With an 11-1 career record, Bryan Baker looked destined for big things in Bellator as he prepared for their Season 3 middleweight tournament, but just two weeks before it began the 24-year-old received the devastating news that had chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Only 54% of patients suffering from CML surviving beyond five years, but Baker was prescribed a breakthrough cancer medication known as Geevec and then astonishingly decided to keep his condition a secret even from Bellator boss Bjorn Rebney and re-focused on the upcoming tournament.
it was a daring decision – especially when you consider that due to the debilatating nature of luekemia, together with getting used to his new medication, Baker was only able to jump rope for a total of five minutes just two days out from the fight.
However, Baker defied the odds by emerging with a first round TKO finish against Sean Loeffler and a month later submitted Eric Schambari swiftly to book his place in the season final opposite Alexander Shlemenko, though alas there would be no fairytale as he’d be TKO’d in the first round of the final.
Even then Baker kept his medical condition secret until two days before his next fight against Jeremy Horn, after going into remission just three weeks earlier. He’d go on to celebrate that news with a unanimous decision victory.
Baker would fight for a further three years in Bellator, notching up another four wins and three losses before calling time on his career in 2013 with an overall 18-5 record.