Neil Melanson is the head jiu-jitsu trainer at Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas, specializing in catch wrestling, guard, leg locks and triangle chokes. He’s trained some of the best fighters in the world, including Randy Couture, Gray Maynard, and Vitor Belfort. As you could imagine, things get pretty physical during training.
Two summers ago Melanson had one of his toes snapped out of place during training. It’s the same toe that he broke during his first ever competition, so it had been problematic for quite some time. When the toe made it too painful for him to walk, he sought medical attention.
A doctor told Melanson they could try to put a screw in the crooked toe to straighten it out, but that would have meant a year out of the gym. Melanson wasn’t down with that, so he opted to have the toe chopped off instead. To him, it’s no real loss.
“It’s really not a big deal to me,” Melanson told Brett Okamoto. “It’s just a toe. I guess when you love the sport and you’re committed to it, you don’t let little things like toes get in the way.”
After learning this story, it’s no surprise to hear that Melanson is a former U.S. Military and Federal Air Marshal. He also is no stranger to being without all his parts — he lost sight in one of his eyes due to Behcets disease.
We’ve seen some pretty nasty injuries suffered during fights, including guys getting nasty golf ball eyes and fighters having their ears torn off. I guess sacrificing body parts is just part of the MMA culture.
Here’s another picture of the foot without the bandage, this one from Melanson’s website where he says he’s getting the stitches out soon (warning, it’s somewhat graphic):