MMA Fighters at Risk of Brain Injuries

A recent recent study by a group of University of Toronto researchers asserts that mixed martial arts (MMA) is potentially more hazardous to the brain than boxing. Mixed martial arts combines numerous fighting styles into one match. Participants utilize movements and techniques from judo, wrestling and kick-boxing inside of a ring enclosure. No headgear is worn during these matches. According to the study, about one-third of all MMA bouts end with a knockout. Researchers explain that, after reviewing more than 800 fights between 2006 and 2012, they concluded that 13% ended with the winner knocking out the opponent, while 21% ended due to technical knockouts, where the referee stops the fight. based on the condition of the losing fighter. These knockouts reportedly resulted from numerous, repetitive blows to the head at the very end of the fight.

UFC’s Response to the Findings
The United Fighting Championship (UFC) is the major branding agent of MMA. Its chief operating officer, Lawrence Epstein reportedly criticized the study as being “somewhat flawed.” arguing that MMA is actually safer than boxing, with numerous protective measures in place for fighter safety. UFC officials assert that no MMA fights have ended in death or traumatic brain injury. According to an NBC news report, the organization is currently pursuing a New York state license to sponsor MMA fights within the state. Currently, New York prohibits all MMA fights. It is the only state in the country that takes this strict stance. Most states have created regulations to govern the fights, while many take no stance on the fights at all.

According to the article, the Cleveland Clinic is also working on an MMA study, with the participation of almost 400 current and former fighters. The Cleveland study will look at the safety of the sport itself, but its researchers are also considering several contributing factors to evaluate whether some participants are predisposed to concussions. Genetics and head trauma exposure will be reviewed, in addition to the number and frequency of fights. Mixed martial arts is growing in participation and popularity. Among the many new fighters to the sport are a large number of children. This increase in youth participation raises concerns, with some researchers asserting that child fighters are at serious risk of brain injury and should not participate in the sport.

MMA Regulation within Illinois
In Illinois, MMA fighting is regulated by the Illinois State Athletic Commission. The organization has developed regulations for both amateur and professional matches within the state. The rules include weight categories for the fight matches and equipment standards. They also govern how the bouts are scored and what fighting actions are considered illegal. The regulations for professional fights include mandatory fitness determinations for participants. They must submit results of a physician’s examination, including blood work, EKG and MRI brain scan results. When these rules are not followed, and head injuries result, MMA officials may be criminally liable.

If you or a family member have recently suffered a brain injury, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

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