A Doctor Just Explained Conor McGregor’s ‘Dead Leg’ at UFC 257

MMA fighter and former UFC world champion Conor McGregor lost his rematch to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 last night. The event, which took place at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, ended with Poirier beating McGregor via a knockout—but as McGregor himself said in a post-fight interview, he had been worn down prior to that by a series of rapid calf kicks from Poirier which left him unsteady and unstable, with his legs feeling “dead.”

“I’m gutted, it’s a tough one to swallow,” said McGregor. “I felt stronger than him, but his leg kicks were good. I didn’t adjust. My leg was badly compromised, I’ve never experienced those low calf kicks, and I wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be… I have no excuses. It was a phenomenal performance by Dustin. I have to dust it off and come back. I need activity, you don’t get away with being inactive in this business.”

As physical rehab doctor and sports injury expert Brian Sutterer MD explains, the pain McGregor would have felt with each kick would have had a cumulative effect.

“A kick in this area is specifically targeting the common fibular nerve, or common peroneal nerve, and it’s a nerve that supplies muscle control to part of the lower leg, and also some of the sensation,” he says, adding that this nerve is superficial, i.e. close to the skin, and therefore more susceptible to injury.

“This is where these UFC fighters are trying to strike, to have these effective calf kicks,” he adds. “It’s going to cause limited function of the muscles, because that nerve is going to be stunned… So you hit that nerve really close to the skin enough right here, and it’s going to cause some of the nerves to shut off, it’s going to cause some temporary damage to them, basically ending with this dead-feeling lower leg.”

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