Bellator heavyweight, Tyrell Fortune (8-0 MMA, 8-0 Bellator) caught up with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okomoto on Wednesday, Feb. 19, to talk about his MMA career thus far and his college weight cut that turned fatal.
As the story goes, Fortune was just finishing up his junior college wrestling season and was preparing to compete internationally.
As he was trying to decide which weight he would compete at for the international season, Fortune, who was 230 pounds at the time, was right in between the heavyweights (265 lbs.) and the next weight class below (211 lbs.). Being 230 pounds, he decided to take the risk and drop to 211 pounds, so that he would have a size advantage instead of a size disadvantage.
According to Fortune, he started the cut the week before the tournament, giving himself six days to cut 27 lbs. In addition, he was eating three meals a day. Consisting of a bottle of water, a nature grain valley bar, and a cup of mandarin oranges.
In an attempt to make weight without exerting himself, Fortune took an epson salt bath to pull all of the water weight out of him, which ended up severely dehydrating his internal organs.
“I took an epson salt, alcohol – rubbing alcohol bath. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that through fighters. And that’s what really internally damaged me, pulling water from my organs,” said Fortune.
In order to fully understand the incident, Okomoto asked a few follow up questions regarding the epson salt bath.
Okomoto: “Who was with you when you did it?”
Fortune: “My girlfriend at the time and, uh, one of my best friends.”
Okomoto: “And where did you do it?”
Fortune: “I did it in the hotel.”Conversation between ESPN’s Brett Okomoto and Tyrell Fortune.
Fortune got out of the bath just one pound away from making weight. He was cutting his last pound when he collapsed to the floor and began to have a seizure.
As Fortune went to go take a sip of water from a drinking fountain, he fell to his back and started to seize and foam out of the mouth.
Fortune still recalls the moment he began to seize.
“The scariest part about that whole situation is I could physically hear and see everything, but I couldn’t control my body. And so like, as I fell back, I’m like trying to catch myself, but I can’t move,” said Fortune. “And I just start seeing white foam and I could see my arms and stuff shaking. And in my mind I’m just thinking, I’m dieing, like I’m (about) to die.”
Fortune was dieing due to organ failure as a result of dehydrating himself, causing his heart and liver to stop everytime he lost consciousness.
After being prounounced dead and coming back to life multiple times in the ambulance, he woke up in the hospital to find himself strapped to a bed with a sheet over his body, covering him from head to toe, and a clipboard on top of his head.
After begging the doctors to let him up and out of the restraints, he was given some crackers and water. Moments later, he had another seizure.
According to Fortune, the whole incident lasted about 7-8 hours.
Okomoto couldn’t wrap up the interview without asking, “What happens after you die? That’s like a big question. That’s like the human question right? What happens to us when we die? Like, you’ve been declared dead, like do you have any insight?”
Before answering the question, Fortune stated that he grew up in a religious family, but he is not religous. He believes in god, but doesn’t believe in church.
“When I died, there was nothing. There was no light, there was nothing but coldness and emptiness. There was nothing. No dream. It was like you shut down. I knew that I was dead. I could feel that when I woke up. My limbs and everything felt cold. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t like before. You know? It was very different. It was very dark in that sense.”
The experience left Fortune with a new aspect on life that he carries with him everyday now.
“And so, when I woke, that’s when I really had that really change my perspective. This is the only life you get as far as I’m concerned. You don’t get a second chance. So give everything you have. There’s – there’s nothing left after this. This is our one life or the one chance, (and) as far as im concerned, this is the only time I have to be Tyron Fortune. So I cant waste it.”
Fortune is three years into his MMA career and is still undefeated. He has a fight coming up this Sat, Feb. 21, against former UFC heavyweight, Timothy Johnson (12-6 MMA, 0-2 Bellator) at Bellator 239.