Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Travis Lutter is currently rehabbing a long-present neck injury, the recovery of which will likely determine whether or not he will ever compete in mixed martial arts again.
Speaking with Sherdog.com, Lutter explained the injury–which dates back to a Jiu-jitsu match–and discussed how surgery will spell the end of his MMA career.
“That’s probably the scariest thing that I’ve got going on. The nerve passages control everything in your body. If they get too squished, you could have atrophy and motor function loss,” Lutter told Sherdog. “The other thing is those passageways, since they’re narrower, they don’t have to have as much inflammation to cause pain and atrophy and things like that. That’s the thing that makes me the most nervous.”
Having undergone several MRIs, Lutter realizes the seriousness of the injury and is doing his best to rehab his neck in lieu of going under the knife; indicating that he will know in a matter of months whether or not he can continue fighting, based on how his neck heals.
“I took time off from training and jiu-jitsu to try to let it heal,” he said. “That’s what they advised me to do after I got an MRI, but I’m not back to sparring or anything yet. I’m just waiting to see how my neck is gonna be. I’m gonna give it a few more months and then make a decision after that.”
Pushing forty, Lutter told Sherdog that it wouldn’t make sense for him to get surgery solely to prolong a career that is winding down and that, if that becomes the only option, he will hang up his gloves.
“If I had to do surgery, I’d probably be done,” he said. “You know, I’m 37. If I had surgery, you a have a recuperation time and all that other stuff. I’d probably be done with MMA at that point — I don’t see an upside.”
However, Lutter hasn’t given up yet. Having challenged for the UFC Middleweight Championship (against Anderson Silva, no less) and held his own against some of the best fighters in the game, Lutter believes he is still able to compete at the top level of the sport–if only his neck will allow it.
“It’d be fun to make another run … I’m still there,” said Lutter. “It’s just a matter of getting the neck back into the position where I can go through training camp and still be relatively healthy. I think when I’m healthy, I’m tough to beat.”
Lutter last appeared in action in May of this year against Rafael Natal at Moosin: God of Martial Arts, where he was defeated via first round TKO. He has only fought once a year since 2007 and has gone 1-3, defeating Jason MacDonald and losing to Natal, Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva.