New Study Shows MMA Brain injury Risk Higher Than Boxing


This can’t be good for mixed martial arts in this day and age.

Yahoo Sports reports that a new study, published by the University of Toronto, has found the idea that somehow MMA is “safer than boxing” or other contact sports just isn’t true.

Researchers thoroughly examined footage and records from 844 UFC bouts, spanning a time period of 6 years (2006-2012), for reference points. They found that “108 matches or nearly 13 percent ended in knockouts. Another 179 matches, or 21 percent, ended in technical knockouts, usually after a combatant was hit in the head five to 10 times in the last 10 seconds before the fight was stopped.”

Michael Hutchison, co-author and director of the concussion program at the university’s MacIntosh Sports Medicine Clinic, said in an interview:

“We’re taking the premise with this that what you see on TV is one thing, but to kind of add scientific rigor to document it objectively. With the technical knockouts, or TKOs, they reviewed videos and found “an increasing number of repetitive strikes to the head” during the last 30 seconds of a match.”

Chief operating officer for the UFC, Lawerance Epstein, responded to the study; calling it “somewhat flawed”. He fired back citing their commitment to the safety of the fighters:

“By partnering with the Cleveland Clinic, one of the world’s leading medical research institutions, on advanced studies aimed at not only preventing long-term brain injuries, but also identifying those predisposed to them, the UFC demonstrates true commitment to the safety of all professional athletes.” he said.

The study is coming to light at a particularly bad time for the sport because of the intensifying concern with brain injuries for athletes in ALL contact sports. Leagues like the NFL and NHL are watching studies like these closely and are always looking for ways to apply rule changes to make the games safer. Whether or not they are safer, however; is another debate.

With many predicting the end of the NFL within 20 years behind these concussion issues, what could this mean for the viability of the UFC?