Watching the footage, it’s unnerving at first to see Jonathan King’s reaction to his leg being shattered.
There’s certainly no confusion about when or how it happened. About 20 seconds into his amateur bout against Chris Williams at an American Kombat Alliance (AKA) show in Bossier City, La., this last Saturday, King had a sharp leg kick checked and he immediately limped back as he tried to plant his foot back down, stumbling out of the view of the camera.
(WARNING: Clip contains explicit footage of leg injury)
In the next shot, King is seen on his back, his face surprisingly calm as his leg is raised in the air showing a clear and ugly break. Thankfully, officials reacted quickly and King’s injury was attended to in the cage shortly before he was taken to the hospital.
King, who trains under the tutelage of UFC fighter Kurt Holobaugh at Gracie United in Amite, La., told MMA Fighting that if he looked calm in the moment, it was more so because of confusion and adrenaline than anything.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” King said. “I was just in disbelief that my leg was broken, I was like, ‘Wow!’ Because I’d just came off another injury where in one of my fights I dislocated my elbow, I had to come back from that. That was pretty long, so when I seen it I just couldn’t believe that it actually happened to me again.”
The prior injury that King is referring to is a dislocated elbow that he suffered in the second round of a fight back in March. He came out for the third, only to succumb to an arm submission and later end up on the shelf for seven months. He fought again in September, dropping a split decision, and was determined to turn things around against Williams.
Competing against a larger opponent (King describes himself as a natural welterweight who has so far only competed at 185 and 205 pounds), the plan was for King to stick and move and sure enough, the first kick he landed was solid. Then disaster struck.
“I was real calm, I was real relaxed,” King said. “I had a game plan, I was just going to go in and be calm, see if I could pick him apart, open him up with some jabs, some leg kicks. I knew he was going to be a lot bigger and stronger than me, so I had a game plan together, and I came out and threw one kick and it landed pretty good.
“I just knew I was going to land that next one pretty good, I was probably going to drop him with it, so I was planted and I threw it and I tried to put it back down and I couldn’t feel anything.”
It was later during the ambulance ride that King felt the pain, physically and emotionally, fearing that his career could be over. At the hospital, it was determined that he had broken his fibula and tibia. Clean breaks, though frightening all the same.
The good news is that King’s fighting career does not appear to be in jeopardy.
“They put a rod down my tibia and they put two screws in it and it was an open wound break, so that means it punctured through the skin and also punctured through the muscle, but the doctors were pretty up to it,” King said. “The first thing I asked them was, ‘Would I be able to fight?’ And he told me yes, so I don’t plan on letting this stop me from fighting.”
Anytime there’s a leg injury like King’s in MMA, one can’t help but think about the most famous example: Anderson Silva crumbling after having a kick checked by Chris Weidman in their rematch at UFC 168 five years ago.
Coincidentally, King is a huge fan of Silva’s and he is drawing inspiration from how “The Spider” was able to overcome his injury, while also receiving support from people on social media who have been in a similar situation.
“Actually, Anderson Silva is my favorite fighter, so of course I watched him break his leg and I’d seen he was able to come back from that so I thought about it afterwards after I got out of surgery,” King said. “They had a couple of other guys that I didn’t know that were hitting me up on social media that went through the same injury and they boosted my confidence a little bit. They said they came back and were strong, stronger than before, so I plan on doing the same thing.”
King said he expects there to be a six-to-nine month recovery period before he can resume training.