The UFC, NFL and concussions

Dana White compares safety in the UFC with the NFL:

“Concussion is a huge dilemma right now for the NFL. Here’s the difference between the UFC and the NFL as far as concussions are concerned. First of all, if you get a concussion, if you get knocked out or you get hurt whatsoever in the UFC, three months suspension. You are on suspension for three months and you cannot come back until you are cleared by a doctor. You can’t have any contact whatsoever. In the NFL, you’re not going to lose Tom Brady for three months, man. You lose Tom Brady for three months and your whole season is wiped out. So, the UFC, listen, we don’t hide from it, it’s a contact sport and that’s what these guys do, (is) much safer. In the 20-year history of the UFC, it will be 20-years in November, there has never been a death or a serious injury. Never been a death or serious injury in 20 years because we go above and beyond when it comes to the safety of these guys. When you know you have two healthy athletes getting ready to compete, they get the proper medical attention before and after, it’s the safest sport in the world, fact.”

That all sounds well and good, but it’s an unspoken fact that many fighters are undoubtedly concussing the shit out of each other in practice on a regular basis. That doesn’t change the fact that being a UFC fighter is still easier on your brain than the NFL. Just check out this article on new technology inside mouthguards designed to measure the amount of force being delivered to footballers’ heads:

With the mouth guards there’s no hiding or lying about hits. The team wears the mouth guards at all games and practices so that researchers can generate a comprehensive database of every impact they sustain. The sensors measure linear and angular acceleration—how fast the head is moving in one direction and rotating. The sensors may sound high tech, but actually, you might have some in your pocket right now. They are the same ones used in the iPhone 5.

Camarillo says the mouth guards have already captured some startlingly hard hits, like the one that ended the season for a wide receiver. That collision registered an acceleration of 150 Gs, that’s 150 times the acceleration gravity. “Pretty serious business,” he says, “a standard boxing punch is probably between 10-20 Gs.

That’s just acceleration in one direction. The player’s head was also spinning at 2000 degrees per second—which means his head would have rotated five and a half times in one second if it weren’t anchored to the neck. While it has long been suspected that this kind of angular acceleration plays a role in concussions, Camarillo says no one has gathered data on it. What’s more disturbing is that angular acceleration has been completely ignored when it comes to football safety measures.

Whodathunk smashing headfirst into each other on a regular basis could be so bad for a person’s brain? Actually, that one is kinda obvious. How MMA manages to regularly separate a person from consciousness with brutal kicks, knees, fists, and elbows without similar brain damage is the real shocker. And one which may turn out not to be true after all.

Follow Fightlinker

Archives