In October 2021, COVID-19 restrictions are finally starting to ease, but Travis Petralba remembers a time where the mysterious illness may have meant the end of his MMA career.
As a nurse, expectations are that you’ll be dealing with a lot of unpleasant injuries and contagious diseases on a daily basis. Make sure you have comfortable shoes on, too, because you’ll be doing plenty of walking with very little rest time. It’s nothing that Lion Fight’s Petralba couldn’t handle.
Yet when the most mysterious disease in most of our lifetimes swept through the world, Petralba knew it was time to put up or shut up.
“Being a nurse in the ER, we saw some people who got it really mild and some people who had it severely,” Petralba recalls. “We saw both of those. Obviously no one wants to get it severely, but you never know how it’s going to affect you until you get it, so that was the scary part for me.”
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Being a part-time fighter, Petralba finally got in the groove of balancing a social life, fighting and working when the coronavirus started to spread. And almost immediately, it all came to a halt.
“At the time when COVID hit and traveling kind of plummeted, I was set to fight in Thailand again for a really big fight. I was getting ready for a title shot at Max Muay Thai in Thailand so I was getting ready for that and then COVID hit and it kind of stopped all my traveling and I couldn’t go anymore.”
As a nurse in the immediate outbreak, Petralba knew that it was a courtesy to his team, family and friends to treat them all as though he was as contagious as his daily patients.
“I had to isolate myself from my fighting career at the time just to protect my teammates and my gym,” Petralba explained. “I didn’t want to get them sick just because I’m taking care of these people, so I kind of had to isolate myself a little bit in that sense.”
While it was up to Petralba to be bedside for those extremely affected by COVID-19, it was up to him to stay completely secluded from his teammates to protect them from potentially being next. With all his alone time, he had plenty of time to think about the potential long-term effects of his health thanks to the sweeping disease.
“I was also worried about the long-term effects because I know people that got COVID, recovered from it but they’re still not 100%,” Petralba explained. “It’s been over six months and they still find some fatigue, still find some difficulty breathing and that’s absolutely scary for a fighter to imagine that happening to.”
While the threat of COVID doesn’t have world on as high of alert as it once did, Petralba still goes to work with two masks, a face shield and an appropriate concern for those around him. After two and a half years since his last fight, he finally feels ready to get back into the ring.
It’s tough to say with his ER career how consistent his fight career will ever be again but, for now, he’s ready, and fear of ring rust or not, it’s time to get back in and test out all eight limbs.
“I’m more worried about the ring rust than I am about my conditioning now because I feel like my training hasn’t changed at all,” Petralba calmly said. “My training has been the same, but I feel like there’s always a bit of ring rust whenever people take longer than six months off.”
Catch the return of Travis Petralba at Lion Fight 70 LIVE Friday, October 8, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!