LONGEVITY IN COMBAT SPORTS: MMA VERSUS BOXING

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As the UFC pushes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to the mainstream, an age old question remains: Why Is MMA safer then boxing? The main premise behind the argument has always been that unlike boxing, in MMA, there are more routes to victory than hitting your opponent. Highlighting the obvious, you will find less debilitating paths to success, thus creating some reductions in MMA less detrimental on a fighter’s body and brain. 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 notion is that MMA athletes suffer fewer traumatic injuries and the chances are lessened they might become punch drunk. But, proponents of boxing are always quick to point out the bigger gloves implemented in MMA and the fact that the rules allowing for leg elbows and strikes. Therefore”it’s time” to have a comprehensive appearance to both sides of the argument. Before getting into the thick of the argument, I want to highlight one of the important reasons I decided to write this article. Shawn O’Sullivan, a retired boxer who I have met many occasions, lives in my hometown. 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 finished. A brief documentary on his story can be found below.Many would consider O’Sullivan’s career somewhat illustrious because he was 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 seemed like the fix has been in. Despite scoring two standing 8 counts in round two the judges awarded that around to Tate. Upon going pro, he found himself quickly murdered in 1988 with failed comebacks in both 1991 and 1997. Shawn’s overall record of 23-5-0, together with 16 knockouts handed him without reaching his dreams of competing in a world title bout. Following 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 difficulties of brain damage, but he does not regret his career in boxing. Throughout my many discussions with O’Sullivan, he practically always slurred his speech also had problems remembering parts of his lifetime. Sadly, his ability to talk about his story is all he has to show for his illustrious career. However, that is hindered as a result of the culmination of blows to the head he suffered during his boxing career. O’Sullivan suffers from boxer’s dementia, commonly called being”punch drunk” brought about partly as a result of the fighting style and gruelling sparring sessions at the gym. If you’d like to see exactly what I mean, take a few minutes and watch his bout against Armando Martinez. What remains untold to most, and something that highlights the relevance of the article is that O’Sullivan was pushed into boxing with his first coach: his dad. Rumors are his father was allowing his son spar against heavyweights and even bigger men as part of the everyday reality test for O’Sullivan. As parents, one may feel uncomfortable advocating your child partake in any battle sport from the fear of their long-term consequences. Therefore signing up your child to either boxing or MMA training could become a question of which is safer? Is there a possibility you could help choose the lesser of 2 so-called evils. Until recently the whole debate behind MMA is safer then Boxing was completely theoretical. There remains to be little scientific facts and findings to support the claim. The University of Alberta’s Dr. Shelby Karpman led a review of more than a decade’s worth of medical exams from approximately 1,700 fighters in Edmonton, Canada. According to the study, Fifty-nine per cent of MMA athletes lasted some kind of injury, compared to 50 per cent of fighters. But, boxers were more likely to eliminate consciousness during a bout: seven per cent versus four percent for MMA fighters. Regardless 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 at nearly a third of specialist spells. It’s not my intention to cast doubt on the safety of a game, nevertheless both boxing and MMA have experienced cases of deaths which are well documented. Lately a MMA fighter died due to complications cutting weight. John McCain, who once labeled the game of MMA”human cockfighting,” sat ringside in the 1995 boxing departure of Jimmy Garcia. But, very few severe life threatening injuries in MMA come into mind as no one have occurred on its primary point. A fighter’s passing within the Octagon has never happened and hopefully it never will. But it’s something which has to be in the back of everyone’s mind when we see fighters getting knocked out lifelessly. Rendering an opponent not only defenceless but unconscious remains to be the name of the fight game whether it be MMA or Boxing. That is where a fighter’s fanfare, bonus cash and continuous hype derives. UFC President Dana White announced MMA the”safest sport in the world, fact.” The idea that MMA is the safest sport in the entire world is mad. Tennis, golf, track and field, swimming… Are all”safer” sports in that they lack head trauma all together and pose little risk of death. Touting up safety should come with a responsibility to fully study the ramifications of your sport. The construction on what’s going to be called the UFC Athlete Health and Performance Center begins this shortly and will take 15 weeks to finish. Alongside medical insurance for training accidents, this is MMA’s second most important step towards taking on more of a leading role in sport safety. With that said, Dana’s end game is that Scientific study will finally brand MMA as a”safer” choice for battle sport athletes when compared with boxing. But, it would just further the sport’s reverse relationship. Since MMA increases in popularity, boxing’s visibility in the national consciousness continues to fall and it’s easy to finger point. It also can not be stressed enough the very first generation of fighters are only getting out of this game over the past couple of years. Science has an incredibly small sample dimension to check at with respect to aging MMA fighters right now, though UFC originals like Gary Goodridge are already feeling the consequences. We probably still need a couple more”generations” of fighters to retire and grow older to have an actual feel for the effects of the sport on them since they age. And by that I mean fighters that have had to compete with other high level athletes, not fighters who had been the best of a game that was very much in the developmental stages. Fighters like George St Pierre, Demetrious Johnson and Ronda Rousey are unlikely to face any longstanding consequences of brain injury primarily because of their runs of dominance and their ability to prevent substantial harm. Johnson recently stated on the Joe Rogan Experience that”There is 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 harm his longevity both inside and outside the game, and that is why he is so conscious of his safety in the Octagon. Perhaps that’s the reason he’s never lost consciousness from the Octagon. In any case, it’s tough to utilize findings of the past to determine the security of the sport today. So much constantly changes within the sport of MMA that trying to compare between eras is essentially the exact same in attempting to compare completely different sports. Maybe then a much better approach is not to look at the game’s past, and instead on its current and foreseeable future. The debate about which game is safer because of the glove size is moot. The quantity of punishment a fighter takes over their career is individualistic and highly dependent on a fighter’s style. The most important selling point as to why MMA is safer than boxing is truly the glove size. The boxing glove was made to protect the hands, not the individual being punched. However MMA professionals assert that they use the bare minimum in hand defense. Any debate surrounding the fact that a hand will break before the mind is not the most appealing strategy to advocate for a safer sport. The same holds for the standing eight count. Arguing that permitting a concussed fighter to continue at a struggle after being knocked down just furthers brain injury. In MMA we witness that a lot follow up punches following a fighter is left unconscious — possibly equally damaging to allowing a boxer to continue after receiving devastating blows. There are so many variables in determining the devastation of a landed punch–from technique to timing, to whether or not the receiver saw the punch coming–that it would be almost impossible to determine at a live match which glove size would have caused the maximum damage. Furthermore, there are quite a few other elements and rules that deciding on which game is safer. The normal period 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 love to declare each game equally as dangerous, but until additional research is done, an individual can’t make such a statement with much assurance. The inherent dangers in both sports are intrinsically connected. The ability of a fighter to achieve longevity in the game is more dependant on the skills of this fighter themselves their various sports parameters alone. Generalizing which is safer without the scientific proof to support such a claim remains a matter of opinion.
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