Bellator MMA vet Cris Lencioni takes first steps after suffering heart attack: ‘It’s sheer will and determination’

Cris Lencioni

Bellator veteran Cris Lencioni took his first steps with the aid of physical therapists less than a month after going into cardiac arrest during a training session.

Lencioni, 28, was gearing up for his highly anticipated return to the cage on August 11 when he suddenly collapsed while running jiu-jitsu drills. Teammates immediately called EMTs who arrived within minutes and successfully transported Lencioni to the hospital for treatment.

“The athletes at the gym were great and immediately called 911 and did their best to address his needs until paramedics arrived,” his wife, Marca Lencioni wrote on Instagram. “We are currently in another state. He has been under the care of excellent doctors with I and much of his family by his side.

Since then, Lencioni has been fighting his way back, showing signs of improved cognitive function, including laughing at jokes and attempting to communicate despite a tracheostomy that requires a valve to speak. MMA Fighting released a video clip on Twitter showing Lencioni taking steps with the aid of physical therapists less than a month after his health scare.

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“He’s making progress really fast,” she said. “It’s sheer will and determination.”

Cris Lencioni Will No Longer Need to Be Transferred to a Long-Term Care Facility

Following Cris Lencioni’s heart attack on June 8, doctors found brain damage due to the lack of oxygen, leading them to believe that a return to normalcy may be out of the question. Initially, doctors wanted to transfer him to a long-term facility in Idaho, but after seeing his progress over the last few weeks, they now plan to install an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to insure against any future heart issues, Lencioni’s wife said.

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“He’s still got a while until he’s ready to leave, and we are still looking into alternative treatment options,” she said. “They dropped the [long-term acute care hospital] center after seeing how quickly he was progressing. But it was the same with the defibrillator. At one point they weren’t going to do that for him, because they weren’t sure of where he was cognitively. But he’s young, and he’s doing really well now, so the tune has changed.”

Doctors believe Cris Lencioni may suffer from Long QT Syndrome, a potentially fatal heart rhythm disorder, that was not flagged during a routine EKG.

GoFundMe set up for Cris Lencioni has raised more than $60,000 to help aid with the mounting medical bills, which his wife said are already in excess of $300,000.