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Not too long ago, UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith was seriously considering moving forward with his fighting career with one less finger on his left hand.
According to the former title challenger, he was ready to amputate his left index finger following a victory against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Stockholm on June 1. Due to a build up of scar tissue, he was unable to close his left hand following that contest.
"We were going to amputate my pointer finger, because all the scar tissue was grabbing onto the ligament and not allowing it to close and slide back and forth," Smith told ESPN. "So the idea was if we amputated the finger and screwed those ligaments to that bone after it healed, then I could use the other three fingers and my thumb to grapple. And there would still technically be a knuckle there so I can still punch.”
While Smith had made peace with the possibility of losing a finger, those around him — including family and UFC officials — wanted him to look into other options. Eventually, he was able to work with a physical therapist to treat the scar tissue in his hand and restore some level of movement. The therapist used electricity to tear through the scar tissue, allowing Smith to close his hand.
"Once we tore through all the scar tissue that first time, then we just did that every single day until I was able to get the movement back in it, and now it's good," he said. "I've probably been able to close it for probably two months.
"It's as good as it's going to get. My strength and ability to use it is 100 percent, but my hands are messes anyway. I have lots of scar tissue, lots of arthritis. It's sore in the morning and the cold weather in Nebraska doesn't help at all. Once it gets moving, it loosens up and feels all right.”
Smith, who has won four of his five bouts since moving to 205 pounds, will return to the Octagon against Glover Teixeira in the UFC Lincoln headliner on April 25. He’ll do so with all 10 fingers intact.
"I was ready to say, 'Screw it all, I'm sick of all this rehab stuff.' I was ready to get back to fighting, and cutting my finger off at that time was the fastest way," he said.