It should come as no surprise that injuries are common in one’s profession as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Lacerations, concussions, ligament tears, you name it, many competitors can attest to these battle scars, which have shortened careers, with some even being life-threatening health scares.
2019 would mark a life-altering moment for Chris Blevins. While preparing for his 13th pro fight at United Combat League against Terry “Da Brick” House Jr., he would come victim to a heart attack. The injury would sadly lead to his untimely retirement from MMA while also combating hardships. His road to recovery was a strenuous mission. However, coming out of these trials emerged a new figure with a new lease on life, a life defined by taking nothing for granted.
Blevins reveals all of his road to recovery and attainment in this exclusive interview with MYMMANEWS.
Being a combat sports competitor, there is a mentality of always being up for facing challenges. What does being a combat sports competitor mean to you?
Chris Blevins: What being a combat sports practitioner means to me is someone who respects the sport and loves competition. With respect to Mixed Martial Arts, you have to have a love/hate relationship with pain as well, whether it’s emotional pain from a potential loss or physical pain from an injury sustained in practice or competition. There isn’t much avoiding either scenario unless you are super talented or never fight tough opponents.
You’ve had many challenges throughout your MMA career. One, in particular, occurred not too long ago, with you sustaining a heart attack. What do you remember about that day, and what were the complications which led to the fatal injury?
Chris Blevins: The end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 has been the most challenging year for my family and me than any other year before it. I was deep into fight camp in September 2019 with three weeks left before a big fight with Terry “Da Brick” House for his “retirement” fight. I was in the best shape I’ve been in leading up to it, and on the drive home from training, I started to have chest pain. Fast forward, and I found out that I had a 95% blockage in my LAD “The Widow Maker” from a blood clot. My wife was pregnant during this time, and we were looking forward to our little girl being born in April. She had a healthy pregnancy throughout with no complications leading up to birth. We went to her routine check-up at 41 weeks to see if she would be induced, and the doctor could not find a heartbeat. Having to retire early from MMA was tough, but losing our little girl has been the single most devastating event in my life. The Lord has abundantly blessed us since then and has never been closer to us in our time of need!! On top of all that, COVID-19 has been a thing that everyone has been dealing with, but it has definitely been a blessing to be able to stay home with my family during all of this and receive God’s healing.
How difficult was the road to recovery?
Chris Blevins: The road to recovery was very interesting. I thought I would be able to get back to exercising quite quickly due to the tough cardio training I would do every day. The medication that my Cardiologist had me on really slowed me down, and it was meant to help my heart recover from such a traumatic heart event. I started to get depressed but soon realized that this gave me a great opportunity to start coaching more, and that seemed to help with being depressed or just feeling out of the sport altogether.
What was the driving force which motivated you to get better?
Chris Blevins: I really love the feeling of competition and knew that if I could get back to training, I could at least compete in Jiujitsu tournaments. I also want to live a healthy life for my kids and my wife to enjoy me at a much older age. All that motivated me to continue pushing my limits in the gym and on the mats. Even if my limits were so much lower than they had previously been. That was really the most challenging mental aspect of it all. Knowing I could go more if I weren’t on all of this heavy medication designed to slow my heart down and make it rest didn’t help while exercising at a high level.
How does your outlook on life differ today as oppose to before the heart attack incident?
Chris Blevins: My outlook on life differs a lot compared to what it was before my heart attack. I’ve had a strong relationship with Jesus, but through this suffering, I have realized how fragile life is and how everything is not just a coincidence. I truly understand that I’m blessed, and I don’t take anything for granted any longer. Every day that I’m alive is a blessing from God, and I make it my goal to not pass on opportunities. I’ve made more time in my weekly family schedule, and I seek that quality time with them more often.
Please share with us some of the things you have done since recovering.
Chris Blevins: I’ve really changed up my entire routine since recovery from my heart attack. I coach more and spend less time training myself. I also have signed my two kids up for Jiujitsu and love watching them train during the week! I used to train 2-3 times a day, and most of those sessions were working on and perfecting my cardio. I made it a goal of mine to never get tired in a fight, and I successfully accomplished that. I still train every day except on Sunday. I coach a Kickboxing class called Killer Bee Kickboxing every Monday and Wednesday at a great 24hr gym named Ironsmith’s Gym in Crawfordsville, IN. I still train Jiujitsu 3 times a week, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at a great gym called Performex Martial Arts and Fitness in Brownsburg, IN. I also do personal training at another great gym named Amped Fitness in Crawfordsville, IN. So, I’m still pretty busy.
Now healthy, are there any other goals you wish to accomplish?
Chris Blevins: I’ve accomplished a ton in MMA and Jiujitsu already, so I’m actually pretty content with where I’m at. My goals for the foreseeable future is to just stay healthy and to compete in Jiujitsu as many times as my body will allow me to. I still love competition, and I plan on doing it until I’m an old man. My other goals are to maximize my time with my family and really enjoy them in the moment.