There was a lot of excitement in the UK ahead of Alex Enlund’s UFC debut, which was scheduled for September of last year in Hamburg.
Riding a seven-fight win streak into his promotional debut, Enlund’s capture of the Cage Warriors featherweight title a year earlier cemented him as one of the best that Europe had to offer in his category.
Two days before he was due to set off for the German city where he was scheduled to face Martin Buschkamp, the South Shields man received a phone call from his manager that ruled him out of the bout based on a lesion that was found during his pre-fight brain scan.
After spending 10 years to reach the world’s flagship promotion, Enlund was suitably distressed.
“I was heartbroken, but the first thing that crossed my mind was, ‘Am I okay?’” he remembered.
“At the time I didn’t know anything other than the fight couldn’t go ahead and that I had to consult a neurologist and a neurosurgeon as soon as possible.”
The discovery of the lesion set of a series of scans for Enlund. Although his UFC career was put on hold, more pressingly, the lesion could have indicated that he had developed a tumor. However, the lesion could also be completely incidental, something that would have no implications on his fight career whatsoever.
“The issue was that the lesion was on my brain stem, which is a very rare place to suffer any kind of trauma,” Enlund explained. “Normally trauma of the brain stem would be life threatening, so the doctors were trying to discover if it was a low-grade glioma.
“That would have been the worst case scenario. On the opposite end of the scale, it could have just been some low-grade inflammation that was just there for whatever reason.”
A neurologist explained that the SBG man would have to wait five months before undergoing another scan, and comparing the first scan to the second, it could be determined whether the lesion was a tumor. However, after sitting out for five months only to discover that the lesion had not changed in any way – a very good sign for Enlund – it was recommended that he wait another five months to obtain results from a third scan, just to be on the safe side.
“I went from one five-month period of waiting to another five-month period of waiting. Eventually, I got the scan back and it had the same result,” he said.
“I had gone to see the neurologist. He looked at my scans and did a few tests and he came to the conclusion that this was something completely incidental. It could have been there my whole life and it probably was.
“It’s one of these things that comes up on a scan but it doesn’t particularly mean anything. It’s just a different kind of tissue that’s there. If I did have something wrong with my brain there is no doubt that I would be showing some kind of neurological symptom.”