Keenan Cornelius was recently forced to withdraw from a match against Haisam Rida at the most recent Who’s Number One event due to a previously undisclosed injury. Now, he’s been able to reveal the issue that kept him from stepping onto mats against Rida and led to him unfortunately withdrawing on short-notice. On the most recent edition of the Matburn podcast, Keenan Cornelius sat down with co-host Josh Hinger and revealed that the injury was actually related to a much older back issue that stemmed from deadlifting:
“May 2020, I was deadlifting and I was getting, kind of, I was feeling strong. I had been deadlifting for a few years, and I tried to set a new PR, which is just dumb… It was just an ego thing, and I felt like I was getting stronger and stronger.
I lifted too much weight. I repped to, like, 400 (lbs) or something for ten reps, and I was like ‘wow, I’m doing this so easy, I’m so strong.'”
“So I walked away and then my back just started feeling a little weird… I was just walking it off and about 15 minutes later, I couldn’t move. I was on the gym couch just unable to move.
Holy sh*st I really injured myself… For like three weeks I was bed ridden. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t sit. I thought I had really damaged my body.”
He then explained what happened specifically in the lead-up to the match with Haisam Rida and why he was replaced by the very first man he awarded a black belt to, Miha Perhavec:
“During the training camp for the match against Haisam, I was ramping up, I was still being careful. It wasn’t another acute injury. I was making sure that I could push 100% without injuring myself. I had been holding back in the training a little bit…”
“The last two weeks before the camp ended, I really was pushing hard, like I hadn’t pushed in over a year, and I was really feeling good and ready to go, and then bam! I just walked off the mat and it was the same feeling. It started to seize up again, and I just can’t risk this, I can’t be out again. I have to protect this, I have to just take it easy, I have plenty of years left.”
In the end, Rida made incredibly short work of Perhavec and registered one of the fastest submissions in WNO history when he locked up a beautiful armbar to force the tap. This, combined with Rida’s previously victory over another Legion Jiu-Jitsu competitor in Sloan Clymer sets up some great backstory for the eventual match between him and Cornelius that WNO will hopefully try to rebook in the near future.