Almost one year ago, UFC Heavyweight fighter, Jake O’Brien, was on top of the MMA world. He had just defeated veteran Heath Herring in Herring’s UFC debut at Ultimate Fight Night 8 on Spike TV. Most, if not all, believed Herring would make quick work of the Indianapolis native but O’Brien’s wrestling skills proved to be too much for the former Pride FC star. While the victory would never make anyone’s highlight reel it was, in fact, a victory.
Then came rumors that the 10-0 O’Brien would fight Brandon Vera next. UFC officials believed that Vera – once a fighter billed as the future of the UFC’s Heavyweight division – was going to leave the company after he fulfilled the last fight on his contract. They believed O’Brien could further cement his status as one of the rising stars of the division by defeating him but, for whatever reason, that fight fell through. Instead, O’Brien was set to face Tom Murphy at UFC 72.
However, that fight never materialized either. A week before the bout in Ireland, O’Brien suffered a painful nerve injury known as “stingers” that originates in the spine. While the former wrestler had experienced this kind injury earlier in his career the pain was now unbearable. In July, he was forced to undergo possible career-ending surgery when doctors inserted a titanium rod in his neck and cadaver discs in his spine.
Miraculously, five months later the 22-year-old is back to training full-time and hoping to return in February or March 2008.
For more on this incredible story check out my interview with O’Brien. We discuss the origins of his injury, his road to recovery and his plans for the future.
Jake O’Brien – 12/24/07