Bellator fighter Cris Lencioni responding to stimuli after suffering cardiac arrest during training session

Cris Lencioni

Bellator MMA fighter Cris Lencioni is beginning to respond to stimuli after suffering cardiac arrest during a training session earlier this month.

Lencioni, 28, was in the process of training for an upcoming contest with James Gallagher at Bellator 298 on August 11. Lencioni was engaging in a jiu-jitsu exercise when he reportedly collapsed. EMTs arrived within minutes and had to use a defibrillator twice before transporting him to a local hospital. His wife, Marca Lencioni, revealed that he suffered brain damage as a result of the heart attack but was released from the ICU on Friday while in a state of disordered consciousness.

A video clip released by MMA Fighting, which can be seen below, shows Cris Lencioni responding to a variety of stimuli alongside his wife. The footage is both encouraging and heartbreaking as ‘Sunshine’ continues to fight his way back.

“The neurologists were basically like, ‘We have to wait to see what he can do and what he shows us,’” Marca Lencioni said. “Because he was so, so healthy when this happened and is young and an athlete, they’re not really sure what’s gonna happen.

“The brain is complex, and because of where he’s at, they don’t know, and they can’t say. 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.”

Doctors believe Cris Lencioni’s cardiac arrest could have been the result of Long QT syndrome, a potentially fatal heart disorder that went undetected during a routine EKG ‘Sunshine’ underwent in 2019. “The bottom two chambers [of his heart] weren’t pumping correctly, and his [heart rhythm] was really high,” she said. Despite the typically bleak outlook for individuals with this specific disorder, doctors have been blown away by the progress he has made in a relatively short period of time.

“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 said. “It’s blowing [the nurses’] minds, and it’s blowing my mind.”

Medical Bills for Cris Lencioni’s Treatment Have Already Added Up to $300,000

Now out of the ICU, doctors hope to transfer Cris Lencioni to a long-term care facility as he begins his long road to recovery. Unfortunately, the American healthcare system is not kind to those who are uninsured like Lencioni, which has led his wife to reach out to the MMA community for help. So far, a GoFundMe campaign has raised an impressive $29,000, but after a mere three weeks of care, Lencioni’s bills have already reached a staggering $300,000.

“I’m hoping that he’ll be able to get state insurance that will help cover some of the bills here,” she said. “I’m ready to sell my house if I have to, to get him treatment in another country.”

Cris Lencioni is a highly touted MMA prospect, amassing an impressive 11-3 record with back-to-back wins under the Bellator banner. In December, ‘Sunshine’ scored the biggest win of his career, upsetting Cody Law at Bellator 289. He followed that up with a second-round submission against Blake Smith four months later. Marca Lencioni has praised the promotion for their support during these trying times.

And as unlikely as it may seem right now, she believes he could potentially recover and return to mixed martial arts someday.

“If anybody can come out of something like this, it would be him,” she said. “So I’m not gonna put limitations on what it is possible for him to do or not to do because he’s been proving the doctors wrong every single day since this has happened.”