‘Pebble in the shoe’

Health complications result in referee stoppage in Hernandez fight

Submitted Photo Pictured is Dunkirk native Ivan Hernandez (left) and Eric Palmer staring each other down during the weigh-ins the day before their fight last Saturday at WFC 76.

Last Saturday (Aug. 5), Ivan Hernandez fought at WFC 76 in Pittsburgh. Previously, the Dunkirk native won his first professional fight via first-round knockout and was looking to repeat that performance.

However, his second fight against Eric Palmer was very different, and quite frankly, it was much more alarming.

Hernandez is a Type-I Diabetic, and had displayed in his recent victory that he can succeed when in control of his health. Sadly, that control was nowhere to be found last weekend.

According to Hernandez’s trainer, Dave Harriger of Elevation Combat Sports Academy (ECSA), Hernandez felt great up until about 20 minutes before his fight in Pittsburgh.

At about that time, Harriger recalled Hernandez saying, “I feel like my sugar is really high right now.” Harriger asked him what he wanted to do. Hernandez then expressed that he could not take any insulin because he did not know how high his sugar actually was.

Hernandez had forgotten his blood-glucose monitor back home in Dunkirk.

Harriger recalled Hernandez saying that he felt fine and that, “This kind of thing happens all the time.”

When he entered the ring, he was anything but.

“During the fight, everything kind of seemed slow motion when (Ivan) was fighting,” Harriger said. “Kyle (Yellich) and I were looking at him, and we were looking at each other saying, ‘What’s going on? Is he just feeling the dude out,’ and it wasn’t. His reaction time was so slow and delayed. (Ivan) didn’t realize it until he was getting hit. … During the fight (Ivan) said, ‘I can’t react … I see absolutely everything that’s coming. (Palmer’s) telegraphing everything; I just can’t move or react.'”

Hernandez fought valiantly and gave everything he had. Halfway through the fourth and final round, the referee clearly noticed something was wrong with Hernandez.

“The ref didn’t want to see him take anymore damage than he had to,” Harriger said. “… He’s seen Ivan fight before. He knew something was up.”

The match ended via referee stoppage, and soon after, it was discovered that Hernandez was hyperglycemic, and his blood-glucose level had shot up to 547.

A quick Google search will show that someone with a blood-glucose level of over 300 means that person is in “danger,” and the recommended action would be to “call your doctor immediately.” Hernandez chose to fight.

“He was a couple of points away from going into a coma,” Harriger exclaimed.

According to WebMD, the symptoms of hyperglycemia include, but are not limited to: Increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breathe, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, a very dry mouth and rapid heartbeat.

“That was not the guy that I’ve been training,” Harriger recalled. “Everything (Ivan’s) been doing (in training) was so fast and so crisp … (the fight) was just in slow motion.”

Any or possibly all of those symptoms may have affected Hernandez during the fight. Despite that, Hernandez fought every round until the finally fight was stopped. Harriger commended Hernandez for his effort.

“I give Ivan a ton of credit for staying in there. … The dude’s a warrior, he’s tough as nails,” Harriger told the OBSERVER.

Hernandez will now be suspended from fighting for two months because of the referee stoppage. Hernandez and his team appear to be taking it in stride, and Harriger now views last weekend as an important learning experience for Team Hernandez.

‘I told Ivan, ‘We’re on a professional level and every little detail counts, the minor little tweaks are what’s going make the difference.’ (The suspension) will give us time to do a healthy weight cut and monitor (Ivan’s) body. This was a learning experience.”

Harriger added that, “This could be the best thing that happened to him. (Ivan) has a team behind him now. … He trusts that we can get him where he needs to be.”

For Hernandez, the experience in Pittsburgh is something to be reflected on. What happened was unfortunate, and Diabetes is something that Hernandez has fought for his entire life. Even with those odds stacked against him, he still became a professional fighter.

Muhammad Ali famously said that, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that will wear you down. It’s the pebble in your shoe.” That quote referred to perseverance and the ability to fight gravity and get back up no matter how low or how hard someone has fallen. Over the next two months, that will be the name of the game for Hernandez — bounce back and persevere.