. Though he had not shared what the injury was, his recent Instagram Stories appear to show that it was something related to his knee. 

On Wednesday, ‘Puro Osso’ revealed he was receiving care for his knee at the UFC Performance Institute. 

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With Nascimento out against Madaerji, UFC contender Tim Elliott is in on days’ notice. X users MagicM_MMABets and Patrick McCorry were the first to report the new fight. As far as the fight goes, Elliott is excellent on the ground, Sumaderji is fast on the feet, so I have this on my most anticipated list for Saturday (and you should, too!).  

Giga Chikadze (groin)

Following a win against Alex Caceres at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Korean Zombie, Giga Chikadze hoped to get a fight scheduled for the final event of the year. He got his wish, and the Georgian fighter was paired up against another contender in Josh Emmett at UFC 296 next Saturday.

Sadly, that fight was canceled, as Chikadze suffered a groin injury during one of his final sparring sessions. On Monday, he shared a video of how it happened. 

Here is the exact moment Giga Chikadze tore his groin.

I hate that we lost this fight, but in his most recent update, Chikadze hinted that we could still see it. After a visit to Dr. Michael Setareh, the Georgian said he could compete toward the end of January. Great! However, Emmett had already requested a replacement for Chikadze, and the UFC found him. Enter Bryce Mitchell. Per a report from X user MagicM_MMABets, stepping in for ‘Ninja’ is none other than ‘Thug Nasty,’ who recently returned to the win column with a decision win against Dan Ige at UFC Fight Night: Fiziev vs. Gamrot in September. 

Jan Blachowicz (shoulder)

Though he wanted to avoid doing so, former UFC champion Jan Blachowicz says he has no choice but to withdraw from his upcoming fight against Aleksandar Rakic due to a shoulder injury. The pair were set to rematch at UFC 297, the upcoming pay-per-view scheduled for Jan. 20, 2024, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. But, after continuing to train in pain for months, Blachowicz realized he would enter the Octagon against Rakic at less than 100 percent — something he said was ’stupid’. 

So, the Polish fighter is instead undergoing surgery. No word yet on when Blachowicz expects to return. 

Bare Knuckle Bruisin’

We can always count on seeing some of the most gruesome injuries whenever we watch any bare-knuckle boxing bouts. In this installment of the Injury Report, we have three (!) to discuss. 

Up first is a one-two combo from Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC).

Jimmie Rivera (cut) — BKFC 56

Jimmie Rivera found himself on the receiving end of a Jeremy Stephens uppercut at BKFC 56 this past Saturday. The result? A gruesome gash that was enough to warrant the end of their fight

Despite a strong start from Rivera, things started to change after Stephens found success in the clinch, especially in the third round. A perfectly timed uppercut from ‘Lil Heathen’ sent ‘El Terror’ to the canvas. After Rivera returned to his feet, you could see the damage the punch did and it was nasty. The ex-UFC fighter finished the round, but before he could head out for the fourth, a doctor deemed him unfit to continue due to the injury. 

Jimmie Rivera suffered a gruesome gash at BKFC 56.

Eddie Alvarez (broken orbital) — BKFC 56

We were promised a war when Mike Perry vs. Eddie Alvarez was announced for BKFC 56 — and we got it. Within four minutes, these two were already worse for wear. Both were bleeding. Both were swelling. But Alvarez got the worst of it, which was clear when he got to his corner. The ‘Underground King’ said he was struggling to see, leading to head coach Mark Henry waving off the fight

At his post-fight press conference, Alvarez suspected he had a broken orbital, and he was right. 

“Confirmed two fractures in my left orbital one was [a] re-fracture,” wrote Alvarez on X. “[Would have] been a thing of beauty to close out to the show for the fans. I felt great. This game is wild and unpredictable as can be. It’s why I love it. The show goes on! Love you guys.”

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Mark Irwin (hematoma) — BYB 22

If I were to give someone examples of a really gross hematoma, my go-tos would include George Mann after ONE Championship: Heart of the Lion (2018), Joanna Jedrzejczyk after UFC 248 (2020), and now, Mark Irwin after BYB 22 this past Saturday.  

Irwin and his opponent, Julio Tanori-Rodriguez, gave us a great fight (watch it here, starting at 1:37:30!), but there was something greater to come out of it: the size of the hematoma on Irwin. Around the final minute of the fourth round, one commentator goes, ‘Look at the head of Mark Irwin!’ I looked, and there it was. The referee paused the action to have his corner address it with an enswell, but, man. That thing was swollen. 

As expected, the hematoma continued to swell throughout the fifth and sixth rounds. And if you thought there was no way it could get worse for Irwin, you were wrong. After some more exchanges, his ear seemingly explodes! Despite his injuries, Irwin fought on, losing a decision to Tanori-Rodriguez. 

In an update to Nolan King of MMA Junkie, the former BYB champion revealed he suffered a fractured jaw and nasal cavity. 

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Sittin’ on the Sidelines

Khamzat Chimaev (hand)

We have to wait a few months to see Khamzat Chimaev fight again. After adding a former UFC champion to his résumé in Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 this past October, Chimaev revealed he suffered a hand injury. The torn ligament was severe enough to require surgery, which ‘Borz’ has scheduled. 

“I’m going to do a surgery, operation in one, two weeks,” said Chimaev during a recent Instagram Live (H/T MMA Crazy). “After that, do the recovery, come back, smash somebody.”

Regarding his return timeline, Chimaev hinted at UFC 300, the pay-per-view event rumored for April. 

Emanuel Navarrete (hand)

After undergoing a ‘minor’ surgery to repair his left hand, Emanuel Navarrete hopes to return to the ring early next year. The WBO junior lightweight champion recently fought to a majority draw with Robson Conceição in November. During that fight, Navarrete said he re-aggravated an old injury that compromised his performance. 

So, after consulting with his team, Navarrete decided to undergo surgery ahead of his next defense.

“I’ll keep you posted on how the recovery is going, but I’m sure in the early months of 2024 we’ll be ready for the new challenges that arise,” wrote Navarrete on Instagram. “I am a Mexican warrior that will never withdraw [from] any challenge or commitment, but out of respect to you and my career, I will never again give any advantage.”

Ready to Return 

Gilbert Burns (shoulder)

In his most recent Octagon appearance, Gilbert Burns suffered a shoulder injury in the first round of his fight against Belal Muhammad. Kevin Nicholson, a friend of Bloody Elbow, referred to it as an AC joint injury or the ‘other shoulder injury’ (read and subscribe to his Substack for more information). In this instance, ‘Durinho’ suffered a Type III AC joint injury, which could require surgery to repair it depending on its severity. 

Fortunately, Burns’ did not require surgery, so after a few months of recovery, he is ready to return to the Octagon. In an interview with Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, the Brazilian has set his sights on fighting at UFC 299 or UFC 300, which are scheduled for March and April. 

Brandon Moreno (hand)

Former UFC champion Brandon Moreno is healthy again! After fighting four of five rounds against Alexandre Pantoja with a broken hand at UFC 290 in July, the ‘Assassin Baby’ returns against Amir Albazi in a potential No. 1 contender this February (first rep. by ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Contreras Legaspi) —unless the promotion needs his services sooner. 

Not only does Moreno have a fight against Albazi on tap, but he was also appointed as the official backup fighter for Pantoja (C) vs. Brandon Royval next Saturday (first rep. by Marcel Dorff of Eurosport Nederland). Should something happen to either the champion or the challenger ahead of UFC 296, Moreno steps in. 

ATTN: Needs Medical Clearance

UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Tsarukyan medical suspensions

A handful of fighters from UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Tsarukyan require clearance to return to competition.

The full list of suspensions is as follows (obtained by Steven Marrocco of MMA Fighting):

FighterResult Length of Suspension
Arman TsarukyanFirst-round KO win against Dariush30 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Beneil DariushFirst-round KO loss to Tsarukyan60 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Jalin TurnerFirst-round KO win against GreenSeven days
Bobby GreenFirst-round KO loss to Turner60 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Deiveson FigueiredoUnanimous decision win against Font14 days
Rob FontUnanimous decision loss to Figueiredo30 days
Sean BradyThird-round sub win against Gastelum10 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Kelvin GastelumThird-round sub loss to BradySeven days
Joaquim SilvaUnanimous decision win against Guida60 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Clay GuidaUnanimous decision loss to Silva30 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Dustin StoltzfusSecond-round sub win against SorianoSeven days
Punahele SorianoSecond-round sub loss to StoltzfusSeven days
Miesha TateThird-round sub win against Avila30 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Julia AvilaThird-round sub loss to Tate45 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Cody BrundageFirst-round KO win against ReeseSeven days
Zachary ReeseFirt-round KO loss to Brundage30 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Drakkar KloseFirst-round KO win against SoleckiSeven days
Joe SoleckiFirst-round KO loss to Klose60 days
Rodolfo BellatoSecond-round TKO win against Potieira30 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Ihor PotieiraSecond-round TKO loss to Bellato60 days
Jared GoodenSecond-round sub win against Turman45 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Wellington TurmanSecond-round sub loss to Gooden45 days (minimum), also 180 days unless medically cleared
Veronica HardySplit decision win against Horth10 days
Jamey-Lyn HorthSplit decision loss to Hardy30 days

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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