Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans in Indiana were left stunned when 21-year-old fighter Isaiah Abels suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest during his fight.
Abels was fighting Saevon Canto in Evansville when he unexpectedly collapsed in the ring.
The young athlete went into a sudden cardiac arrest shortly after landing a second-round takedown.
After initial confusion, doctors rushed into the cage to give Abels immediate medical attention.
They were able to restart Abels’ heart in the ring before rushing the fighter to the hospital.
An hour later he was stabilized in the hospital but has reportedly remained in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to MyMMANews.
Family and friends have revealed that Abels has suffered brain damage as a result of the cardiac arrest.
Abels’ brother Zach posted on Facebook about the incident, saying: “Last night Isaiah Abels engaged in battle.
“It went two rounds. First round went to him with beautiful striking.
“The fight transitioned into the second round.
“Isaiah continued to pick his shots and maintained his pace and distance.
“Unexpectedly he was countered with a lead hook.
“He responded with a takedown and continued to pressure his opponent against the fence to recover from the hook.
“Isaiah then disengaged from the clinch and went to press forward.
“As he continued to pressure his opponent something ominous happened.
“Isaiah took a step forward and collapsed to his knees.
“He was going into respiratory arrest.
“Soon after the fight was stopped.
“The ref had no idea what really happened thinking it was a typical stoppage.
“Clearly it wasn’t. Isaiah wasn’t getting up because he was also going into cardiac arrest.
“Once the doctors and medics accessed the situation.
“They got his heart going as they assisted his breathing. We rushed to the hospital.
“A hour or so later Isaiah was stabilized.
“I don’t know what you believe in, but the fear of God was put into all of us last night.
“Words can’t even describe,” Zach Abels said.
“I’m grateful for everyone praying and thinking about him, but I really wanna thank the medical professionals along with God.
“Again, I don’t know to what degree you believe in God, but please continue to keep Isaiah in your thoughts and prayers.
“Please, God. Please everyone. Please. I love you, Isaiah Lee.”
The Southern Indiana Combat Production, who staged the fight, subsequently canceled the rest of the night’s scheduled bouts
A statement from the venue said:
“We thank everyone for showing your support through this whole situation.
“First, we want to wish a speedy recovery to Isaiah Abels in hopes that he can regain all strength and abilities as quick as possible.
“To him and his family, we will be keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers.
“Next, we want to thank the cage side doctors and first responders who worked briskly to provide care to Isaiah.
“You are greatly appreciated.
“To our fans, we thank you for attending the event last night, in person or by ppv.
“Please hold all ticket stubs and receipts, and stay tuned for more information.
“We want to thank all who were in attendance last night for the overwhelming support shown to our fighters and your understanding and patience in the matter.
“Please continue to keep Isaiah and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
A fundraising campaign was created to help with medical finances.
The GoFundMe page has been posting the following updates on Abels’ condition:
March 9, 2023, by Terri Himelick, Organizer
- New update from his dad 44mins ago. Isaiah had a second CAT scan and MRI done today- the doctor said the MRI didn’t look good- Isaiah has brain damage-due to lack of oxygen to the brain for 3-5 mins. Best case he has a week to respond to commands like -open your eyes and squeeze my hand. If he cant do this by next Tuesday they will transport him via ambulance ride back to fort wayne. After that his best case would be weeks to months or rehab, worse case he will have lifelong issues. I will be bumping up the goal to help get him back home. Please keep praying
March 10 by Terri Himelick, Organizer
- Just spoke with Elijah (his twin) and they will be putting a trach in to prepare him for travel. His dad is making a lot of calls to make sure they have a place that will take him and a way to get him back home to Fort Wayne. Please continue to share this page so we can take some of the financial burden off this family and also spread the word for people to pray for him and his family.
March 10 by Terri Himelick, Organizer
- His dad just posted that they will be transfering him to a long term care facility. This will place many doctors and therapists around him to help him on his recovery journey. He still has lots of work to do but he will be able to do it with all his family at his side as they will be together. This will be a blessing as we are all “better together”!!! Thanks for joining the fight
March 11 by Terri Himelick, Organizer
- Isaiah had a trach put in his throat yesterday for breathing – they put a feeding tube in his stomach – he is not tied down – sometimes he opens his eyes – he is off the propofol and fentanyl – now he is on pain medication – the nurses and staff are great – they let us sleep in the room at night – afraid to leave here – still looking for a long term care facility that is good – closest one is probably one hour away in Muncie – Isaiah needs to be weaned off the ventilator and off the drugs – wake up – then rehab. Please continue to pray that insurance gives the ok to get him transferred to muncie. It isnt his home town but it is the best care that is closest to fort wayne to give him the best chance!! Also pray for peace for the family as they are in the waiting game and world of unknowns!