In what would turn out to be an especially bloody night for some fighters, it marked another great night of fights in the UFC. Ironically, it was actually one of the prelims that had many fans cringing.
In the lightweight showdown between Matt Wiman and T.J. Grant, we saw Grant finish Wiman in an impressive, albeit bloody fashion. There was one combo, especially, that had Wiman hurt, and that had Grant looking to finish up the fight early.
While Wiman had escaped the grips of defeat, he was cut open in the process. This prompted Grant to follow up with several elbows to the face of Wiman. After a flurry of devastating elbows, Wiman was knocked down, and Grant pounced on his bloody adversary.
After Wiman couldn’t defend against Grant’s ground-and-pound anymore, the referee stopped the match. While Wiman was a bloody mess, he wasn’t showing many, if any signs of being concussed.
One of the main concerns in sports today is the safety of the athletes. One week ago, we saw Ravens safety Bernard Pollard lay a bone-crushing, helmet-to-helmet hit on Patriots running back Stevan Ridley.
Now, the NFL is largely considered to be one of the safer contact sports in the world, especially when compared to MMA, but is it really? Sure, we have seen many calamitous injuries in MMA, but we have also seen many of the same type of injuries in the NFL.
So why is it that MMA catches a bad rep for being dangerous, and even barbaric? It is no secret that the NFL is trying to make the game safer for players, but is it really a safer sport? While MMA may seem more gruesome because of the gore and blood that goes along with being a fighter, it seems as though the NFL has many more career-ending injuries—and more often.
Yes, it is certainly not rare to see some guys walk away from a fight concussed, but recently, it seems as if it’s the NFL’s players who have been having more concussions. I believe that the chance to get seriously hurt in either of these sports is a lot more equal than people may think.
Take the fight between Erik Koch and Ricardo Lamas for example. Lamas brutalized Koch in what would turn out to be the bloodiest fight UFC fans have seen in awhile. After a subtle exchange between the fighters in the opening minutes, Lamas picked up the pace and landed some huge shots on Koch before eventually taking the fight to the ground.
Once on the ground, Lamas took top position and started raining down shot after shot, elbow after elbow. After a thunderous barrage of strikes, the referee stopped the fight, but it wasn’t before Koch had been busted wide open. While Koch was bloodied and hurt at the time, there has since been no reports that he had suffered a concussion or any serious head damage.
Perhaps, the reason why fighters don’t sustain as many head injuries as people would think is because of the team of doctors helping out each fighter before and after their fights. In the NFL, each club has a team doctor, but players have sometimes hid the fact that they are concussed in order to stay on the field or may not even realize they have suffered a concussion.
Troy Polamalu is one NFL player who has personally come out and said that he has lied to team doctors in order to stay in the game (via an interview with the Dan Patrick Show, h/t Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News). While it may not be the smartest idea in the world, it is a great display of heart, but at what cost? Polamalu said he had sustained “eight or nine” concussions in his career with the Steelers.
These guys know that it is their jobs to go out on the field and play, but surely, it is not worth risking their health in the long run. The NFLPA has come out and said that they want concussion experts. Sometimes, a player may not even realize he has suffered a concussion, and if he goes out again and takes another shot to the head, he could be in some serious danger.
By bringing in concussion specialists, this would eliminate any doubt and would also bolster a more health-conscious sport. No one wants to see a guy’s career end early due to injury. It’s interesting that the sport many people consider to be the most dangerous is actually one of the most health-conscious franchises in the world.
Maybe the NFL could learn something from MMA.