Bellator fighter Cris Lencioni out of ICU, sustains brain injury after cardiac arrest

The 28-year-old collapsed while training for a now-canceled fight at Bellator 298, will need expensive further care

UNCASVILLE, CT - DECEMBER 08: Cris Lencioni makes weight ahead of Bellator 289 on December 9, 2022, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, United States. (Photo by Matt Davies/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cris Lencioni is awake and out of the ICU. (Photo by Matt Davies/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bellator featherweight Cris Lencioni is awake and out of the intensive care unit. The road to recovery continues as the 28-year-old's prognosis is uncertain.

Lencioni collapsed and experienced cardiac arrest June 8 while training in Spokane for a now-canceled fight at Bellator 298, his wife, Marca, said via Instagram. A subsequent MRI revealed he also suffered brain damage, she told MMA Fighting on Tuesday.

The fighter, nicknamed "Sunshine," is under heavy sedation and in a “state of disordered consciousness” after the trauma. Despite it all, he was able to take his hand out of a bag of ice on Tuesday and has even reportedly attempted to stand on his own.

“Ten percent of people survive this, and the fact that he is moving, and trying to get up and like doing what he’s been doing ... he drank water today for the first time,” she told MMA Fighting. “It’s blowing [the nurses’] minds, and it’s blowing my mind.”

He even smiled in response to kisses from Marca, as seen in a moving video she shared:

Lencioni had no drugs in his system and appeared healthy before his collapse, according to his wife. She was told by his training partners that paramedics reached him in five to six minutes, using a defibrillator at least twice before taking him to the hospital.

Doctors believe the cardiac arrest may have been caused by Long QT syndrome, a potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder that was allegedly missed during a routine EKG in 2019.

“The bottom two chambers [of his heart] weren’t pumping correctly, and his [heart rhythm] was really high,” she said.

As Lencioni embarks on the next step of his recovery, his wife is asking fans and members of the MMA community for assistance. Doctors want to transfer him to a long-term care facility in Idaho, but he doesn't have insurance. A GoFundMe on his behalf has so far raised almost $29,000 of its $250,000 goal.

Once in Idaho, Lencioni's recovery will be a unique battle.

“The brain is complex, and because of where he’s at, they don’t know and they can’t say," she said. "Even the neurologist, she’s like, ‘I can’t give you a definite answer, because it’s gonna be up to him.’ If anybody can come out of something like this, it’s him. He’s a fighter in all senses — it’s not just in the ring.”

In the ring, he holds an 11-3 overall record and has won four straight fights.