According to new research from the University of Toronto (U of T) which was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, approximately one out of every three professional mixed martial arts contests ends in a technical knockout or knockout, and this makes the sport more dangerous than boxing when it comes to brain damage.

The U of T researchers examined 844 UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) contests that took place between 2006 and 2012 to come to their conclusion.

A total of 108 bouts (13 percent) ended in a knockout, while 179 of them (21 percent) ended in a technical knockout.

The research also showed the fighter who was stopped received between five to 10 blows to the head just before the bout was halted. Most of these head shots came during the 30 seconds before the fights were stopped.

UFC officials have stated that MMA bouts are safer than boxing because there are numerous regulations in place, such as combatants receiving mandatory suspensions if they suffer a concussion. They also point out that nobody has died from a UFC match while dozens of boxers have lost their lives over the years.

Lawrence Epstein, who is the UFC’s chief operating officer, said the U of T study was somewhat flawed, but didn’t say why.

Epstein said the UFC and Cleveland Clinic are doing their own research into brain trauma, and are being helped out by approximately 400 retired and active fighters.

The research will take into consideration the number of years a fighter has been active, the total number of bouts he’s been involved in and the number of contests per year. The study will also look at a fighter’s lifestyle, genetics and susceptibility to injury.

The U of T research said after a fighter was hit with a knockout blow, it took about 3.5 seconds for a referee to halt the bout and in that time the combatant received another 2.6 strikes to the head. In the 30 seconds preceding that, the loser was hit an average of 18.5 times and 92 percent of those shots were to the head.

The Toronto research also claims brain trauma in MMA is more prevalent than in football and ice hockey.

The researchers believe MMA bouts should follow boxing’s rule in which a 10-count is used when a fighter is sent to the canvas. This will allow the referee to evaluate the fighter to see if he’s in any shape to continue. They also believe MMA referees need more training to help them recognize when a fighter can no longer defend himself.

The U of T study states that the popularity of MMA competitions with younger athletes means we can expect to see higher rates of brain injuries at the amateur level, and all competitors should be aware of the risks they’re taking.

New York State is still holding out when it comes to legalizing UFC bouts, and this is frustrating the organization since it can’t hold cards at places such as Madison Square Garden.

With new studies revealing the dangers of the sport, it could be a long time before the government changes its stance on the matter.


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