UFC middleweight Alan “The Talent” Belcher recently suffered a detached retina that has required two surgeries so far and is still a potentially career-threatening injury. Belcher recently spoke with MMAJunkie.com about his recovery and about the role that fans play in keeping his spirits up.
“The fans have been really supportive,” Belcher said. “I spend a lot of time going through fan mail. They’re sympathetic to my situation, and I’m getting a lot of motivation to get back in there. They’re not letting me forget the roll I was on and how I was close to the top.”
“The Talent” pulled out of a scheduled September 15th bout against Demian Maia on August 1st after undergoing his first surgery to correct the injury. The retina detached again after the that surgery, necessitating a second, and hopefully final, surgery.
“It’s not hereditary, but the doctors say I may be prone (to additional detachments) because my retina is thin,” he said. “They can be caused from blows to the head or other trauma that causes tears in the retina that ultimately make them detach. The second time was just from the healing process. The scar tissue caused more tears, and it detached again. If it heals up good, it probably won’t have any more chance of detaching. Well, I won’t have any worse chance than anyone else, I should say.”
The Biloxi, Mississippi-stationed fighter is weighing the choice of making an eventual comeback against the possibility of losing most or all of his eyesight in both eyes due to his increased susceptibility for detaching retinas.
“The biggest problem we’re looking at is if my eyesight doesn’t get better, and if my other retina detaches, then I’ll basically be blind in both eyes instead of just one,” said Belcher. “That’s the main thing I’m trying to do – is getting my eyesight better in my right eye where I’d be able to depend on my right if I lost my left.”
Belcher has already resumed cardiovascular conditioning and told MMAJunkie that he could return to contact training in six months in the absolute best case scenario. As far as a return to the sport goes, Belcher is in a holding pattern and any decision made will hinge on the progress of his recovery.
“Since the second surgery, they’ve really given no timetable,” Belcher said. “I’ve gotta get out of the woods. The doctor hasn’t given me any expectations on when I’ll be back or anything.”
Belcher is 16-6 as a pro and owns notable wins over Jorge Santiago, Denis Kang, Wilson Gouveia and Patrick Cote. He said that, should he find himself able to make a return to MMA, he would like to maintain his current trajectory (he is currently on a two-fight win streak with consecutive wins over Gouveia and Cote) and take on a top-tier middleweight.