Mixed martial arts fighter Devin Johnson suffered major spinal cord injuries that left him paralyzed following a practice two weeks ago at a popular gym owned by his coach Urijah Faber, said Johnson's manager Dave Hirschbein.
Johnson, 22, was scheduled to make his professional debut in his hometown of Yuba City on Sept. 8 after posting a 3-1 amateur record. That match has since been canceled as family and friends organize fundraisers for what doctors say will be a lengthy hospital stay.
"He is awake and talking over a ventilator," said Johnson's girlfriend, Tayler Miller, 18. "Doctors said he has a 3 percent chance of walking again, but he's already been making so much progress."
Johnson fractured and dislocated his C4 vertebra during a sparring practice at Ultimate Fitness in midtown Sacramento, Hirschbein said.
"He shot in for a double leg takedown," Hirschbein said. "There was a scramble and in the middle of that scramble, they both landed on Devin's neck."
Johnson was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center, where he remains in the intensive care unit with limited visitors because of the risk of infections.
"Devin is a fighter," Hirschbein said. "He has the mental toughness to fight through this. He will make it back."
Prior to the accident, Hirschbein said Johnson told him his goal was to be the 170-pound world welterweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
"He still has that goal," Miller said.
There are multiple fundraisers organized to support Johnson, whose mother, Jacqui, along with Miller, has held a constant vigil since the accident.
For information on how to donate, visit http://www.devinsmiracle.com/.
Hirschbein, who operates www.mmagold.com, said he is giving 100 percent of apparel sales from the website to the Johnson family through June 9.
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