10 MMA Stars Who Fought Back From Life-Threatening Illnesses

Justin Wren

Justin Wren is a unique character in the world of Mixed Martial Arts as not only a fighter, but he’s also devoted a lot of time to humanitarian work, and is well known for having helped Pygmy slaves in the Congo forests to get clean water through his ‘Fight For The Forgotten’ initiative.

Prior to that Wren had built a 7-1 record in MMA to claim a spot on The Ultimate Fighter Season 10, but after a loss in his debut led to his release, followed by three wins on the regional circuit, he injured his back in 2010 and underwent surgery, then took a long leave of absence from the sport.

In 2013 he started ‘Fight For The Forgotten’ and spent a year living in the Congo helping to build 12 wells for the Pygmies, but only three weeks into his stay he contracted malaria.

From initial body aches, Wren then went on to suffer from a severe fever, sickness and dehydration and meanwhile doctor’s continued to misdiagnose his condition.

Only when he was flown out to Uganda did Wren learn that his malaria had devolved into Blackwater Fever, a life-threatening condition that had left him with 65-70% of his blood contained parasites, with doctor’s estimating that he had between a 25-50% chance of dying.

However, Wren would not only survive through his illness, but would continue to press forward with his humanatarian work, while also returning to MMA in 2015 by signing for Bellator, racking up a further three wins in the promotion, taking his career record to 13-2.

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