UFC Publishes 1st Official Concussion Protocol as Part of 484-Page Study

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 01: A general view of the Octagon prior to the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC published its first official protocol for returning to competition from concussions and traumatic brain injuries Tuesday.

According to ESPN's Marc Raimondi, the 484-page study is entitled "A Cross-Sectional Performance Analysis and Projection of the UFC Athlete," and it is available for download on the UFC Performance Institute's official website.

The study and protocols were based on concussion date collected between 2017 and 2019, per Raimondi, and it will be used as reference material for fighters and coaches.

The return-from-concussion protocol is a five-step process that largely mirrors the system the NFL has in place.

After fighters suffer head injuries, they will be required to have up to two days of rest before graduating to non-contact workouts and then completing a symptom questionnaire called the SCAT5.

Fighters can then move on to moderate-contact workouts as their symptoms improve, followed by a return to live sparring that slowly increases in terms of intensity and length after getting cleared by a doctor.

UFC vice president of performance Duncan French said the following regarding the new protocols:

"The goal is we really want to support the ongoing development and performance behaviors and activities in the MMA gyms in the combat community globally. We are slowly aggregating our own insights and our information here in the Performance Institute and we want to share that. We don't want the PI to become an ivory tower where the information is only retained for a discrete 600 roster of fighters."

Raimondi reported that UFC hopes the protocol becomes "standardized" within the world of MMA as a template to help fighters safely work their way back from head injuries.

UFC, which was founded in 1993, has developed into the preeminent MMA promotion in the world. It holds a media rights deal with ESPN and saw its ownership company, Endeavor Group Holdings, go public on the New York Stock Exchange last week.