It is no surprise that concussions are common for mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. It is a sport built around fighting after all. But, you may be surprised by just how common a new study out of Canada says they are.
According to one of the first scientific reviews of MMA’s concussion-related risks, MMA fighters could be suffering traumatic brain injuries in almost a third of all professional fights. That’s significantly more than other sports commonly associated with brain injuries such as hockey, football, or even boxing.
Unfortunately, the study didn’t allow the researchers to physically examine any of the professional fighters involved in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), so we can’t know how accurate the findings are. Instead, the team analyzed seven years of UFC scorecards – which detail if a fight ends in a knockout or technical knockout – as well as analyzing extensive amounts of footage. In their findings, the team says the risk of brain injuries is “likely exacerbated by the “surprising,” repeated blows to the head delivered after they have already been put out cold.
It is hard to put a lot of weight in the study, considering they were never able to examine medical records of fighters or examine them in person. But, if the real rates of brain injuries in MMA are anywhere near the numbers stated in the study, the UFC may have a rocky road to face in the future.