LONGEVITY IN COMBAT SPORTS: MMA VERSUS BOXING
Since the UFC pushes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) into the mainstream, an age old question remains: Is MMA safer then boxing? The major premise behind the debate has always been that unlike boxing, in MMA, there are more routes to success than hitting your opponent. Highlighting the apparent, you will find less painful paths to success, thus creating some reductions in MMA less damaging on a fighter’s body and brain. The Unified Rules of MMA make it possible for a MMA fighter to win a bout by judges’ choice or by possibly 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 bigger gloves implemented in MMA and the fact that the rules allowing for leg strikes and elbows. Therefore”it’s time” to have an in-depth appearance to either side of this debate. Before getting into the thick of this argument, I want to highlight one of the key reasons I chose to write this report. Shawn O’Sullivan, a retired boxer who I have met many occasions, resides in my mind. On paper, his life looks 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 consider O’Sullivan’s career marginally illustrious because 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 in round two the judges given that round to Tate. Upon going pro, he found himself quickly retired in 1988 with unsuccessful comebacks in both 1991 and 1997. Shawn’s overall listing of 23-5-0, with 16 knockouts handed him without accomplishing his dreams of competing in a world title bout. After four more fights in 1997, a neurologist refused to renew the license he needed to continue boxing because of brain injury that he saw during a CAT scan. Now, O’Sullivan is residing with the issues of brain damage, however, he does not regret his career in boxing. During my many conversations with O’Sullivan, he almost always slurred his speech and had difficulties recalling parts of his lifetime. Regrettably, his ability to share his story is all he has to show for his illustrious career. But, that is hindered because of the culmination of blows to the head that he suffered during his boxing career. O’Sullivan suffers from boxer’s dementia, commonly called being”punch drunk” brought about partially as a consequence of the fighting style and gruelling sparring sessions in the gym. If you’d like to find out exactly what I mean, take a few minutes and see his bout against Armando Martinez. What remains untold to most, and something which highlights the significance of the article is that O’Sullivan was pushed to boxing by his first trainer: his dad. Rumors are his dad was letting his son spar against heavyweights and much larger men as part of the everyday reality test for O’Sullivan. As parents, an individual may feel uncomfortable recommending your child partake in any battle sport out of this fear of the long-term consequences. So signing your child up to boxing or MMA training could become a question of which is safer? Is there a chance you could help select the lesser of 2 so-called evils. Until recently the entire argument behind MMA is safer then Boxing was completely 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 over a decade’s worth of medical exams from roughly 1,700 fighters in Edmonton, Canada. According to the study, Fifty-nine percent of MMA athletes lasted some kind of harm, compared to 50 per cent of boxers. However, boxers were more likely to eliminate consciousness in a bout: seven per cent versus four per cent 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 showed an MMA fighter suffered a traumatic brain injury at almost a third of professional bouts. It’s not my intention to cast doubt on the protection of a sport, nevertheless both boxing and MMA have experienced instances of fatalities which are well recorded. Lately a MMA fighter died due to complications reducing weight. John McCain, who once labeled the sport of MMA”human cockfighting,” sat ringside in the 1995 boxing departure of Jimmy Garcia. But, very few serious life threatening accidents in MMA come to mind because no one have happened on its primary stage. A fighter’s death inside the Octagon hasn’t occurred and it never will. But it’s something that 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 name of the struggle game whether it’s MMA or Boxing. That is where a fighter’s fanfare, bonus cash and constant hype derives. UFC President Dana White announced MMA the”safest sport in the world, fact.” The idea that MMA is the most popular sport in the entire world is crazy. Tennis, golf, track and field, swimming… Are all”safer” sports because they lack head injury all together and present little risk of passing. Touting up safety should come with a duty to fully study the ramifications of your game. The construction on what will be known as the UFC Athlete Health and Performance Center starts this soon and will take 15 weeks to finish. Next to health insurance for training accidents, this can be MMA’s next most significant step towards taking on more of a top role in sport safety. That said, Dana’s end game is that Scientific research will eventually brand MMA as a”safer” alternative for fight sport athletes when compared with boxing. But, it would just further the sport’s reverse relationship. As MMA increases in popularity, boxing’s visibility in the national consciousness continues to fall and it is simple to finger point. It also can not be stressed enough that the first generation of fighters are only getting out of the game over the last couple of years. Science has a remarkably small sample size to look at with respect to aging MMA fighters right now, although UFC originals such as Gary Goodridge are already feeling the effects. We probably still need a couple more”generations” of fighters to retire and grow older to have an actual sense of the effects of the sport 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 best of a sport that was still very much in the developmental stages. Fighters like George St Pierre, Demetrious Johnson and Ronda Rousey are not likely to face any longstanding consequences of brain injury primarily due to their runs of desire and their capacity to prevent substantial damage. Johnson recently stated on the Joe Rogan Expertise that”There’s not enough money in the world for me to risk brain damage.” Johnson, like many other fighters that are educated, understands that taking too much damage in his profession will harm his longevity both indoors and outside the sport, and that is why he is so aware of his safety in the Octagon. Maybe that’s the reason he’s never lost consciousness in the Octagon. In any scenario, it’s tough to use findings of yesteryear 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 examine the sport’s past, and rather on its present and foreseeable future. The debate as to which game is safer due to the glove size is moot. The quantity of punishment a fighter takes over their career is individualistic and highly determined by a fighter’s style. The main 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 utilize the bare minimum in hand defense. Any argument surrounding the fact that a hand will crack before the head is not exactly the most attractive strategy to advocate for a safer sport. The same holds for the standing eight count. Arguing that permitting a concussed fighter to keep at a struggle after being knocked down only furthers brain injury. In MMA we witness a whole lot follow up punches after a fighter is rendered unconscious — maybe equally damaging to allowing a fighter to continue after receiving devastating blows. There are many factors in determining the devastation of a landed punch–out of technique to timing, to whether or not the recipient saw the punch coming–that it would be virtually impossible to determine in a live match that glove size could have caused the maximum damage. What’s more, there are a number of different rules and elements that determining which sport is safer. The average period of a Boxing game is generally longer then that of an MMA fight. There are many variables that are individualistic into the fighter. I’d love to declare each game equally as harmful, but until additional research is completed, one can’t make such a statement with much assurance. The inherent risks in both sports are intrinsically connected. The capability of a fighter to achieve longevity in the game is more dependant on the abilities of the fighter themselves then their various sports parameters independently. Generalizing which is safer with no scientific proof to support such a claim remains a matter of opinion.
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