How Exactly Does Striking “Impact” Fighters?

By | September 25, 2016

We have all seen fighters get bruised, bloodied and beaten in the octagon but how does striking affect them during and after the fight? It’s an age old but great question. The core of any fight, no matter how much time is spent on the ground, is striking. To make things even more complex, the strikes come in all forms and from all angles – jabs, punches, kicks, hammer fists, elbows, knees and more. So, how does all this add up and what does it add up to?
 
Recently, more emphasis has been put on striking in the UFC because the UFC knows that’s what the audience wants – more action. You see less strategic ground work and more slug fests these days. So, fighters are getting hit more and this is causing more damage, plain and simple. You can see the long term affects of enduring too many strikes by looking at boxers years after they are retired. Many of them are a shell, both physically and mentally, of what they used to be. Just look at the final years of Muhammad Ali’s life – it was hard to watch at many times. That being said, MMA allows a lot more breaks from being struck than boxing does where you just stand in the ring for twelve rounds and punch each other in the head over and over. Today’s biggest risk for MMA fighters are concussions especially if it becomes the norm and they begin not to notice the symptoms any more, the result can be potentially fatal.
 
On the other hand, a fighter could start to experience post concussion syndrome where all of the symptoms like dizziness, headaches and so on will seemingly never go away. These post concussion problems can manifest in even worse ways as well. Fighters can become susceptible to being knocked out much easier, they can lose their sharpness in basic functioning like speaking, and worst of all they can end up with CTE which is like Alzheimer’s but not treatable or detectable.
 
What preventative steps can be taken to ensure fighters don’t suffer these consequences during or after their career? The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one. The easiest one, and the most “pass the buck” type of solution, is to expect a higher standard of defense from fighters with less emphasis on getting into slugfests. Other solutions could include the future use of more protective gloves and even head gear – it may not look cool but it could potentially save lives.