10 MMA Stars Who Fought Back From Life-Threatening Illnesses

Joe Ellenberger

Jake Ellenberger signed for the UFC in 2009, and if fate had worked out differently his twin brother Joe would have joined around the same time too after he captured the promotions attention following a 10-0 start to his career.

However, Joe Ellenberger was then hit by the bombshell news that he was suffering from a rare blood disorder called Paroxsymal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, which destroys red blood cells at a fast rate.

At just 24-year-old, Ellenberger was told he likely wouldn’t live past 30-years-old and his MMA career appeared to be over.

However, Ellenberger wasn’t willing to accept that diagnosis and after being prescribed what was at one time the most expensive medication in the world at $440,000 per year, he went through a lengthy process to prove he was fit enough to fight.

Two years after being diagnosed he returned to fighting, and after a 4-1 run he was finally able to make it to the UFC, Five years after initially being offered a place there.

Ellenberger made the best of it with a split decision victory over James Moontasri in his promotional debut, but lost his next fight against Bryan Barberena.

That would prove to be the final fight of his 15-2 career, but 10 years after his initial diagnosis, the now 34-year-old Ellenberger continues to live a good life as a husband, father and coach.

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