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Is MMA Too Brutal?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport, the style of fighting used relates to traditional and non-traditional martial arts. It combines different fighting styles, including karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, Vale Tudo, Muay Thai,Brazilian Ju jitsu and many more. A Mixed Martial Artists has to cross train in a variety of styles to counter their opponent’s strengths and remain effective in all the phases of combat. Fighters battle it out in a cage with very little protective equipment on, wearing thin gloves and are barefoot. Fighters are allowed to punch, kick, grab or do anything else to their opponents to win the matches. Jackie Chan personally doesn’t like the sport.

Fighters can win a mixed martial arts match three different ways. A fighter can knockout or hold into submission his opponent, or win by a judge’s decision. A knock out means as soon as a fighter becomes unconscious due to strikes the opponent is considered the winner of the match. In many cases when a person is knocked out of consciousness they suffer a concussion. Damage to the brain caused by a concussion can last for decades after the original head injury. A concussion can cause temporary loss of brain function leading to cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms. Such as confusion, vomiting, headaches, vertigo, depression/mood swings and disturbed sleep. Symptoms can appear immediately or can take a few days or even weeks. Even after the symptoms of the concussion appear to be gone the brain is still not one- hundred percent back to normal. An athlete that returns to their sport too soon after a concussion and suffers another one can face an extremely high risk of serious brain damage.

thats-gotta-hurtRules were developed to protect the health of MMA fighters, the desire to rid the idea of “barbarism and lawlessness”, and to be recognized as a legitimate sport. There are nine different weight classes, as information about submissions were learned, differences in weight between fighters had become an important factor. Small opened fingered gloves were introduced to protect the fist and reduce cuts. Time limits were created to prevent long fights with little actions where competitors saved their energy and strength. Although there are rules fighters still sustain a variety of different injuries. The most commonly injured part of the body is the head followed by the wrist. The most frequent injuries reported are lacerations, fractures and concussions.

The media often reports MMA fighting as brutal and deadly but there are no documented cases of deaths prior to 2007. In the year 2007 Sam Vasquez collapsed after being knocked out by his opponent Vince Libardi in a fight at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. He then had two surgeries to remove blood clots in his brain. Shortly after the second operation Vasquez suffered a devastating stroke and never regained consciousness, he died on November 30, 2007. In 2010 another death occurred when Michael Kirkham was knocked out by his opponent and never regained consciousness. He was pronounced dead two days after the fight. Another example of a gruesome injury occurring during an MMA match was when Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman faced each other in an Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title fight. Silva kicked Weidman with his left leg during the second round, when Weidman raised his leg to block the kick the bones in Silva’s lower leg snapped like a twig. The fight was ended and Silva went straight to surgery and now his career is on the line.

In a study by John Hopkins University that appeared in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine they reported that a MMA fighter suffers from less traumatic brain injuries compared to those in the sport of Boxing. If a player suffers a concussion in the NRL or AFL they will most likely sit on the bench for maybe about a week, however in the UFC after a concussion, a fighter is banned for months from even sparring let alone getting back in the cage for a match.punch-300x265

The sport of MMA fighting has tight regulations to help protect its competitors and the structures such as ‘The Cage’ can actually help prevent injuries although it does make it look more like “barbaric savagery”. It has been said that the sport of MMA is safer than Boxing, this is because Boxing only allows punches above the waist and at a much closer range which guarantees there will be more blows to the head. MMA targets the full body of the opponent which can mean a safer sport for the brains of a fighter. MMA fighting seems like it could be one of the most dangerous sports played but any athlete in any sport can be injured. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2007 about 920,000 athletes under the age of 18 were treated in emergency rooms or doctors’ offices for a football-related injury. Concussions are the most reported injury sustained from playing Football but a player can be injured anywhere on their body due to harsh tackles. The force of being brought to the ground or resisting being tackled can cause a number of injuries to the body. Common injuries from soccer are ankle sprains, strained or torn muscles and concussions. Some injuries baseball or softball players suffer from are torn rotator cuff, tendonitis, muscle strains in the back and shoulders, and knee ligament injuries.

There are common injuries in any sport played, it’s just part of the game.