Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman couldn’t believe the feeling the day after undergoing a similar disk replacement surgery in 2019 to the one newly acquired Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel plans to have Friday.
“I woke up and the weakness and pain and everything I had going into the surgery was gone,” he said Monday.
Weidman is one of several athletes who have undergone the relatively new procedure that Eichel considered leading up to deciding on that course of action to alleviate the pain and discomfort in his neck.
Eichel decided he wanted to go that route as opposed to the spinal fusion surgery often recommended for his type of injury. The decision was one of the key points of contention that ultimately resulted in the relationship between Eichel and the Sabres deteriorating to the point he was eventually placed on the trade block.
The Golden Knights were willing partners and will allow Eichel to undergo the procedure at the end of the week with a target debut on the ice at least three months away.
Weidman offered an optimistic assessment of the rehabilitation process.
“There’s like three days you can’t swallow that great because they cut through the front of your throat,” he said. “But as soon as that goes away, literally you feel like you’re 100 percent. Very, very easy recovery. I felt like I could do everything at like eight weeks as far as like full (mixed martial arts) workouts. I think I waited a little longer just to err on the side of caution, but it felt like a light arthroscopic knee surgery. It was very simple.”
Weidman returned to the cage to compete at the highest level of his sport, something he wanted to make sure would be possible before he opted for the procedure.
He made sure to consult other athletes who had gone through the surgery in addition to doctors and surgeons for their more expert opinions.
Eichel has done the same thing. When the hockey star called, Weidman passed on his first-hand experiences as well as what he had heard from other athletes.
“He hit me up a few times over the last couple months,” Weidman said. “I feel like if you’re an athlete, you want to talk to other athletes who have been through similar things to ask them the questions as opposed to just the surgeons and doctors.
”I was happy to help out, especially because I had help when I was going through it from other athletes.”
More than two years later, Weidman hasn’t experienced any setbacks or problems with the surgery.
“And I get choked and punched and wrestle every day in practice,” he said. “It’s a little crazier than hockey.”