Toronto | Boxing poses a greater risk of serious injury than mixed martial arts which has a reputation for being one of the most brutal and bloody of all contact sports, according to new research.
Researchers from the University of Alberta reviewed a decade’s worth of data from medical examinations following mixed martial arts and boxing matches and found that mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters face a slightly higher risk of minor injuries.
Boxers, however, are more likely to experience serious harm from concussions and other head trauma, loss of consciousness, eye injuries, smashed noses and broken bones.
Yes, you are more likely to get injured if you’re participating in mixed martial arts, but the injury severity is less overall than boxing, said lead author Shelby
Karpman, a sports medicine physician at U of A’s Glen Sather clinic. Most of the blood you see in mixed martial arts is from bloody noses or facial cuts; it doesn’t tend to be as severe but looks a lot worse than it actually is, said Karpman. In the study, Karpman and colleagues reviewed post-fight records from 1,181 MMA fighters and 550 boxers who fought matches in Edmonton between 2003 and 2013.
They found that 59.4 per cent of MMA fighters suffered some form of injury in their bouts – significantly higher than the injury rate of 49.8 per cent for boxers. Most of these injuries were bruises and contusions.
But boxers were more likely to experience loss of consciousness during the bout (7.1 per cent compared with 4.2 per cent for MMA fighters) or serious eye injuries. Boxers were also significantly more likely to receive medical suspensions due to injuries suffered during bouts.
Karpman said there is risk in any contact sport but that MMA, more than any other, faces a stigma from the medical community from physicians who see the sport as ultra-bloody and violent.
As a result, fighters have become an undertreated athletic population, and these research results should help them understand the risks of climbing into the ring, he said.
These guys do not get the respect they deserve for what they’re doing or the medical treatment because the medical community doesn’t want to deal with such a bloody sport with head injuries and concussions, Karpman said.
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