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LONGEVITY IN COMBAT SPORTS: MMA VERSUS BOXING

Renfrew

Since the UFC pushes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to the mainstream, an age old question remains: Is MMA safer then boxing? The major premise behind the argument has always been that unlike boxing, in MMA, there are more routes to victory compared to striking your opponent. Highlighting the obvious, there are less painful routes to victory, therefore making some losses in MMA less damaging on a fighter’s body and mind. The Unified Rules of MMA make it possible for an 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 odds are lessened they might become punch drunk. However, proponents of boxing are always quick to point out the smaller gloves implemented in MMA and the fact the rules allowing for leg strikes and elbows. Therefore”it’s time” to take an in-depth appearance to either side of this argument. Prior to getting into the thick of this argument, I’d like to highlight one of the key reasons I chose to write this article. Shawn O’Sullivan, a retired fighter that I’ve met many times, 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 about his story can be found below.Many would consider O’Sullivan’s career marginally illustrious as 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 was in. Despite scoring two standing 8 counts in around two the judges awarded that around to Tate. Upon going pro, he found himself quickly murdered in 1988 with unsuccessful comebacks in both 1991 and 1997. Shawn’s overall listing of 23-5-0, with 16 knockouts handed him without reaching his dreams of competing in a world title bout. Following four fights in 1997, a neurologist refused to renew the license he needed to continue boxing because of brain damage he saw during a CAT scan. Now, O’Sullivan is residing with the difficulties of brain damage, but he does not repent his career in boxing. During my many conversations with O’Sullivan, he practically always slurred his speech and had difficulties remembering parts of his lifetime. Sadly, his ability to talk about 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 he endured during his boxing career. O’Sullivan suffers from fighter’s dementia, commonly known as being”punch drunk” brought about partially as a result of his fighting style and gruelling sparring sessions at the gym. If you want to find out what I mean, take a few minutes and see his bout against Armando Martinez. What remains untold to many, and something which highlights the relevance of the article is that O’Sullivan was pushed into boxing by his first trainer: 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 recommending your child partake in any battle sport from the fear of the long-term consequences. Therefore signing up your child to either boxing or MMA training could become a question of which can be safer? Is there a possibility that you could help choose the lesser of two so-called evils. Until recently the entire argument behind MMA is safer then Boxing was entirely theoretical. There remains to be little 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 form of harm, compared to 50 per cent of boxers. However, fighters were likely to eliminate 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 showed an MMA fighter suffered a traumatic brain injury in nearly a third of specialist spells. It is not my intention to cast doubt onto the protection of a sport, nevertheless both boxing and MMA have experienced instances of fatalities that 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 death of Jimmy Garcia. However, very few severe life threatening accidents in MMA come to mind because none have happened on its main point. A fighter’s death inside the Octagon hasn’t happened and it never will. Nonetheless, 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 only defenceless but unconscious remains to be the name of the fight game if it be MMA or Boxing. That is where a fighter’s fanfare, bonus cash and constant hype derives. UFC President Dana White declared MMA that the”safest game in the world, fact.” The idea that MMA is the most popular sport in the world is mad. 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 safety should include a responsibility to completely study the ramifications of your game. The construction on what will be known as the UFC Athlete Health and Performance Center begins this shortly and will take 15 weeks to finish. Next to health insurance for training accidents, this can be MMA’s second most important step towards taking on more of a top role in sport security. With that said, Dana’s end game is that Scientific study will finally develop MMA as a”safer” alternative for fight sport athletes when compared with boxing. But, it would just further the game’s inverse relationship. As MMA increases in popularity, boxing’s visibility at the national consciousness continues to fall and it is simple to finger point. Additionally, it can’t be stressed enough that the very first generation of fighters are only getting out of this sport within the past few decades. Science has a remarkably small sample dimension to check at in terms of aging MMA fighters right now, though UFC originals such as Gary Goodridge are already feeling the consequences. We probably still require a couple more”generations” of fighters to retire and grow old to get an actual sense of the effects of the game on them as they age. And by that I mean boxers who have had to compete with other high level athletes, not boxers who had been the very best of a sport that was very much in the developmental stages. Fighters like George St Pierre, Demetrious Johnson and Ronda Rousey are not likely to deal with any longstanding effects of brain trauma primarily due to their runs of desire and their ability to avoid substantial harm. Johnson recently stated on the Joe Rogan Expertise that”There is not enough money in the world for me to risk brain damage” Johnson, like many other fighters that are educated, knows that taking too much harm in his profession will harm his longevity both inside and outside the game, and that is why he is so aware of his safety in the Octagon. Perhaps that’s the main reason why he’s never lost consciousness from the Octagon. In any scenario, it’s difficult to utilize findings of yesteryear to determine the security of the game today. So much constantly changes inside the sport of MMA that trying to compare between eras is basically the same in attempting to compare completely different sports. Perhaps then a better approach is not to examine the game’s past, and instead on its present as time goes on. The argument about which game is safer due to the glove size is moot. The amount of punishment a fighter takes over their livelihood is individualistic and highly dependent on a fighter’s style. The main selling point as to why MMA is safer than boxing is actually the glove size. The boxing glove has been created 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 head isn’t exactly the most appealing strategy to advocate for a safer game. The same holds for the standing eight count. Arguing that allowing a concussed fighter to keep in a fight after being pumped just furthers brain trauma. In MMA we witness a lot follow up punches after a fighter is rendered unconscious — possibly equally damaging to permitting a fighter to continue after receiving 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–that it would be virtually impossible to determine in a live match that glove size could have caused the most harm. Furthermore, there are quite a few other elements and rules that determining which game is safer. The average duration of a Boxing game is normally longer then that of an MMA fight. There are many variables that are individualistic into the fighter. I’d like to announce each sport equally as harmful, but until further research is done, an individual can not make such a statement with much confidence. The inherent dangers in both 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 their respective sports parameters independently. Generalizing which is safer without the scientific evidence to support such a claim remains to be a matter of opinion.
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