Nick Catone's wild night in NJ: UFC win, torn ACL, awful hospital care
FEB 05, 2014 1:42p ET
If Nick Catone was going to lose, it was because Tom Watson beat him.
Catone likely tore his ACL in the second round Saturday against Watson at UFC 169 in Newark, N.J., following a leg kick. When he put weight on his left leg, he could feel discomfort. He knew something was wrong.
But after losing to Chris Camozzi last year due to a cut and doctor stoppage, Catone didn’t plan on letting anyone other than Watson and him settle this fight.
“I didn’t want the doctor to see I was in any kind of pain in the third round,” Catone told FOX Sports. “It already happened once. I was gonna get my hand raised no matter what. I was gonna dig deep and make sure.”
“I could not believe they sent us there. It was like a third-world country.”
Catone did what he wanted to do. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but he grinded out a workman-like victory over Watson at Prudential Center. Some people questioned the split decision, but the New Jersey native doesn’t mind – he took home a win in his home state when he was likely looking at a release from the UFC. Coming in, Catone had lost two straight.
“You never know,” Catone said. “Any time you fight, it could be your last fight.”
His night was far from over after the bell sounded. Almost as soon as Catone got out of the Octagon the left knee started swelling to double its size. He was sent to University Hospital in Newark and was horrified by what he saw there. Catone said he wasn’t given any medication. Doctors said he likely had a torn ACL, yet they didn’t give him a splint or crutches.
Newark is a tough area and Catone said he was surrounded by stab victims and people with gunshot wounds. In fact, the two people who were stabbed in the stands at Prudential Center were in the hospital with him.
“I could not believe they sent us there,” Catone said. “It was like a third-world country.”
New Jersey State Athletic Control Board counsel Nick Lembo said his organization requires the UFC and all promoters hosting regulated combat sports events in the state to have licensed EMTs and a licensed ambulance on hand. Those EMTs and ambulances are affiliated with certain hospitals and, in this instance, they were contracted with University Hospital. Lembo said it isn’t within the scope of the NJSACB’s powers to dictate what hospitals fighters go to.
“We can suggest certain hospitals that the promoter can contract with, but ultimately the decision is left within their discretion,” Lembo said.
Luckily for Catone, he was close to home. He made the one-hour trek to his house in Brick, N.J., and went to the hospital there for proper treatment at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
Since his knee is still swollen, doctors can’t know for certain if his ACL is torn, but that’s the probable diagnosis. He’s just hoping it’s a partial tear, so he won’t be out for a year.
All in all, it was a wild night for the UFC veteran. But, to look at the bright side, he did get a win.
“It definitely slowed me up in the third,” Catone said of the injury. “My adrenaline was kicking. It wasn’t so much a lot of pain, but I could feel it. It wasn’t going to stop me, though.”