David Chao, MD: Gruesome UFC Injury But Outlook Good

Chris Weidman broke his leg as he kicked his opponent in UFC 261. He suffered a clear tibia and fibula fracture creating a new “hinged joint” between his knee and ankle. Don’t watch the video if you’re faint of heart and certainly don’t watch what happens at the end when Weidman tries to stand on the leg.

This is a cruel twist of fate, as eight years ago, Anderson Silva did the exact same thing as he kicked Weidman’s leg. 

Despite the gruesome look of the injury, the end result will likely be positive. Even with this amount of abnormal angulation, there should not be any nerve or artery/vein issues. Vessels and neural tissue are, thankfully, very flexible. It did not appear to be an open fracture where the bone penetrates the skin from inside out, so the risk of infection is low. The biggest concern is compartment syndrome where internal bleeding builds up too much pressure and can cause tissue death.

Weidman will have surgery to place a rod down the tibia (bigger bone), while the fibula will heal on its own. Thankfully, the recovery is reliable, as there is high healing rate in 6-9 months.

Even though Silva was at the tail end of his career with his ordeal, he did return to normal and fight again. Weidman can do the same. 

Despite the horrific stomach-turning video, the good news is that there will be no amputation, and Weidman can expect to return to full activity.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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