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Milstead details knee injury, rehab process, and 205 debut

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UFC 222’s Adam Milstead spoke with Bloody Elbow ahead of his bout Jordan Johnson to discuss the recovery process for his knee, his drop to light heavyweight, and weighs in on Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic.

New to the UFC’s light heavyweight division, Adam Milstead returns to action at this Saturday night’s UFC 222 following a gruesome knee injury in a heavyweight clash with Curtis Blaydes last February. That bout was ultimately overturned to a No Contest due to Blaydes failing a drug test for marijuana. Milstead will be taking on the undefeated 8-0 Jordan Johnson in his 205 pound debut, and will look to test out said knee while putting on a show for the Vegas crowd.

Before heading back into battle, Milstead spoke with Bloody Elbow about the details of his knee injury, the rehab process, his reasons for dropping down a weight class, and offered his thoughts on Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier.

Saturday’s UFC 222 main card will air live on Pay-Per-View at 10:00 P.M. ET with the prelims starting at 8:00 P.M. EST on FS1. The Exclusive Fight Pass prelims will begin at 6:30 P.M. ET.

  • Your knee gave out on you during the 1st round of your UFC Fight Night 104 match with Curtis Blaydes, and you were able to gut it out until it completely went in round two. What exactly happened to the knee?

“It was an ACL tear, meniscus tear, and a severely sprained MCL, which the MCL was halfway torn. That came about probably the very first slam. When he picked me up in the first round and he slammed me and my knee gave, I felt it as soon as I hit the ground. The knee kept going and right then and there I knew it was really difficult to get back to my feet. Yeah, it sucks, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?”

  • What made you answer the bell in round two?

“It’s my dream; it’s what I want to do. I understand the risk and everything that’s involved. I understand at any moment I could get hurt, but from dealing with this injury prior in 2013, I had an injury sort of like this, and I ended up coming out winning. I ended up tearing up my knee in the second round and eventually finished the guy late in the second. The injury is a lot better to deal with knowing the fact that you went out there and won, and it’s even a lot better to deal with knowing the fact that you got that injury from not giving up.”

  • Was this a reoccurring injury on the same knee?

“No, so now this is the other knee. This was my good knee. I’ve had ACL and meniscus surgeries on my left knee, and now I’ve got it on my right knee. I mean I’m not bragging about it, but I’m no stranger to the surgery room. You get a dream, and you want to do everything you can to make sure that dream, you can live it and make it a reality. Even though that maybe it might not be a reality, it’s nice to know that I gave absolutely everything that I got. If it doesn’t happen, I’m fine with it.”

  • You are a UFC fighter that also has a full-time job; how did this type of injury affect your work outside of the cage?

“It did kind of delay my work. Luckily, I work with a lot of good guys who realized that I was put in a really difficult situation, so they all kind of strung together to help me out. They helped me with some of my work duties. Obviously, I had to take some time off for the surgery, a little bit of time off after the fight. Luckily, I was able to run on what little money I did have from the UFC. That kind of paid the bills while I eventually got better and got back out on the pipeline, and started making money again.”

  • What was the recovery process like? It’s almost like having to learn to walk again?

“Exactly. That was actually one of the hardest things, just learning to walk normal again. Learning to walk and run without a limp, yeah it was difficult. It’s one of the most difficult surgeries I’ve been through. Most ACL surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, take anywhere from an hour, an hour and a half for a doctor to do it. I was on the operating table for four hours. They were doing everything they could to clean it up.”

  • Talking to the doc:

”I was good friends with the doctor, too. I said, ‘hey man, let’s do everything we can to make sure that this knee is ready to go 100%, but also, I’m looking for the longevity of it. If we can avoid taking the meniscus as much as possible, let’s do that. Let’s try to work around it. I have a lot of faith in my knee being able to heal in situations like that.’”

  • Living with the therapy:

“It took awhile for me to recover. At this particular moment, this knee injury is going to be with me forever, so I got to learn to deal with that. The recovery and rehab never stops at this particular point. In order for me to stay healthy and continue pushing my body to the limit, I got to stay on rehab; I got to stay on therapy. I just left the therapy office today. Right now I did cryotherapy, got a massage, laser and everything like that. So, I’m staying on top of it as much as I can and hopefully this won’t be a hindering fact later on in life.”

  • Now you’re heading to UFC 222 to face Jordan Johnson in the light heavyweight division. What was the reason for the drop down to the lighter division?

“In order for me to fight heavyweight, I had to eat close to 5, 6, sometimes 7 thousand calories a day just to maintain that weight. My body was very good at dropping weight but not very good at putting on weight. Originally, I fought heavyweight because I wanted to be faster, have better cardio, use my speed when I fought, but at this particular point in the UFC, these guys are that big plus they have speed and power. It’s just something that I believe my body is going to do a lot better at light heavyweight. I think it’ll be a lot more healthier, it won’t take as much force on the joints, won’t be as brutal on the body.”

  • What do you think the drop in weight will do to your fighting style?

“I have changed my fighting style. You’ll see a different fighter in there, somebody who’s going to be able to deal with the wrestling, but at the same time, I’ve worked with some really good boxing coaches and kickboxing coaches, so I’ve really honed my skills a lot better than when I fought last. Hopefully the cage rust doesn’t affect me too bad, but when i get back in there you’re going to see a whole new Adam “The Prototype” Milstead.”

  • What are you expecting from your opponent Jordan Johnson?

“He’s a wrestler. He’s going to try and take me down. Simple as that, even though you’ve seen him stand up and brawl with some guys, which is great. That’s the type of fights I like, but I understand at this particular moment in the UFC these guys are worried about wins, not putting on shows. I’m a little bit different. I believe that the reason I got into the UFC is because I put on a good show, but of course to continue doing that, you have to win in the process. As soon as I start standing with him, he’s going to see something a lot different from what he’s been studying. He’s not going to know what to do, he’s going to go back to his natural tendencies and he’s going to try and take me down.”

  • Your training partner and UFC heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic, is facing Daniel Cormier at UFC 226 in July. How do you see that going down?

“That’s going to be a rough night for Cormier. I like the guy. He’s a great wrestler, a great MMA guy, but when Daniel gets into these bad situations, he goes back to his wrestling. Well, the only unfortunate thing is that’s Stipe’s strongest point. A lot of people don’t realize. Stipe is a great boxer, I mean we’ve seen that. We’ve seen him knock guys out, but he’s even better at wrestling. Cormier is going to realize that he’s in for a rude awakening when they step in there. In the end, I hope both guys go out there and they put on a show, and make a lot of money doing it because they deserve it.”

Watch Adam Milstead debut at light heavyweight against Jordan Johnson at UFC 222 on March 3, 2018. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!


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