Cris Lencioni is finally out of the ICU but now his life will never be the same after he suffered some long-term damage.
The 28-year-old featherweight fighter for Bellator suffered a cardiac arrest early last month while training for a now-canceled fight at Bellator 298. He will now need expensive further care after a subsequent MRI revealed he also suffered brain damage, his wife told MMA Fighting.
The fighter is under heavy sedation and in a “state of disordered consciousness” after the trauma. Despite his condition, he was able to take his hand out of a bag of ice on Tuesday and has even reportedly attempted to stand on his own.
“Ten percent of people survive this, and the fact that he is moving, and trying to get up and like doing what he’s been doing … he drank water today for the first time,” she told MMA Fighting. “It’s blowing [the nurses’] minds, and it’s blowing my mind.”
He is said to have had no drugs in his system and appeared to be a healthy young man before he collapsed, according to his wife. She added that paramedics reached him in five to six minutes, using a defibrillator at least twice before taking him to the hospital.
Doctors believe the cardiac arrest may have been caused by Long QT syndrome, a potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder.
“The bottom two chambers [of his heart] weren’t pumping correctly, and his [heart rhythm] was really high,” she said.
As Lenconi gets ready for the next phase of his life, his wife is asking fans and members of the MMA community for assistance. Doctors want to transfer him to a long-term care facility in Idaho, but he doesn’t have insurance. A GoFundMe has begun.
Lencioni’s recovery will be a unique battle.
“The brain is complex, and because of where he’s at, they don’t know and they can’t say,” she said. “Even the neurologist, she’s like, ‘I can’t give you a definite answer, because it’s gonna be up to him.’ If anybody can come out of something like this, it’s him. He’s a fighter in all senses — it’s not just in the ring.”
Lencioni, who is 11-3 MMA, 6-2 BMMA, was on a four-fight winning streak, including two victories in his return to Bellator. He took a split decision from Cody Law last December, then submitted Blake Smith this past April at Bellator 294.
Barring a miraculous recovery, it appears his career is over.