02/16/16 by Matthew S. Vandriak
This week, the MMA world suffered a loss when former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman died at the age of 44. The cause of death for Randleman was announced as heart failure.
This comes two months after 21 year old Yang Jian Bing died trying to make weight for his fight. Last year it wasn't a death, but it was Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver who severely beat his girlfriend. In the last 9 years, 3 fighters have died from injuries sustained during fights. A study in 2014 stated that 1/3 of all professional MMA fights result in a concussion for one of the fighters involved. So are these all signs that some type of reform needs to occur in professional MMA?
Fans of MMA love it for a reason. It's hard hitting. It's violent. There are brain throttling knock outs. It's bloody. It's tough and nasty and it's popularity is off the charts. But in today's world of CTE and concussions and brain trauma and other professional sports working to make their games safer, can something be done to reduce these risks in MMA?
It's common sense that a person isn't meant to be repeatedly punched in the face or head. That being knocked out is going to have negative long term effects on human beings brain. It took years to link the damage repeated blows to the head in professional football caused for players after their careers were over. It's showing up more now in former NHL players, especially with a string of deaths of former players who made their careers as enforcers.
So if guys who were wearing helmets and engaging in maybe a 60 to 90 second fight on the ice are showing signs of CTE, what is happening to MMA fighters who are taking repeated blows to the head over 3 full rounds? Is the machismo of these guys in their late teens and early 20's overtaking the common sense that they may be mentally disabled or worse after their fighting careers are over?
Like I said above, MMA is popular because of the violence involved in it. It wouldn't have the same popularity if you had two guys going into the octagon wearing full head gear. So is there anything that can be done to make it safer? It's an issue that is going to have to be addressed soon. MMA is still in it's infancy. It has only gotten popular over the past 20 years. And the post career effects of professional cage fighting are just now starting to show. So is this just the tip of the iceberg?
MMA is a tough and dangerous game. The training regimen is brutal and takes its toll on the body. Fighters trying to make weight and fight in different classes takes its toll on the body. Being punched and kicked for a living takes its toll on the body. Repeated blows to the head obviously have long term effects.
I'm concerned that this is all just the start, and that the side effects of what an MMA career does to a person is just beginning to show.
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