MMA fighter Cris Lencioni suffered a heart attack that has left him in the intensive care unit, Breitbart reported. The 28-year-old's family described Lencioni as being in "peak physical condition" prior to his June 8 heart attack.
As a rising star in the sport, Lencioni was quickly making a name for himself in the Bellator MMA world. However, his family now says he's in the "fight of his life" following the medical crisis.
"On Thursday 6/8 there was an incident while Cris was training, and he experienced a cardiac arrest. The athletes at the gym were great and immediately called 911 and did their best to address his needs until paramedics arrived," she explained.
"Prayers are always welcome - if your kiddos want to make a card or anything like that, bring it to the gym and we will make sure Cris gets it," the post continued later. "We are currently in uncharted territory and taking everything day by day. Thank you for the continued support during this time," Marca concluded.
The fighter's mother-in-law set up a GoFundMe on his behalf and wrote about Lencioni's positive attributes. "As you can imagine this was completely unexpected, considering he is only 28 and in peak physical condition," the statement pointed out.
"Cris is currently in the ICU in his biggest fight yet. We believe in the goodness of God, and we don’t know anyone with more will, strength, and determination than Cris," the statement added.
"Cris has already overcome so much in his life, and we have faith in his ability to overcome any obstacle," she said of the featherweight fighter. "Cris has made a significant impact on those in his life and community."
"He is quite a character, quick to tease and make jokes, has the most infectious laugh, and is always so full of light and life. Cris is a natural entertainer; his MMA persona makes him so fun to watch," his family said.
"He loves working with children and has often made sure kids were able to participate in tournaments and train BJJ in his gym regardless of their ability to pay. He has always talked about the importance of mentoring kids and being there to support kids who are struggling with hard things," his family stated.
"His gym and kids’ program is his passion project," the statement concluded. Former MMA fighter Chael Sonnen also spoke of a gentle person with a sweet nature.
"Sunshine got his nickname because he’s always in a bright and cheerful mood," Sonnen tweeted. "This is a young man who prepared his whole life for a fight and it appears he just found one," the fellow Oregonian continued.
"Please consider helping the family in this time of need. It will be considered a personal favor," Sonnen said as he shared the link to the family's GoFundMe.
So far, no reason has been given about why such a young man suffered a heart attack. Lencioni has a good chance of pulling through given his age and relative good health, and athletes like him often draw on their strengths to assist in recovery.