LONGEVITY IN COMBAT SPORTS: MMA VERSUS BOXING
As the UFC pushes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to the mainstream, an age old question remains: Is MMA safer then boxing? The main premise behind the debate has always been that unlike boxing, in MMA, there are more avenues to victory than striking your opponent. Highlighting the obvious, there are less painful routes to victory, thus creating some reductions in MMA less damaging on a fighter’s body and mind. The Unified Rules of MMA make it feasible for a MMA fighter to win a bout by judges’ choice or by maybe submitting their opponent. The resulting idea is that MMA athletes suffer fewer traumatic injuries and the chances are lessened that they might become jaded drunk. However, proponents of boxing are always quick to point out the smaller gloves employed in MMA and the fact that the rules allowing for leg elbows and strikes. Therefore”it is time” to take an in-depth look to both sides of the argument. Before getting into the thick of the debate, I’d like to highlight one of the key reasons I decided to write this article. Shawn O’Sullivan, a retired boxer who I have met many times, lives in my mind. On paper, his life seems like a success story. However the actual truth is that his boxing career killed his odds of having a successful life after his career was over. A brief documentary about his narrative can be found below.Many would believe O’Sullivan’s career marginally illustrious as he had been the 1981 World Amateur Champion, 1981 Canadian Athlete of the Year and 1984 Olympic Silver medalist at light middleweight. Also many believe his gold medal bout against Frank Tate very controversial as it appeared like the fix was in. Despite scoring two standing 8 counts at round two the judges given that around to Tate. Upon going expert, he found himself fast murdered in 1988 with failed comebacks in both 1991 and 1997. Shawn’s overall record of 23-5-0, with 16 knockouts passed him without reaching his dreams of competing in a world title bout. After four fights in 1997, a neurologist refused to renew the permit he had to continue boxing because of brain damage he saw during a CAT scan. Now, O’Sullivan is living with the issues of brain damage, but he does not regret his career in boxing. During my many discussions with O’Sullivan, he almost always slurred his speech also had problems recalling parts of his lifetime. Regrettably, his ability to share his story is all he has to show for his famous career. However, that is hindered because of the culmination of blows to the head that he endured during his boxing career. O’Sullivan suffers from boxer’s dementia, commonly known as being”punch drunk” caused partly as a consequence of the fighting style and gruelling sparring sessions at the gym. If you’d like to see what I mean, take a few minutes and see his bout against Armando Martinez. What remains untold to most, and something that highlights the relevance of the guide is that O’Sullivan was pushed to boxing by his first coach: his dad. Rumors are his dad was letting his son spar against heavyweights and much bigger guys as part of the daily reality check for O’Sullivan. As parents, an individual may feel uncomfortable advocating that your child partake in any battle sport out of the fear of the long term consequences. So signing your child up to either boxing or MMA training could become a question of which can be safer? Is there a chance you could help select the lesser of 2 so-called evils. Until recently the entire debate behind MMA is safer then Boxing was entirely theoretical. There continues to be small scientific facts and findings to support the claim. Most recently the University of Alberta’s Dr. Shelby Karpman headed a review of more than a decade’s worth of health care exams from approximately 1,700 fighters in Edmonton, Canada. According to the study, Fifty-nine per cent of MMA athletes sustained some kind of harm, compared to 50 per cent of boxers. However, fighters were likely to lose consciousness in a bout: seven per cent versus four percent for MMA fighters. Irrespective of the facts to as which game is safer, The Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban on both MMA and boxing. By highlighting a 2014 University of Toronto study revealed an MMA fighter suffered a traumatic brain injury in almost a third of professional bouts. It’s not my intention to cast doubt on the protection of a sport, however both boxing and MMA have experienced instances of deaths which are well recorded. Recently a MMA fighter died due to complications reducing weight. John McCain, who once labeled the game of MMA”human cockfighting,” sat ringside in the 1995 boxing death of Jimmy Garcia. But, very few serious life threatening injuries in MMA come to mind as none have happened on its main stage. A fighter’s passing within the Octagon hasn’t occurred and hopefully it never will. But it’s something which has to be in the back of everybody’s mind once we see fighters getting knocked out lifelessly. Rendering an opponent not just defenceless but unconscious remains to be the title of the struggle game if it’s MMA or Boxing. That’s where a fighter’s fanfare, bonus money and constant hype derives. UFC President Dana White announced MMA that the”safest sport in the world, fact.” The concept that MMA is the most popular sport in the world is crazy. Tennis, golf, track and field, swimming… are”safer” sports in that they lack head injury all together and pose little risk of death. Touting up security should include a duty to completely study the ramifications of your sport. The construction on what’s going to be called the UFC Athlete Health and Performance Center starts this shortly and will take 15 months to complete. Next to medical insurance for training accidents, this is MMA’s next most important step towards taking on more of a top role in sport safety. That said, Dana’s end game is that Scientific research will eventually develop MMA as a”safer” choice for fight sport athletes compared to boxing. However, it might just further the game’s reverse relationship. Since MMA increases in popularity, boxing’s visibility in the national consciousness continues to fall and it’s simple to finger stage. Additionally, it can not be stressed enough that the very first generation of fighters are only getting out of the game within the last few years. Science has an incredibly small sample dimension to check at with respect to aging MMA fighters at this time, though UFC originals like Gary Goodridge are already feeling the effects. We probably still need a few more”generations” of fighters to retire and grow old to have a true sense of the effects of the game on them since they age. And by that I mean boxers who have had to compete with other high level athletes, not fighters who were the very best of a game that was very much in the developmental phases. Fighters like George St Pierre, Demetrious Johnson and Ronda Rousey are unlikely to face any longstanding effects of brain trauma primarily due to their runs of desire as well as their ability to prevent significant harm. Johnson recently stated on the Joe Rogan Expertise that”There’s not enough money in the entire world for me to risk brain damage” Johnson, like many other educated fighters, knows that carrying too much damage in his career will hurt his longevity both indoors and outside the sport, and that is why he is so conscious of his safety in the Octagon. Maybe that’s the reason he’s never lost consciousness from the Octagon. Whatever the case, it’s difficult to use findings of the past to determine the safety of the game now. So much always changes within the sport of MMA that trying to compare between eras is basically the exact same in attempting to compare completely different sports. Perhaps then a much better approach is not to look at the game’s past, and instead on its present as time goes on. The argument as to which game is safer because of the glove size is moot. The amount of punishment a fighter takes over their livelihood is individualistic and highly determined by a fighter’s style. The most important selling point as to why MMA is safer than boxing is actually the glove size. The boxing glove was created to protect the hands, not the person being punched. However MMA practitioners argue that they use the bare minimum in hand protection. Any argument surrounding the fact that a hand will crack until the head is not exactly the most attractive approach to advocate for a safer game. The same holds for the standing eight count. Arguing that allowing a concussed fighter to continue at a fight after being pumped just furthers brain trauma. In MMA we witness that a whole lot follow up punches after a fighter is left unconscious — maybe equally damaging to allowing a fighter to continue after getting devastating blows. There are so many variables in determining the devastation of a landed punch–out of technique to timing, to whether or not the receiver saw the punch coming–which it would be almost impossible to determine at a live match which glove size could have caused the maximum harm. Furthermore, there are quite a few other rules and elements that determining which sport is safer. The average duration of a Boxing game is generally longer then that of an MMA fight. There are so many factors that are individualistic into the fighter. I’d like to announce each sport equally as dangerous, but until additional research is done, an individual can not make such a statement with much assurance. The inherent dangers in the sports are intrinsically connected. The ability of a fighter to achieve longevity in the sport is much more dependant on the abilities of the fighter themselves then their various sports parameters alone. Generalizing which is safer without the scientific proof to support such a claim remains to be a matter of opinion.
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