UFC veteran Gray Maynard said seeing Spencer Fisher with dementia was the “turning point” for him to warn fighters of the dangers in MMA.
Fisher recently shared his story about the true costs of competing in combat sports in an in-depth interview with MMAFighting.com. A long-time UFC veteran, the 44-year-old Fisher came out and shared with MMA fans that he has dementia. During part of the story, there was an anecdote with Fisher and Maynard, who had met him at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. According to Maynard, seeing Fisher in the poor condition he was in marked the turning point for “The Bully” to come out and warn other fighters about low pay the very real dangers of long-term brain trauma.
Speaking to “The Bo & Glo MMA Show,” Maynard explained how seeing Fisher during that chance encounter broke his heart and made him realize he needed to speak up.
“He told me he had the beginning stages of dementia, and I remember just, like, getting hit hard. Because that really doesn’t get better. I mean, I had an uncle die of dementia. So I remember giving him a hug and like, ‘Hey, man, anything you need, I’m here for ya.’ And then just going in my car, and I started my car and was about to drive away, and I just started crying. Just put it in park and I was just crying, like, ‘Holy sh*t.’ He’s got kids. There’s just a ton of emotions that are going through you because you know what he’s dealing with. It was hard. Just kind of seeing him, you know, want to get his life going and want to keep going, but it’s hard. It’s hard with dementia. It’s a gnarly disease, man,” Maynard said, noting that “Spencer was the kind of turning point” for him to start speaking out against the dangers of MMA.
Maynard said that fighters such as himself and Fisher who have come out and spoken out against the dangers of this sport aren’t trying to make the story about them. Ultimately, they just want to warn young fighters who might not realize the dangers just what the realities are of having long MMA careers just like he and Fisher did.
“(Fisher said) like, ‘Dude, I don’t care not being known and I don’t want to be in the spotlight. And I could relate to him. I’m like, ‘Dude, I hear ya. I’m with ya. But it’s not about us. It’s about all these other guys and girls. You have to get this story out and you have to tell them what’s going on in this sport and what’s going on in this world.’ It definitely was hard on him. We’ve talked a couple of times, but I really feel like he went through with it because of that. Because he definitely didn’t want to get his story out. That’s not the point of why he did it. ‘Oh, I want people to know what I’m going through.’ No. I want people to know what I’m going through because other people are going to go through this. And it’s going to happen a lot. It’s already happened. He’s just the person that got the story out. There’s a lot of scared people out there, man,” Gray Maynard said.
Do you think more veteran fighters like Gray Maynard should warn up-and-coming MMA fighters about the dangers in MMA?