Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Brain injuries and full contact fighting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Brain injuries and full contact fighting

    This is a shoe that's been waiting to drop... It's a long article - too long to cut and paste at this moment. This is just the first fifth or so of it.

    MMA fighting: Inside look at the brutal sport's rising popularity and danger
    Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
    Print By Matthew Stanmyre/The Star-Ledger
    on November 10, 2013 at 12:05 AM, updated November 12, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    At 11 o'clock on a Thursday night in August, the thermostat inside George Sullivan's apartment is cranked to 90 degrees.

    This might as well be hell.

    Over the next 20 hours, Sullivan, a professional mixed martial arts fighter from Brick, must lose 13 pounds. If he fails to shed the weight -- 7 percent of his 184 pounds -- he will jeopardize a full payday for his fight two nights later in Atlantic City.

    "This smells," Sullivan says. "It makes you light-headed. You're miserable. Plus, the alcohol is burning every cut."

    Sullivan strips and eases into the scalding water.

    "Ahh!" he howls. "It burns!"

    The intensity of the alcohol takes over the room, making it difficult to breathe. But Sullivan soaks for 20 minutes before staggering out of the tub and climbing back into his sauna suit.

    He lies on the floor for another 15 minutes and has a friend cover him with towels like a mummy to seal in heat. When he gets up and peels off the suit, sweat pours out like rainwater from an overturned bucket.

    Sullivan then moves to the toilet, where he slumps forward, bare-chested. He uses a silver $25 Visa gift card to scrape sweat from his arms, legs, head and torso. This allows the water to leave his body more efficiently.

    "It feels like the world's pushing in on me," he says. "I literally feel like I'm being squeezed."

    A little after 6:30 the next morning, following a few hours of sleep, Sullivan ambles into Bally Total Fitness in Brick. He weighs 180 pounds, nine short of the goal.

    The next five hours are a test of will and sanity.

    Sullivan sits in the sauna for 20- to 30-minute intervals, chewing orange bubble gum and spitting into a paper cup to rid himself of more fluids. He's again slathering Albolene and scraping sweat. It has been more than 10 hours without food and he won't even sip water now.

    The only thing Sullivan has put into his body since he woke up is a half-cup of hot tea with honey.

    George "The Silencer" Sullivan, a professional mixed martial arts fighter from Brick Township, takes a bath in scalding hot water laced with epsom salt and isopropyl rubbing alcohol to cut weight before his August 2013 MMA fight against Philadelphia brawler Jesus Martinez in Atlantic City.
    He checks his weight every hour or so.

    By 8:01 a.m., he's 176.7.

    By 8:46: 174.8.

    By 9:55: 172.6.

    By 10:37: 171.2.

    After each spell in the sauna, Sullivan, 32, is a snapshot of a slightly different man. Once robust and imposing, he is now gaunt. His eyes are foggy and vacant. His feet and ears are purple and swollen. His brain hurts and his heart, he says, beats at an odd clip.

    "Oh my God, you look so skinny!" says his fiancee, Christine Rusher. "I hate this."

    By 11 o'clock, Sullivan gets under 171 and wobbles out of Bally.

    The final score: 13 pounds in 12 hours.

    At 7:32 that night, a sinewy Sullivan stands on a scale at the Gypsy Bar inside the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. He has eaten exactly one and a half ice pops since leaving the sauna. The display shows an even 170, now down 14 pounds from the previous night. With a look of exhausted satisfaction hanging from his face, Sullivan steps off the scale and guzzles from a bottle of Pedialyte that has been mixed with water.

    In just 26 hours, he will step into the cage at an astonishing 195 pounds. The life will have returned to his face and body, just in time to slug it out with a brawler from Philadelphia named Jesus Martinez in a welterweight title bout. The fight could net Sullivan enough to cover his rent for the next year, or about $13,000, after he pays his training expenses.

    This is how it works in one of America's fastest growing sports.

    Mixed martial arts, or simply MMA, is cage fighting that mixes punching, kicking and grappling. Likened to human ****fighting and blood sport by detractors, its intoxicating mix of athleticism, intensity and violence delivers something people have been lining up to see since Rome built the Colosseum.

    Still in its infancy, MMA already has entrenched itself in popular culture. It is a success on pay-per-view and cable, and it has started to gain a foothold on network TV.

    But hidden from the excitement of fight night is a jarring world few outsiders see. The training, preparation and sparring required before even stepping into the chain-link-enclosed cage is unlike anything in sports, including boxing.

    Regardless, tens of thousands of men and women are flocking to gyms that are sprouting up like yogurt shops and nail salons in strip malls across the country. Inside, punches, kicks and knees are exchanged in training sessions that can turn more violent than blood-soaked fight nights. Some fighters spar three and four days a week and accept punishment beyond all conventional limits.

    Daring fighters allow training partners to punch them in the face to test their chins. Smaller fighters take beatings from larger men to measure themselves. And injuries are routinely ignored or hidden.

    Most within the MMA community are quick to dismiss critics and any suggestion of long-term risks, but a growing chorus of medical experts believes fighters are on course to develop brain diseases similar to boxers, pro wrestlers and football players.

    "No matter how you're getting hit, you're going to have damage," says Charles Bernick, the principal investigator of a groundbreaking study in Las Vegas focused on examining the brains of boxers and MMA fighters. "I don't think MMA people are immune to it. Whether you look at them separately or together (with boxers), you still get these findings."

    Adds Vincent McInerney of St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson: "I'm stunned -- stunned -- that they've been allowed to do this. This is absolutely barbaric. It's like bare-knuckles fighting again. And they're using elbows and knees. This is crazy beyond belief."

    Bernick and McInerney are among the nationally recognized experts on head trauma and brain injuries interviewed by The Star-Ledger during a six-month investigation of MMA. Several marveled that there has been so little discussion about the sport's long-term risks, given the NFL's landmark legal settlement with former players earlier this year.

    The Star-Ledger's reporting found several fighters with frightening tales about brain trauma. One fighter, for example, says he slurs his speech for up to 36 hours after sparring sessions. He also was found wandering a department store, oblivious to how he got there. Others tell stories of being dizzy for months after a fight and unable to remember people they've met a few days earlier.

    "There's no denying these fighters will have a problem in the future because they're exposed to extraordinary amounts of brain trauma," says Chris Nowinski, co-founder and executive director of the famed Sports Legacy Institute in Boston. "I've read the defenses, saying that boxing is worse because they continue to fight after a standing-eight count. But it's a small nuance.

    "You're striking each other in the head. The reality of mixed martial arts is you're able to throw kicks and knees to the head, which exposes the fighters to even greater brain trauma than you can bring with a fist."

    And more troubling to some, pre-fight brain scans aren't required in every state, and when they are, doctors say the average CT scan or MRI does not always detect concussions or signs of cumulative damage that can lead to neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) -- the same kinds of diseases plaguing many former boxers and players from other contact sports.

    For their part, MMA's proponents argue the sport is safer than boxing because there are fewer head shots.

    There are two main reasons for that, they say: In MMA, most of the body can be targeted so there are fewer punches to the face and head, and, secondly, a lot of the action happens on the ground, where fights can be won with "submission" moves such as neck chokes and arm and leg locks.

    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
    COmbat Sports athletes get hit in the head, so the results are predictable

    What about all the forms fairies? what accounts for their brain damage
    Chan Tai San Book at

    Quote Originally Posted by taai gihk yahn View Post
    well, like LKFMDC - he's a genuine Kung Fu Hero™
    Quote Originally Posted by Taixuquan99 View Post
    As much as I get annoyed when it gets derailed by the array of strange angry people that hover around him like moths, his good posts are some of my favorites.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kellen Bassette View Post
    I think he goes into a cave to meditate and recharge his chi...and bite the heads off of bats, of course....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    It's what we were all thinking...

    Head Trauma in Mixed Martial Arts

    Michael G. Hutchison, PhD*,†,
    David W. Lawrence, MD‡,
    Michael D. Cusimano, MD, PhDठand
    Tom A. Schweizer, PhD‡‖

    + Author Affiliations

    †David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    ‡Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    §Division of Neurosurgery, Injury Prevention Research Office, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    ‖Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Investigation performed at St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    ↵*Michael G. Hutchison, PhD, David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, 55 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 2W6 (e-mail:


    Background: Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full combative sport with a recent global increase in popularity despite significant scrutiny from medical associations. To date, the empirical research of the risk of head injuries associated with this sport is limited. Youth and amateur participation is growing, warranting investigation into the burden and mechanism of injuries associated with this sport.

    Purpose: (1) To determine the incidence, risk factors, and characteristics of knockouts (KOs) and technical knockouts (TKOs) from repetitive strikes in professional MMA; and (2) to identify the mechanisms of head trauma and the situational factors that lead to KOs and TKOs secondary to repetitive strikes through video analysis.

    Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

    Methods: Competition data and video records for all KOs and TKOs from numbered Ultimate Fighting Championship MMA events (n = 844) between 2006 to 2012. Analyses included (1) multivariate logistic regression to investigate factors associated with an increased risk of sustaining a KO or TKO secondary to repetitive strikes and (2) video analysis of all KOs and TKOs secondary to repetitive strikes with descriptive statistics.

    Results: During the study period, the KO rate was 6.4 per 100 athlete-exposures (AEs) (12.7% of matches), and the rate of TKOs secondary to repetitive strikes was 9.5 per 100 AEs (19.1% of matches), for a combined incidence of match-ending head trauma of 15.9 per 100 AEs (31.9% of matches). Logistic regression identified that weight class, earlier time in a round, earlier round in a match, and older age were risk factors for both KOs and TKOs secondary to repetitive strikes. Match significance and previously sustained KOs or TKOs were also risk factors for KOs. Video analysis identified that all KOs were the result of direct impact to the head, most frequently a strike to the mandibular region (53.9%). The average time between the KO-strike and match stoppage was 3.5 seconds (range, 0-20 seconds), with losers sustaining an average of 2.6 additional strikes (range, 0-20 strikes) to the head. For TKOs secondary to strikes, in the 30-second interval immediately preceding match stoppage, losers sustained, on average, 18.5 strikes (range, 5-46 strikes), with 92.3% of these being strikes to the head.

    Conclusion: Rates of KOs and TKOs in MMA are higher than previously reported rates in other combative and contact sports. Public health authorities and physicians should be cognizant of the rates and mechanisms of head trauma. Preventive measures to lessen the risks of head trauma for those who elect to participate in MMA are described.


    One or more of the authors has declared the following potential conflict of interest or source of funding: This study was funded through a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategic Teams in Applied Injury Research. The funding agency had no role in the design of the study; the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data; the writing of the report; or the decision to submit the article for publication.
    This story made it all the way to TMZ
    MMA Fighting -- More Brain Damage Than Boxing and Football ... Study Says
    3/28/2014 12:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
    breaking news

    MMA is the worst sport for head injuries -- even worse than football -- so says a new study.

    A University of Toronto study published this month in the American Journal of Sports Medicine examined records and videos from 844 bouts, finding that about 1/3 of them end in a knockout or TKO.

    The study says the head trauma rate in MMA is greater than boxing, football and hockey.

    MMA groups contend the study is flawed.

    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Another study

    Head Blows And Brain Injury: Boxing And Mixed Martial Arts Cause A Similar Loss Of Processing Speed In Fighters' Brains
    Jan 29, 2015 06:30 PM By Susan Scutti

    The repeated head blows sustained by boxers and mixed martial arts fighters link to slower cognitive processing speeds and smaller volumes of certain brain parts. Samuel John Roberts

    Is boxing the better sport or does mixed martial arts win that title? While spectators may debate for hours, the answer to that question when it focuses solely on the health of participants is simple: Both are bad, research indicates, even if martial arts combatants have a slight advantage. The repeated head blows sustained by fighters during their battles link to slower cognitive processing speeds and smaller volumes of certain brain parts.

    “Repetitive head trauma may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and is considered the primary cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),” wrote the authors in their new study. Alzheimer’s is a well-known form of dementia, while CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain linked to memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and progressive dementia.
    No Matter Age or Race

    To understand how these sports might affect fighters’ brains, researchers from Cleveland Clinic turned to the data collected by the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study (PFBHS). They identified 224 professional fighters: 131 mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters and 93 boxers. The PFBHS athletes were all between the ages of 18 and 44 and the average time these professionals had fought was about four years, with an average number of 10 total matches. While slightly more than half had a high school education (give or take), just under half had spent at least some time in college. In terms of race, 89 were white, 59 black, and 76 other. Next, the researchers matched these athletes with 22 same-aged people with a similar level of education but no history of head trauma.

    At the start of the study, all participants underwent an MRI scan to assess their brain volume and then they returned for a brain scan annually for four years after that. At each juncture, the researchers tested their verbal memory, processing speed, fine motor skills, and reaction times as a general assessment of brainpower. Next, the researchers calculated for each athlete a Fight Exposure Score, or FES, which combines duration and intensity of fight career.

    Finally, they crunched the numbers and what they discovered will make any mother wince.

    Fighters with an FES score of four were found to be 8.8 percent slower in processing speed than those with an FES score of 0. Add to that, the higher the score, the smaller the brain volume, particularly in the thalamus and the caudate. The thalamus acts as a gateway to the cortex, the outer layer of brain tissue linked to consciousness and decision-making. The caudate resides in the basal ganglia, where it is part of a system responsible for voluntary movement. The researchers speculate the typical response to a punch — when a fighter’s head rotates slightly — might be the cause of volume loss in the thalamus and caudate.

    More generally, smaller brain volumes plus higher Fight Exposure Scores were linked to slower brain processing speeds. In fact, the researchers estimated a 0.19 percent reduction in processing speed per fight and a 2.1 percent reduction for each increase in FES. Irrespective of age, boxers tended to fare worse than martial arts combatants.

    “Perhaps the most obvious explanation is that boxers get hit in the head more,” the authors note. “MMA fighters can utilize other combat skills such as wrestling and jiu jitsu to win their match by submission without causing a concussion.” In the end, boxers' brain structure volumes were smaller and they were mentally slower than the mixed martial arts fighters. Ever so slightly, then, MMA edges out boxing as the 'better' sport, at least in terms of a fighter's health.

    Source: Bernick C, Banks SJ, Shin W, et al. Repeated head trauma is associated with smaller thalamic volumes and slower processing speed: the Professional Fighters’ Brain Health Study. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015.
    I'm glad to see the boxing comparison in this one as I've been in many discussions about this very topic.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Why we deregulate...

    Regulations aren't profitable.

    Science News from research organizations
    Rate and risk of head injury in mixed martial arts remain unknown
    Date: December 22, 2017
    Source: St. Michael's Hospital

    Summary: The rate and potential risk of traumatic brain injury in mixed martial arts remain unknown due to lack of regulation and protocols surrounding these injuries, according to a new study.


    The rate and potential risk of traumatic brain injury in mixed martial arts remain unknown due to lack of regulation and protocols surrounding these injuries, according to a new study.

    Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital reviewed 18 studies involving 7,587 patients, examining head injuries in MMA fighting published between 1990 and 2016.

    Of the studies included in the review, published online in the journal Trauma, there was no consistent definition of head injury, concussion or traumatic brain injury, or consistent protocol for how these injuries are reported and medical clearance return to play, making it impossible to determine the frequency and severity of these injuries in MMA fighting, according to the authors.

    The studies were primarily observational and used inconsistent reporting methods, and no information regarding long-term followup of injured fighters was available, according to the authors.

    This made it also impossible to define potential risk factors including gender, age, head injury history, total number of matches in a career or professional status of MMA fighters with any level of certainty, they said.

    "Over the past 25 years, MMA has grown into a mainstream sport and a multibillion-dollar industry, but despite its popularity, there is still a lack of understanding of how often head injuries are happening, how severe the injuries are, and the long-term health outcomes of the athletes," said Dr. Joel Lockwood, an emergency physician at St. Michael's and lead author of the study.

    While there was no consistent, medically accepted term for head injury suffered during MMA fighting across the 18 studies, the review found "technical knockouts," which occur when the referee stops a fight or when an injury is severe enough a participant can no longer defend themselves, and "knockouts," which occur when a participant is knocked unconscious from strikes or kicks, occurred at a rate ranging between 28.3 -- 46.2 percent of all matches, with some studies showing the lifetime average of 6.2 technical knockouts or knockouts in a career.

    The review also suggested that a significant number of fights ended due to repeated strikes to the head, leaving the losing participant partially or completely unresponsive, according to the authors. One study included in the review reported an average of 18.5 strikes to the head in the seconds preceding complete unresponsiveness amongst professional MMA athletes.

    The lack of high-quality data makes it difficult to compare the incidence or severity of head injuries sustained in MMA to other contact sports, the authors said.

    It is possible that the search strategy used to identify studies for review could have missed articles reporting no association between head injuries and MMA fighting, but it is unlikely because the methodology included all MMA articles detailing injury patterns and any trauma to the head, according to the authors.

    "There has been a lot of reporting on the long-term effects of concussions sustained in contact sports, including hockey and football, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE," said Dr. Lockwood. "Participation in MMA fighting is likely associated with repetitive head injuries with potential negative long-term neurological consequences, and the lack of regulation regarding head injuries in the sport leads to a subsequent lack of data available to study these injuries."

    In Canada, MMA is regulated provincially. In Ontario, the athletic commissioner requires a ringside physician to be present for MMA events. There is no requirement for specific education or training in head injury assessment or treatment, and in the past nephrologists, cardiologists and plastic surgeons have been employed as ringside physicians in Canada, according to the review.

    Fighters who sustain a head injury are suspended for a fixed period of 60 days, regardless of ongoing symptoms, and can be cleared by any physician with a normal CT, MRI or electroencephalogram, the authors said. This is in contrast to position statement of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine, which suggests diagnosis, sideline evaluation, standardized neurophysiologic testing and return to play decisions are made by a health-care provider familiar with the athlete and knowledgeable in the recognition and evaluation of head injuries.

    Regulations must ensure fight promoters and sanctioning bodies are actively involved in fighter safety, rather than this responsibility being solely on the MMA participant, said Dr. Lockwood.

    "Currently, there is little known regarding the incidence, risk factors or possible long-term neurological effects of head injuries sustained in MMA fighting, and only low-quality observational research has been done on this topic," he said. "This is unlikely to change without increased medical oversight and regulation including accurate and consistent head injury assessment and diagnosis by trained medical professionals."

    Story Source:

    Materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Original written by Kelly O'Brien. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

    Journal Reference:

    Joel Lockwood, Liam Frape, Steve Lin, Alun Ackery. Traumatic brain injuries in mixed martial arts: A systematic review. Trauma, 2017; 146040861774090 DOI: 10.1177/1460408617740902
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    More studies

    This Is Your Brain on Mixed Martial Arts
    By Mark Barna | December 28, 2017 12:38 pm

    (Credit: Shutterstock)

    Michael Bisping has fought professionally in mixed martial arts since 2004. Last year, the journeyman won his first title. He knocked out Luke Rockhold in the first round to win the middleweight belt in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, the most popular of several MMA organizations.

    On Nov. 4 of this year, at age 38, Bisping defended his title for a second time. His opponent was the Canadian Georges St. Pierre, a former UFC champ. The fight, held in New York’s Madison Square Garden, was close until the third round, when a series of blows knocked Bisping to the canvas. Pierre pounced on the fallen fighter and applied a rear-naked choke, cutting off oxygen to Bisping’s brain. His body went limp.

    On Nov. 25, within weeks of going limp, Bisping was in the octagon again. This time 7,000 miles away in Shanghai, China. He had volunteered to fight a young up-and-comer after the original opponent, Anderson Silva, was pulled from the card following a failed drug test. It was no contest. Bisping got knocked out in the first round.

    Three weeks. Two brutal fights.

    These days, with more science available on brain injuries in sports (especially CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy), the National Football League, National Hockey League and other organizations are doing more to protect athletes. Executives are making rules changes, establishing more stringent health checkups, and some groups have introduced improved headgear.

    The most well-known combat sport organization, the National Boxing Association, is no angel; allegations of corruption have plagued it for decades, and it’s not known for putting a fighter’s health first. Still, it’s hard to imagine one of its former and high-profile champions being allowed to fight three weeks after a violent loss, as Bisping did in the UFC.

    But this is mixed martial arts, a 25-year-old combat sport that has become a multi-billion-dollar industry — but still has its share of growing pains.

    A comprehensive review published this month in the journal Trauma suggests that MMA organizations are lax when it comes to monitoring the health of its fighters. And because the organizations don’t consistently track injuries to the combatants, the rate and risk of injuries remain largely unknown, the reviewers say.

    This is all the more concerning because many adolescents and teenagers are taking up the sport without fully knowing the long-term cognitive risks.

    Lots of Head Blows
    The researchers for the Trauma report looked at 18 studies involving 7,587 fighters from 1990 to 2016. Some of the studies indicated that nearly half of MMA fights ended due to head blows, though other studies offered a lower percentage, one putting it at 28 percent. Another study found only 13 percent of fighters sought or were given medical attention for concussive symptoms from blows delivered either in training or during matches. And more than half of those fighters returned to training within two days.

    Of the limited neurological tests done on fighters, the results are sobering.

    “Five studies measured degenerative neuroanatomical and cognitive changes associated with repetitive blunt head trauma sustained in combat sports,” the reviewers say. “Participants were found to have microstructural brain damage when compared to controls in all five studies. Additionally, one set of studies found fighters with more lifetime bouts tended to have lower cognitive test scores, processing speed, and increased signs of motor impulsiveness.”

    MMA health studies also tend to lack a clear definition of a concussion. Several studies equated a knockout to a concussion, and one used the Military Acute Concussion Evaluation as its concussion definition, the reviewers say.

    None of the studies outlined a head injury protocol, or return-to-activity guidelines. There were also no discussions of minimizing traumatic brain injuries, such as by restricting blows to the head, introducing mandatory head protection or developing better padded gloves.

    Joel Lockwood, an emergency physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and a co-author of the review, said in a news release that MMA fighters likely face long-term neurological consequences from repetitive head injuries. The danger “is unlikely to change without increased medical oversight and regulation, including accurate and consistent head injury assessment and diagnosis by trained medical professionals.”

    Shanghai Amnesia
    MMA podcasts, typically hosted by former MMA male fighters, are full of bluster, expletives and the worship of toughness. During one in November, UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier called Bisping’s quick return to the octagon “a gangsta move” — a show of toughness and grit.

    Yet studies show that, as fighters age into their 30s, they can’t take punches like they used to; repeated punches over years degrade the brain’s ability to recover. A 2012 report found that UFC fighters between the ages of 36 and 40 were getting knocked out more often than fighters in younger age groups. It’s also common knowledge that, after taking a pounding in the ring or octagon, a fighter needs time off to mentally and physically recuperate.

    And MMA fighters do take a pounding. A 2014 study concluded that rates of getting knocked out or having a referee stop a fight (TKO) are higher in MMA than in any other combat sport. And over the last decade, three fighters have died as a result of injuries in the octagon, two from head blows, according to the Trauma review.

    Some MMA analysts have shown awareness about the damage inflicted. Former UFC fighter Brendan Shaub, who hosts a podcast, expressed concern for Bisping during a show in November in the run-up to the Shanghai fight. “What I don’t like about it is that it’s 21 days since Michael Bisping just got choked out, KO’d – let’s be honest, what put him on the ground was a left hook.”

    Even so, after Bisping was knocked out within minutes, no podcaster I heard talked honestly about the sport’s health realities. Dana White, the face of the UFC, has not spoken publicly about the issues surrounding the Bisping fight. The talk in MMA circles has moved on to the next card, as though the contest in Shanghai never happened.
    The border crossing issue is huge. Last I heard, restrictions from fighting again soon after a KO were limited by states, so all a fighter had to do was cross a border to fight again.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    CA, USA
    Brain damage not only results from KOs, but also from the accumulation of impacts to the head as well. Any professional (and amateur!) fighter is absorbing various amounts of head trauma, even if it fails to KO them, or even show much effect. Yes, even so-called 'pitter-patter' punches, if absorbed in high numbers over time, contribute to and add to it. Even to fighters with good defensive skills. So you can imagine how much more affected are the types of fighters who like to 'stand and trade', or 'take one to give one'. While the latter category may be more exciting and get the cheers of the crowd, as well as from Joe Rogan and Dana White, it's certainly far worse for their brain health.

    Sure, there are a few fighters (like George Foreman) who, after long careers as fighters (or pro football players), at least superficially, appear to have suffered very little brain damage, but it's all in degrees. Some individuals, due to genetics or luck, may be more resistant to more serious symptoms of CTE. Such people are rare, though.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 01-03-2018 at 05:15 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Hong Kong
    In reply to the defense of MMA proponents, most fights start and end with strikes even other techniques are allowed. And strike to the head quite often occurs. Therefore my view for the time being is not to band MMA. If one is going to train free fight, do not train more than two days per week. If one is going to fight in MMA tournament, do not have more than three fights per year. Look, even a fighter does not die right away during a MMA fight, he does not want to be like Muhammad Ali in his later years.


    Hong Kong

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Repetitive head impacts

    Longitudinal change in regional brain volumes with exposure to repetitive head impacts
    Charles Bernick, Guogen Shan, Henrik Zetterberg, Sarah Banks, View ORCID ProfileVirendra R. Mishra, Lynn Bekris, James B. Leverenz, Kaj Blennow
    First published December 23, 2019, DOI:

    Objective This study tests the hypothesis that certain MRI-based regional brain volumes will show reductions over time in a cohort exposed to repetitive head impacts (RHI).

    Methods Participants were drawn from the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study, a longitudinal observational study of professional fighters and controls. Participants underwent annual 3T brain MRI, computerized cognitive testing, and blood sampling for determination of neurofilament light (NfL) and tau levels. Yearly change in regional brain volume was calculated for several predetermined cortical and subcortical brain volumes and the relationship with NfL and tau levels determined.

    Results A total of 204 participants who had at least 2 assessments were included in the analyses. Compared to controls, the active boxers had an average yearly rate of decline in volumes of the left thalamus (102.3 mm3/y [p = 0.0004], mid anterior corpus callosum (10.2 mm3/y [p = 0.018]), and central corpus callosum (16.5 mm3/y [p = <0.0001]). Retired boxers showed the most significant volumetric declines compared to controls in left (32.1 mm3/y [p = 0.002]) and right (30.6 mm3/y [p = 0.008]) amygdala and right hippocampus (33.5 mm3/y [p = 0.01]). Higher baseline NfL levels were associated with greater volumetric decline in left hippocampus and mid anterior corpus callosum.

    Conclusion Volumetric loss in different brain regions may reflect different pathologic processes at different times among individuals exposed to RHI.

    AD=Alzheimer disease; CTE=chronic traumatic encephalopathy; MMA=mixed martial arts; NfL=neurofilament light; PFBHS=Professional Fighters Brain Health Study; RHI=repetitive head impacts; SNR=signal-to-noise ratio
    Follow the link for the complete study.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Just one year...

    Study – One Year of Boxing Negatively Impacts Working Memory, Short-Term Memory, and Long-Term Memory
    Posted on December 14, 2020 by EMagraken
    In the latest combat sports safety study findings were published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research finding that a year of boxing had measurably noticeable negative consequences for the participants memory.

    In the recent study, titled Neuropsychological Study on the Effects of Boxing Upon Athletes’ Memory, the authors reviewed neuropsychological data from 28 boxers compared to a control group of 30 other non boxer athletes.

    After a year of boxing the data revealed “the results of CALT1 (short-term memory), CALT8 (long-term memory), and CALT9 (recognition memory) were lower in the boxing group than that in the matched group after a year” prompting the authors to conclude that “exposure to 1 year of boxing training can impair the boxers’ working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Therefore, boxers should strengthen their head protection during training to avoid frequent impacts to the head.“

    The full abstract reads as follows:

    This study attempts to explore the impairment of athletes’ memory caused by 1 year of boxing training according to the n-back test and Chinese auditory learning test (CALT). Accordingly, 58 new athletes were prospectively analyzed from a sports school, where 28 athletes who received boxing training were regarded as the exposed group and 30 athletes who received matched training were taken as unexposed group for a duration of 1 year. All participants respectively completed an n-back test (to test working memory) and a CALT test (to test short-term memory and long-term memory) before and after the training. During the tests, accuracy and reaction time from the n-back test and the correct number from CALT were recorded. The accuracy of the boxing group was observed to be lower than that of the matched group in the 2-back test (p < 0.05), whereas the reaction time of the boxing group was longer than that of the matched group (p < 0.05) after a year of boxing practice. The results of CALT1 (short-term memory), CALT8 (long-term memory), and CALT9 (recognition memory) were lower in the boxing group than that in the matched group after a year (p < 0.05).

    The results suggest that exposure to 1 year of boxing training can impair the boxers’ working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Therefore, boxers should strengthen their head protection during training to avoid frequent impacts to the head.
    In all fairness, I'm changing the title of this from "Brain injuries & MMA" to "Brain injuries and full contact fighting"
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts