We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s serious problems with half the combat sports rules that haven’t been fleshed out over 100+ years of use in the boxing world. We talked about the issues with punches to the back of the head, but that’s just one of the many unclear rules which could potentially cause serious injury or death to an MMA participant. Another is spiking your opponent on their head.
The UFC website describes “Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck” as a “foul in a contest or exhibition of mixed martial arts and may result in penalties, at the discretion of the referee.” But we’ve seen exactly this kind of thing happen in the UFC several times and not once has it been called:
The argument being used to defend a lot of spiking is that the fighter getting spiked has the option of letting go of his opponent so he doesn’t end up neck first onto the mat. Not only is this often not true (fighters are often gripping arms holding each other in place) but it also doesn’t address the safety issue behind the rule: it’s way too dangerous to ever let this kind of thing happen.
It’s not only the person being taken for a ride that’s in danger. A Chicago fighter was paralyzed when he tried to spike his opponent off his back:
Dunbar was conscious when he arrived at the hospital but already had lost movement in his legs. He had only weak feeling in his arms. Tests showed he did not sustain serious head injuries but had dislocated two vertebrae — one forward, one backward — crushing his spinal cord.
“(It) was a complete injury from the very beginning,” said Mark Chwajol, the neurosurgeon who performed the seven-hour surgery on Dunbar.
Doctors told him he probably will never walk again. On Christmas Eve, one week after the fight, Dunbar’s lung collapsed, and he later underwent a tracheotomy. He is confined to his hospital bed and may never breathe without the aid of a ventilator. Chwajol said Dunbar will need months of rehabilitation before possibly regaining strength in his arms and fingers.
While the current spiking rules seem to cover situations like this, there needs to be a clear message and enforcement that you’re not allowed to slam someone headfirst into the mat if they’re on your back. Otherwise stuff like will happen again, possibly in the UFC. Spiking is too dangerous to ever be allowed.