10 MMA Stars Who Fought Back From Life-Threatening Illnesses

Tim Williams

In 2008 ‘The South Jersey Strangler’ Tim Williams was eagerly awaiting his professional debut against another up-and-coming fighter by the name of Chris Weidman when his career almost came to an abrupt end before it had even started.

A routine pre-fight scan showed that the 21-year-old Williams had a brain aneurysm and so the fight was cancelled and instead he found himself undergoing immediate brain surgery.

Williams was a tough kid – after all, he’d already survived a 100mph car crash when he was 18 that left a shard of glass pressed against his carotid artery – but he made a big mistake trying to return to physical activity too soon after the brain surgery and that would lead to a second surgery six months later when it was discovered the aneurysm had become larger.

Thankfully this time he took the time to heal properly afterwards and was given the all-clear to continue training.

However, fighting commissions were vary wary about giving him permission to compete, so Williams opted to fight in states that were less stringent about medical testing until he put together a 5-0 run, and then he had less issues.

Things have never been easy for Williams though and such was the case with his journey to the UFC, having stints on both TUF 17 and TUF 19, before finally securing a place in the promotion in 2018, by which time he’d amassed a 15-3 record since his initial brain aneurysm diagnosis.

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