Neil Melanson has helped some of MMA's best learn the art of grappling. From now on, he'll have to do that training with one less toe. Melanson, the head grappling instructor at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, was given the choice of getting his toe removed or staying off the mats for a year. He said goodbye to the toe.
During years of competing in catch wrestling and coaching such fighters as Randy Couture, Gray Maynard and Forrest Griffin, Melanson had broken the toe several times. It finally wouldn't heal straight, and doctors told him that the toe needed surgery.
"The only thing they could try, is put screws in it to straighten it out, but that would be up to a year of downtime," he said. "The doctor thought I was a little nuts because he was like, 'Well, don't you want to keep that thing?' I just said, 'I can't take a year off.'
"He didn't cut through any bone. They cut into the foot at the lowest joint possible and then sow all the webbing between the toes. So, it looks like a Ninja Turtle foot or something."
Melanson isn't the first to lose a body part to sports. NFL Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott had his pinkie cut off after it was crushed in a playoff win for the 49ers. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm in a shark attack, but is still competing.