UFC lightweight Drakkar Klose has revealed the extent of the injuries he suffered as a result of Jeremy Stephens’ face-off push last April.
Klose, a member of the UFC roster since 2017, hasn’t entered the Octagon since a 2020 knockout loss to now-top-five contender Beneil Dariush. While his lengthy layoff has surpassed 24 months, the latter year of that period was due to factors out of his control.
The 34-year-old was expected to return after 13 months away from the cage at UFC Vegas 24, where he was matched with veteran Stephens. However, the day before their bout, “Lil Heathen” delivered a push that would not only force their fight off the card, but also leave his scheduled opponent with life-changing health problems.
Ahead of his long-awaited comeback this weekend at UFC Vegas 51, Klose looked back on the incident and his subsequent recovery. During an appearance on BJPenn.com’s Just Scrap Radio, the Michigan native revealed that he’s not yet returned to 100%, noting that surgery will likely be needed for that to become a possibility.
“That’s the last thing I want on weigh-in day is to be touched. All week he was being buddy, buddy, and then come weigh-in day his whole attitude changed,” said Klose. “I wish he would have kept the same energy all week because then I wouldn’t have gone in there with my guard down.
“I mean, the damage was done, I’m still not 100 percent from that. It’s something I will probably need surgery on eventually,” Klose added. “I told myself if I have to get surgery, I’m just going to call it quits. Just trying to manage it and do the therapy and all that.”
Klose was left with two herniated discs, an issue that was evident the day after the altercation. Putting into perspective just how damaging the surprise shove was, Klose admitted he even anticipated a potential retirement at one point.
“I did think that was going to be the end of me. I was having really bad headaches, dealing with my neck issue, it is something serious. When I saw my doctor he talked about fusing my neck and I didn’t want to hear that,” Klose continued. “I want to go out on my terms, I don’t want to go out with the doctor telling me I can’t do this.
“It was a herniated disc, C6, C7. As soon as it happened, my whole arm went numb, and later that night, things weren’t right and I woke up couldn’t open my eyes, a real bad headache. There is a lot of other stuff that I will probably say when I’m done fighting but they pay me, so I will keep my mouth shut.”
Klose: The UFC’s Response Was “Ridiculous”
While Klose was granted his show money for the canceled bout and returned home for a turbulent period of recovery and absence, Stephens, who was far from remorseful, was booked against Mateusz Gamrot three months later.
Discussing the promotion’s response to the incident, Klose, who has previously slammed Dana White’s remarks about the face-off, branded the UFC’s attitude towards the push as “ridiculous.” He suggested that the organization’s sole care lies within business and numbers.
“They ended up giving me my show money but they never said anything to me. To me, it’s kind of ridiculous, he really f*cked me up,” Klose said. “I remember driving home from that fight and I was crying, I don’t know why I was crying but my head was so messed up. It’s a business for them, they don’t care it’s all numbers for them, when I’m gone someone else will be in my spot.”
Klose will be looking to make up for lost time this weekend when he shares the Octagon with Brandon Jenkins on the UFC Vegas 51 preliminary card, set to go down inside Las Vegas’ Apex facility.
Do you agree with Drakkar Klose? Should the UFC have done more after Jeremy Stephens’ face-off push?