San Francisco, CA-

In what will surely come as a surprise to boxing purists, a study of five years of Nevada Athletic Commission medical records has brought the medical world to say that MMA is safer than boxing! And before the so-called purists scoff at this conclusion, let me present the evidence that backs this up. The British Board of Sports Medicine studied 635 MMA fights that occurred in Nevada from 2002 to 2007. The following is taken from their recent released report.

PEOPLE GET HURT FIGHTING…PERIOD! , First of all, roughly only 25 % of MMA fights went the distance which in the UFC, the premier MMA brand, are 3 rounds for non-championship fights and 5 rounds for title fights. 35 % of the fights ended in submission, and 34 % ended with the referee halting the action. As for knockouts, only 3.3% of fights ended by KO. All that being said, overall 1 in 4 (25 %) of MMA participants during this five year period were injured in battle. And while these numbers sound alarming, they really arent.


It wasnt a shocker that those losing suffered more injuries than the winners, with victors injured roughly 15% of the time, while guys on the short end were hurt at double that rate, or 31%. Ringside Dr.s stopped 3% of the fights. Disqualifications totaled a mere .08%. Some other figures stated that 17% of the fighters were cut in matches, while eye injuries were rated at 5 Ω %. Facial injuries were involved in 10% of all injuries.


The real telling statistic put forth by the British Journal of Sports Medicine involved the injury most serious, the one that makes fighters stutter, stumble, and end up suffering what MDs call Pugilistic Dementia, Punch Drunk to the layman. While better than 10% of boxing matches involve severe concussions, the studys work that should send the boxing world stumbling, is that in five years of MMA fights in Nevada, only 1.5% of the combatants suffered severe concussions.


Besides boxers, NFL players like Steve Young, Troy Aikman and others suffered multiple concussions and brought about their early retirement. WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, who last July killed his wife and son, this before hanging himself at his home in an Atlanta, GA suburb, post mortem examinations revealed that Benoit had suffered so many severe and repetitive concussions, that his brain mirrored that of an old man with advanced Alzheimers Disease.


Time and again, youve seen boxers get dropped hard, sometimes with such force that hitting the deck is what wakes them up. Being neurologically short-circuited or concussed once is sufficient reason to stop a fight right then and there. Instead, more often than not, boxers are asked by referees, are you OK? Some of the good refs wont take the verbal assurances of a fighter and let a contest continue.


California referee Jon Schorle, himself a former amateur fighter, whose work has illustrated an uncanny ability to stop fights, both boxing and MMA, at the right time, will direct a fighter to take two steps towards him in order to try and determine whether the fighters head is scrambled. Retired Texas referee/judge Arlen Spider Bynum thinks that Schorles adroit ability to stop a fight is uncanny. There have been fights involving Schorle in which if he were to stop a fight one punch prior, or one punch later, Id have been pissed.


The fact that in boxing, fighters are allowed to take drubbings, sometimes round after round, for upwards of 10 or 12 rounds, is whats wrong with the game. To allow a fighter to endure repeated punishment for a prolonged period of time to me is barbaric. In order to reduce repetitive concussions, the mentality that drives the boxing game needs to be changed. The reason why MMA fighters suffer serious injuries far less than boxers, I believe, is that MMA referees are prone to jump in and stop a fight before a fighter is severely hurt. If only the vast majority of boxing referees could see the light.

Pedro Fernandez

Note: Mr. Fernandez is an award-winning writer, TV commentator, radio talk show host, former San Francisco Policeman and four-time Golden Gloves champion. Comments regarding this submission can be left below.

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