Nine months ago, Brandon’s Curtis (The Demon) DeMarce was close to losing his right arm after having it broken in five places in a serious car accident that brought his professional mixed martials art career to a screeching halt.
Doctors thought he would never fight again and some believed he wouldn’t even regain full use of his arm.
But after undergoing eight hours of surgery and months of dedicated rehabilitation, the 24-year-old fighter is on the road to recovery and hoping to get back in the game next spring.
"A lot of people doubted that, especially at the beginning, but with my mentality, that’s my goal," said DeMarce, who has been splitting his rehab between Brandon and Toronto, where the accident occurred. "I have been involved with martial arts my whole life and I am still young and if I really wanted I could take another year or two off and let it fully rehab … but I’m eager to come back and if I come back 100 per cent and I feel ready and comfortable, I’m going to give it a go."
DeMarce was in Toronto in March training for a fight slated for Trail, B.C., when the car he was a passenger in was nailed by a driver who made an illegal turn. With his right arm completely shattered, DeMarce spent eight days in hospital wondering if his arm — and his life — would ever be the same.
"They were actually debating (amputation), it was very severe," said DeMarce, who underwent complicated surgery to repair the fractures with multiple screws and two plates that remain in his arm today. "Basically they told me the only thing holding my arm together was the skin. If the bone had punched through the skin in the back of my triceps ... I would have lost my arm."
The driver who crashed into DeMarce will go to court to face charges next month, with DeMarce also filing a lawsuit that has yet to be settled. Much of that depends on how well he recovers and if he is ever healthy enough to resume his pro fighting career. At the time of the accident DeMarce’s career was on the rise. He had a 12-10 record while fighting in some of the bigger Canadian MMA events and even getting a look-see from the UFC when he was accepted to try out for "The Ultimate Fighter" in Las Vegas. The accident ended all that.
"For sure, I don’t think you realize what you’ve got until it’s gone," he said. "I worked my whole life to get to where I was and I was climbing the rankings and I was fighting some of the top guys in the world. And when I got into the accident, I really realized how lucky I was to be able to achieve that goal. … Now I really appreciate it more and I am hungrier to get back, I’m determined. Especially being able to watch and appreciate the sport more and not being able to compete, it’s been driving me crazy ... I just pray and hope that I heal as well as I can and get back at it."
As he continues to rehab in Brandon, DeMarce is helping coach local MMA classes and hopes to head to Albuquerque, N.M., in January to train at the camp run by Greg Jackson, who has worked with the likes of UFC champion Georges St-Pierre of Montreal.
If or when he does return to fighting, DeMarce plans to move down in weight class from lightweight (155 pounds) to featherweight (145).
"I’m going to drop down a weight class, just because I feel too small for 155 now," he said. "Guys are too big and carrying too much weight, so I am going to go down to that weight class and I’ve got a few (fights) in mind that would put me in the top five or six in Canada and then from there I will just try to take over (the division). … It’s just a matter of building the strength and getting that flexibility back and from there I can start training hard. … It’s been a rough year and I am just eager to get back and get into it again."