UFC Champ Alexander Volkanovski Details COVID-19 Battle: I Was Coughing Blood

Rio de Janeiro, May 11, 2019, Brazil: Fighter Alexander Volkanovski during UFC press conference, Rio de Janeiro.


UFC champion Alexander Volkanovski was originally scheduled to defend his featherweight championship against Brian Ortega at UFC 260 last month, but he was forced out of the bout due to COVID-19 protocols.

In a recent interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Volkanovski opened up about his diagnosis and the impact it had on his health.

According to Volkanovski, he began coughing up “more and more blood” before being diagnosed with pneumonia and having his oxygen levels fluctuate.

“I went for the whole nine yards. It rocked me. I was in bed for days, sleeping in ’til 12 o’clock in the day and just doing nothing, not eating all day. It got pretty nasty, coughing up blood, struggling to breathe,” he said.

Volkanovski started with minor symptoms before things became more severe.

“The fevers started to maybe go away, but the lungs started hurting more and more. So I felt like some of the symptoms started going away,” Volkanovski said. “The COVID symptoms. But my lungs started getting worse. My oximeter… I’m usually at 99, 100. My lungs are good. Really good, usually.

“And we’re starting to see it start to decline, my oxygen levels. They started getting fluctuating under 93. At the time, it would still go up. I didn’t want to panic too much, I didn’t want to go back to the hospital. A couple of days this was happening. My cough, I started spitting up more blood and phlegm. And I had my team saying, ‘Look, we need to go back (to the hospital).’ And I was being stubborn and being a fighter, and I’m like, ‘Let’s just see how it goes.’ My oxygen levels were still coming up and down, fluctuating. They’re sometimes coming back up.

“I think on the Tuesday, I went for the first check-up, and then on the Friday, this was a week later, I wake up and that’s when I started coughing up even more blood. So the blood just got worse and worse.”

Luckily, Volkanovski was able to beat the disease and is working back to 100 percent as he continues to look forward to the Ortega bout in the coming months.

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