Coach explains choice to let Paige VanZant fight with broken arm

Paige VanZant

Last weekend, in the co-main event of the UFC’s debut in St. Louis, MO, Paige VanZant came up short in her flyweight debut, giving up a decision to Jessica-Rose Clark. While VanZant lost, however, she showed remarkable toughness, surviving three rounds despite sustaining broken arm mid-fight.

Speaking to MMAFighting.com, VanZant’s coach Fabiano Scherner explained why he let her continue fighting through this injury, even when she told him about it between rounds.

“I was asking her to stay away from the clinch and keep the distance to use her boxing and kickboxing, and she said, ‘My arm is broken,’” Scherner recounted. “She wasn’t feeling any pain, so I thought it could be a fissure, that sometimes hurts as much as a fracture. She said she fractured it in the first round, but she didn’t remember that the spinning back fist [that broke it] was in the second round.”

“Everything that happened in the second round led me to believe that it wasn’t a serious injury because the way she continued fighting, you couldn’t notice it. I went back to the corner and asked the other coaches if they thought it was really broken, and they couldn’t give me a concrete answer. I kept telling her to hit with the right hand, and when I saw that she wasn’t throwing punches, I knew it was more serious than I thought.”

Scherner continued:

“I let the fight play out because at any moment she… She wasn’t using her right hand, but I was looking at her face and she didn’t appear to be in pain or anything like that, so I thought it was serious but that she could continue,” he said. “I didn’t think about throwing in the towel. We spoke about it after the fight and I saw the X-ray, I apologized to her for making that call, and she said, ‘It was the right call because I wanted to go back and continue fighting. I would be disappointed if you had stopped the fight.’ I think it was the right call because she really wanted to go back.

”I didn’t ask her if she wanted to continue or not because she would lose confidence in the fight,” he added. “I want to make clear that it was my decision to let the fight continue, and I would take all the responsibility if something worse had happened. But what matters to me is her opinion about it, and she was happy with my decision. She thought it was the right thing, and that’s what matters to me.”

Do you think Paige VanZant should have been allowed to continue fighting after admitting her arm was broken?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/16/2018.