By: Shaun Al-Shatti
It would be the understatement of the century to say that Jared Gordon has dealt with some tough circumstances in his life. But the UFC lightweight could never have predicted the fate that would befall him in the lead-up to his recent fight against Carlos Diego Ferreira.
On Dec. 22, 2017, three days before Gordon signed his UFC Austin contract to meet Ferreira, the New York native suffered a grisly hand injury while defending his friend Jeffrey Gallardo in an impromptu street fight outside of the barbershop of another friend, Alex Shaulov. Gordon first revealed the story Monday to ESPN — and it’s a wild one.
According to Gordon, everything first started when the 29-year-old prospect picked up a bite to eat and a coffee with Gallardo to kill time before his haircut appointment.
“As we’re walking back, my friend recognizes this kid that he used to teach jiu-jitsu to,” Gordon told MMA Fighting. “He looked like he was in his early twenties, like 23 or 24, something like that. So we start walking back towards the barbershop and they’re talking, I’m just drinking my coffee, minding my business. I’d never met the kid in my life. And those two kids came out of nowhere, I guess they must’ve had some problems with him, and they attacked him. But I was just standing there watching.
“When my friend jumped in and the kid kinda pushed my friend and was posturing like he was going to hit him, that’s when I decided to take matters into my whole own hands.”
Gordon said the man who initiated the fight not only swung first, but also spit in the face of Gallardo’s friend as he walked by. As the video above shows, Gordon was initially content to sit back and assess the situation, but as soon as one of the assailants squared up on Gallardo, that’s when things went off the rails.
And off the rails they certainly did go.
“Of course we hit into the f*cking storefront window and it comes crashing down on me and cuts my hand wide open, my fingers,” Gordon said.
“Luck of the draw for me, as always. I got 21 stitches.”
The two aggressors ultimately fled the scene — having been badly bloodied by the two trained martial artists — and police quickly dismissed the melee as self-defense for Gordon and Gallardo after watching the security camera footage from Shaulov’s barbershop. But that was only the beginning of Gordon’s troubles.
“Ten days later, I get the stitches out,” Gordon said. “I’m training and I go to take this kid down, he sprawls and I hold onto his leg, and my middle finger just pops wide back open. Like, really dead. It felt and looked worse than the original injury. So I get stitched up by a plastic surgeon. A week later, I’m in Grand Central Station, it’s soaking wet out, the whole subway station is wet and I’m walking up the escalator and my feet just come out from under me, and I like flew down the escalator. Smacked my hand on the floor, I start bleeding. I clean it up, it looks alright, the stitches didn’t come out.
“So, I wake up the next morning and my finger is just completely infected. I go back to the same plastic surgeon, he has to take the stitches out, drain it, and then pack it with gauze. So now I have like an open wound on my hand, this gaping hole on my finger, and my finger is really the size of a sausage. It was ridiculous. That took about four weeks for it to close, and then that was like already a week before my next fight, so it just had closed up, like scabbed over by the time a week before the fight. And actually when I was at the fights in Austin, the doctor was like, ‘Oh, what happened to your hand?’ When they were doing the pre-fight medicals. Like, ‘Oh, that’s just an old injury,’ I just kinda brushed it off.”
Between the initial injury and the subsequent infection, Gordon’s hand issues ultimately prevented him from doing any full-contact training for his fight against Ferreira, which he lost via first-round TKO. Gordon never used his hand as an excuse — hell, five months passed before he even publicly talked about it. Nonetheless, with some prodding, he admits he was limited going into the fight, and his hand is still very much showing the effects. Gordon said his mom nicknamed his new misshapen appendage “The Squiggly.”
“I couldn’t do anything [for UFC Austin]. I ran, I shadowboxed, I hit the bag with my right hand and I kicked the bag. That’s all I could do,” Gordon said. “And technique, like just drilling technique really light because hand was just completely f*cked up. And I also, so I cut the ligament in my finger, so I have what they call a boutonniere deformity. I can actually have surgery if I wanted to, but I don’t feel like doing that.”
The good news is that Gordon said Shaulov’s insurance took care of the shattered window, so both men were able to avoid paying for repairs on that front.
As for the man in the middle of the entire scene — Gallardo’s friend in the blue shirt who Gordon had never seen before and hasn’t seen since — if you take a close look at the security camera footage, you’ll notice that he never even entered the fray at all. In fact, he did quite the opposite.
“He stepped back and then my friend throws the kid on the floor, and the kid’s phone who my friend was fighting falls out of his pocket, and the kid that we were sticking up for actually picks up the kid’s phone and runs away with it!” Gordon said. “So it was like, if anything, the kid completely benefited and I got f*cked. And I’ve never even met the kid, never saw these kids in my life. The only guy I knew was my friend Jeff.”
Gordon’s hand is now fully healed from incident, although his boutonniere deformity serves as a constant reminder of one of the silliest ways he’s hurt himself to date. He is hoping to get a fight booked soon and remains an intriguing prospect in the UFC’s talent-rich lightweight division.
His biggest regret now is the one overlooked casualty of the entire incident.
“It’s funny too because after the fight I was like, ‘Goddamnit, I dropped my coffee,’” Gordon said, laughing. “That’s what I really pissed about. I got that cup of coffee and I’m addicted to coffee, so I was really pissed off, and that’s what everybody’s saying when they’re commenting on the video, ‘Oh, you lost your coffee. Should’ve put the coffee down first.’ It’s pretty funny.”