On September 8, UFC featherweight fighter and Oklahoma City police officer Matt Grice suffered traumatic brain injuries in an automobile accident. Grice was nearly killed when the other car rear-ended his car at around 65 MPH, but doctors performed emergency brain surgery to remove part of his skull and put Grice into a medically induced coma.
Almost three months after the accident, Grice is making incredible progress. The 32-year-old fighter appeared on The MMA Hour Monday to talk about the ordeal and the uphill battle he has fought since emerging from his coma – and that first day, he admits, was easily the most difficult.
“I woke up, and I didn’t remember being married and didn’t remember having kids,” said the father of two. “It really shook me up. So they brought someone in and explained everything and showed me pictures. Now I remember almost everything, it just threw me for a loop and I just started bawling right then and there.”
But since waking from the coma, Grice has made unbelievable progress. He bears scars from the accident – a large scar sits atop his head, and he is still missing the piece of skull that was removed the day of the crash – but Grice has been able to return home to his family, only coming to the hospital for outpatient physical therapy.
“I was in the hospital almost [a] month and a half two months,” he explained. “I do my outpatient rehab, so I do my rehab during the day, and then at night now I can come home to my family. It’s awesome. It was amazing, I’m a homebody anyway so it felt really good to see my kids and my wife and everything.”
Considering how incredible Grice’s recovery and progress have been, he admitted that he didn’t understand how critical his injuries were until a nurse expressed admiration for Grice’s recovery.
“One of the nurses in rehab,” Grice recounted, “she was looking at my chart, she said, ‘You’re just a walking miracle, reading your chart and talking to you, I can’t even explain how much of a miracle you are to be where you’re at.’ I’m just blessed by God to be moving like I am.”
Of course, there is still much progress to be made. Grice is scheduled for a December 13 surgery to reattach the piece of his skull that was removed in September.
“The brain surgeon had to act immediately,” Grice said of his first brain surgery. “He said the quicker he got in, the better. They had to take this part of my skull out, they’re supposed to put the rest of my skull back in in December. I’m looking forward to that, I’m hoping that when my skull gets back in I should improve some. Keep getting better until 100 percent.”
And 100 percent for Grice, incredible as it sounds, means a return to his old job.
“Police department has been awesome, they’re holding a position for me,” he explained about the Oklahoma City department he worked for leading up to the accident. “It just depends what kind of work I was going, whether I go to patrol, because I was a patrol officer, or whether I can do some kind of inside work, we’ll have to wait ‘til the skull gets put back in and the doctors tell what I’ll be allowed to do.”
That could include a return to his other job, fighting for the UFC. It’s a long shot at best, but Grice said his doctors have not entirely ruled it out.
“I talked to one of the doctors and it depends on putting the skull back in and how it all does,” Grice said. “Like I said, I’m only two months into this deal and it’s surprising how along I am already, so they’re not ruling anything out. I’m hoping yeah, I’d love to fight again. That’s what I do, I enjoy what I do, it’s fun and I just love competing, I hope I can do it again.”
Grice’s last fight was an incredible 3-round war against Dennis Bermudez at UFC 157. Grice would lose by split decision, altering his professional record, but the effort would earn him Fight of the Night honors.
You can follow Matt Grice’s progress at the Grice Strong Facebook Page which is maintained by Matt’s wife, Caroline.
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