Athletic commissions should consider adding a variation of boxing's famous "three-knockdown rule" to further guarantee the safety of MMA fighters.
One of the points used to argue that MMA is safer than boxing is that MMA fighters don't suffer repeated head trauma the way boxers do. Once a fighter is knocked down, he's either finished via ground and pound or the ref stops the fight. There's no getting up before the count of 10 only to take even more damage.
However, this talking point may not be as valid as it was once thought to be.
Fights like Jared Hamman vs. Michael Kuiper happened.
Kuiper beat Hamman from pillar to post throughout the eight or so minutes of their UFC 150 encounter, knocking Hamman down repeatedly and landing crushing blow after crushing blow.
This fight demonstrated why MMA might need a knockdown rule (maybe not three knockdowns since sometimes slips can happen and may wrongfully be counted as knockdowns, so maybe five knockdowns).
Such a fight was fun to watch, but it was hard not to feel bad for Hamman, a fighter who was taking a tremendous amount of punishment and was clearly only delaying the inevitable TKO each time he rose back to his feet to continue fighting (especially since Hamman tore his hamstring in the first round).
What was the point of him getting blasted over and over again? Sure, it's possible that he could've pulled off a comeback on the level Cheick Kongo vs. Pay Barry, but such miraculous events don't happen often in MMA.
Thus, it's sometimes better to err on the side of safety.
Just as the cage-side doctors are there to protect fighters from themselves and end a fight when a cut is too devastating, so too should a knockdown rule be there to protect fighters from their indomitable fighting spirit. For what good is their iron will when their brain has been reduced to a flaccid, grey blob capable of only the simplest thoughts?
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