The Concussion Discussion
Any concussion received either during or in the build-up to a fight has been the subject of discussion in medical circles for some time. Rather than getting into the argument about the perceived longstanding effects. I thought it would be more interesting to look closer at the subject through the recent history of MMA.
Throughout the sports short existence, we have witnessed some of the most brutal knockouts, ever seen in full-contact combat sports. Mixed martial arts is the only sport which combines the elements of both stand-up and ground fighting into one single sport. Allowing for strikes both while on the feet and to a grounded fighter.
In it, you see elbows strikes which had previously only been the foundation in Muay Thai. But MMA also added the ability for competitors to strike to the head. With punches and elbows while their opponent is grounded.
In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that PRIDE fighting Championships allowed soccer kicks to the head to a downed opponent. A “technique” which has since been removed from the Nevada State rules book. But is still being allowed by One FC in Asia, who use a combination of PRIDE and Nevada State rules.
Something else we should not forget is that while swinging with reckless abandonment. These guys are only wearing 4-ounce gloves. Now to put that tiny fact into perspective, professional boxers usually use anywhere from 6 up to 16-ounce gloves. Depending on the weight class, whether amateur or professional etc.
MMA gloves offer the absolute minimum of padding legally allowed and when you get hit with them, all bets are off. It’s no wonder MMA fighters do so much conditioning to try to absorb the punishment. And minimise any damage the impact of those strikes may have.
Some MMA Fighters Do Not Do Much Sparring
Just after their recent fight for the welterweight title, an interesting bit of information came to light when both Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler openly stated. That they either don’t do a lot of or in Lawler’s case, did not spar at all for a long long time! Before coming back into the UFC fold.
A fact to which Lawler attributes much of the longevity of his fighting career! And with a successful professional career spanning some 14 years. Perhaps his argument for avoiding additional damage during sparring holds some water?
You really don’t have to go far to find numerous competitors in high impact sports for whom too many strikes to the head. Has had long term negative impact on their quality of life. Within the sport of MMA, one such fighter from the days of the Pride Fighting Championships, Gary Goodridge, has since gone on to suffer from dementia.
A condition which has been closely associated with taking too many blows to the head throughout his career. It’s no wonder with fighters such as Jerome Le Banner, Igor Vovchanchyn and Fedor Emelianenko. Having handed out some severe beat downs to the former arm-wrestling World Champion.
Medical studies have concluded that any head trauma should be kept to a minimum and as a result. Heavy sparring with fighters being knocked out. Should not be occurring in any club and there go, should no longer be part of the modern-day training regime.
The Brutal Early Years of MMA
Take it back to the early years of mixed martial arts, with teams such as Chute box and the Lions Den. Where the sparring sessions were legendary and where some of those fighters were being KO’d on the regular. As you take a look at their roster of talent. Some of these fighters have gone on to have very successful and lengthy careers.
But over time, some have taken so much damage both in and out of the competition. That even at a relatively young age, their bodies can no longer function at the highest level. But as we now know, any fighter who has been repeatedly knocked out throughout their career. Seems to hit a slippery slope where a seemingly innocuous punch can put an early end to their night.
But in reality, there is no real way to minimise head trauma in this sport. It is what it is and that is an integral part of what makes MMA the most exciting sport on the planet. When these men and women who are amongst some of the very toughest athletes in the world, step into that cage. They know what the are letting themselves in for.
Sure the well being and career longevity of the fighter must be paramount. Through the use of high-quality referees and by not taking too much damage outside of the actual fights. The vast majority of these gladiators should go on to have long and fruitful careers. It won’t guarantee them a win, but if they treat themselves right, their bodies will do the rest.