MIXED MARTIAL ARTS INJURY STUDY: Lots of non-critical injuries

Here’s an abstract from a five year study (2002-2007) in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Interesting. To me, it doesn’t say there aren’t a lot of injuries—indeed, “300 of the 1,270 athletes sustained documented injuries”—it says MMA is on par with other combat sports.

Background: Professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition has emerged as a full contact sport that has risen rapidly in popularity. However, there is limited information regarding the incidence of competition injuries following sanctioning by an athletic commission.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study to examine MMA injury patterns during a five year period following sanctioning in the state of Nevada. Data from all regulated MMA competitions during the study period from March 2002 to September 2007 (n=1,270 fight exposures) was obtained. Injury odds ratios were calculated by conditional logistic regression on match outcome, age, weight and fight experience using a pair-matched case-control design (n=464) and by multiple logistic regression on match outcome, age, fight experience, weight, combat minutes, and scheduled rounds.

Results: During the 635 professional MMA matches, 300 of the 1,270 athletes sustained documented injuries with an injury rate of 23.6 per 100 fight participations. Most common reported injuries were lacerations and upper extremity injuries. Severe concussion rate was 16.5 per 1,000 athlete exposures, or 3.3% of all matches. No deaths or critical sports-related injuries resulted from any of the regulated matches during the study period. Age, weight, and fight experience did not statistically increase the likelihood of injuries after controlling for other covariates.

Conclusions: Injury rates in regulated professional MMA competition are similar to other combat sports; the overall risk of critical sports-related injury appears low. Additional study is warranted to achieve a better understanding of injury trends and ways to further lower injury risk in MMA.

The full article/study is here.

And, of course, long term effects. Interesting journey, this human experience.



2 Responses to “MIXED MARTIAL ARTS INJURY STUDY: Lots of non-critical injuries”

  1. I’m pretty sanguine about stuff like “lacerations/upper extremity” injuries (though the latter probably means some combo of soft-tissue damage and broken bones from submission holds taken all the way). There’s a sense that you can do a lot of damage to a person’s physical body without robbing them of their humanity. I don’t think that’s a poor intuition.

    More importantly, there’s lots of seemingly innocuous non-combat sports with relatively high injury rates, everything from Ultimate (frisbee; lots of strains and knee damage) to SCUBA/climbing, where a lot of the activity’s failure modes kill you, rather than injuring you.

  2. “There’s a sense that you can do a lot of damage to a person’s physical body without robbing them of their humanity.”

    Hey Ryan, I agree. And I am certainly not against the right of folks to get in a cage and fight if they want to—and get paid to boot. By definition, for so many humans, these engagements are highly compelling. And I agree also (if that’s what you’re suggesting), MMA must surely have more broken bones and torn ligaments than boxing—again, generally not life threatening or necessarily degrading.


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