Jorge Gurgel ripped Tyler Combs as a “poor excuse of a man” for withdrawing from their March 5 Strikeforce bout, but Combs says his injury is legit.

Tyler Combs just did the cowardly thing that I knew he was going to do, and he pulled out,” Gurgel said on the Sherdog Radio Network just days before the event. “He’s not injured whatsoever. He’s walking around, and that’s not a speculation. That’s a fact. I have a lot of friends in common.”

However, Combs explained that walking around was irrelevant because he had injured a hand that already has a metal plate and pins in it.

“Actually the injury occurred Monday night [Feb. 28] after my second session of training,” Combs said on “Beatdown.” “I heard Jorge’s interview on your guys’ radio show, and he is saying that it’s a leg injury, which is false. I actually reinjured my hand that I broke a year ago and had to have surgery on. I pulled out Tuesday [March 1]. I’d given my hand a day to hopefully get a little better. After Tuesday, I couldn’t even make a fist. By then I kind of realized that it wouldn’t be a good idea to fight with one hand.”

Gurgel suggested that Combs had withdrawn because prior sparring sessions did not go well for him.

“I’ve knocked him out before, a couple of times, and I knew he wasn’t going to step up into the cage with me,” he said. “He knows he doesn’t belong in the cage with me. … I knew he wouldn’t want me to do what I was going to do to him in front of his family and everybody that likes him. He chose the easy way out.”

Combs has a different take on the training session. He explained that he and Gurgel both work with muay Thai coach Neal Rowe, who invited Combs to Gurgel’s camp to help him prepare for a fight.

“One training session, we were just going light, maybe like 50 percent, not trying to hurt each other,” Combs said. “After about two rounds of me just moving around too much and pretty much getting in and out of Jorge’s range, Jorge decided to take it up a notch and throw a head kick that was probably harder than a ‘Cro Cop’ head kick and pretty much put me on my butt. I wasn’t aware of the fact that we were going to go as hard as we were or I’d have went a little harder. Jorge was just getting frustrated that I was getting the better of him. … Even Neal said, ‘He was getting frustrated that you were getting the better of him and he threw a head kick that was way, way harder.’”

Gurgel ended up scoring a quick submission over Combs’ replacement, Billy Vaughan, at the Strikeforce event. Combs is still interested in the matchup. He believes it would look like the typical Gurgel bout, with two fighters slugging it out, except this time the combatants would genuinely dislike each other.

“Whenever my hand heals up and I’m able to start training again hard,” Combs said, “I’d like to get that fight on the road.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 29:00).

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