What are back spasms, and how did they affect UFC fighter Jamall Emmers?

Jamall Emmers
Jamall Emmers

Another dramatic turn to UFC Fight Night 185 occurred when the featherweight fight between Jamall Emmers and Chas Skelly was canceled mid-event. Emmers failed to make the walk to the UFC octagon due to back spasms.

Chas Skelly (18-3-1 MMA, 7-3-1 UFC) was scheduled to fight Jamall Emmers (17-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) on the prelims of UFC Fight Night 185. Both fighters successfully made weight and the bout was official. Skelly entered the octagon and while he was waiting for his opponent to walk out, the broadcast team announced the bout cancelation and said that Emell was getting attention from the medical team backstage who were treating his back spasms.

This is the third consecutive bout cancelation for Chas Skelly, who has not competed in the UFC since his unanimous decision win over Jordan Griffin in September 2019. Skelly expressed his frustration after the cancellation but did not blame Jamall Emmers for the cancelation.

“I feel like I should get my win bonus, Because I weighed in, I made weight, I stepped in the cage. That’s how I feel. I hope Jamall’s OK. No animosity. It sucks. I have a lot of people who came out here to watch me fight. I have a ton of people who came... This was an emotional camp for me because I had a major surgery and I came back and I worked so hard.”

As reported by ESPN reporter Marc Raimondi, Jamall Emmers was allowed to return to his hotel as the hospital visit was not required.

What are back spasms?

Back spasms are a severely painful tightening or contraction of muscles near the roots of nerves that lead in and out of the spinal cord. Contraction of muscles puts immense pressure on nerve roots, which causes the severe pain felt by the sufferer.

Back spasms are a common ailment among those who engage in strenuous and intense physical activities like weight lifting or active sports. Severe dehydration and low potassium levels coupled with intense physical activity increase the chances of suffering from back spasms.

UFC fighters cut a significant amount of weight to weigh in at the divisional limit. The process involves the exclusion of salts and carbohydrates from the diet and a reduced water intake. Hot baths and long hours in the sauna aid the weight cut by expelling water from the body, which is probably the primary reason behind Jamall Emmers suffering from back spasms.

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Edited by James McGlade