The main difference between MMA versus its legal component martial systems appears to come down to two points:
- Smaller 4-6 ounce (1) gloves, and
- the ability of combatants to strike from the ground.
There is a huge misunderstanding of the role of gloves in combat sports. The primary function of the glove is to protect the fighter’s hands, NOT the head. There were far less punches to the head in the early days of bareknuckle boxing because of the risk of the fighter breaking their hands. Modern day boxing gloves (9-10 ounces)(2) protect the face from cuts but they actually increase the risk of brain damage because fighters can hit harder without risk of hurting their hands.(3) It can be argued that the smaller MMA gloves make MMA safer because fighters have to be careful of hitting too hard so as not to damage their hands.(4) This is particularly important because the MMA fighter will need finger dexterity in case the fight transitions to grappling.
Striking an opponent while he is on the ground has gotten a considerable amount of scrutiny because of the potential concussive danger from being hit and immediately banging one’s head on the floor. Coincidentally the creators of the UFC are the originators of an entire system devoted to effectively defending oneself from the ground strikes. There is no doubt that the ground and pound can be a dangerous place to be and the possibility of concussion is very real but is it any more dangerous than being hit while standing?(5)
The number of strikes that land flush on a trained opponent is hotly debated. Most fighters will agree that the ground and pound looks worse than the reality. Fighters also explain that the number of flush strikes is far less than strikes landed while standing. This is why many competitors go to the ground if they are outmatched during stand up. As yet, nothing has been shown proving that ground and pound posed an overwhelming risk to the fighter as compared to boxing or Thai boxing. The UFC has also worked to minimizing danger to participants fighting from the ground with stringent refereeing rules and striking restrictions. (6)(7) In fact, this is part of our main argument – that this sport NEEDS to be regulated as it is happening all over the country.
Without regulation, these safety rules and restrictions disappear.
On that note, the biggest danger in MMA in the current climate is when an untrained competitor steps into the ring with a seasoned and highly trained opponent. This mismatch usually happens when there is no sanctioning body.
This could be seen in the many underground matches throughout the US during the early days of both boxing and MMA and currently in states where MMA is not legal. There is simply no excuse for this.
– Akira Bryson
(4) See generally: Malcom Gladwell’s article Blowup, where he notes that with the advent of ABS braking systems in cars, more accidents occurred because “drivers used the additional element of safety to enable them to drive faster and more recklessly without increasing their risk of getting into an accident. As economists would say, they ‘consumed’ the risk reduction, they didn’t save it.”
(7) Three recent New York Times articles highlight the dangers of concussions in sports not traditionally thought of as traumatic to the brain:
- On ‘Punched Out’: Looking at Brain Trauma and Other Risks of Violent Sports
- Derek Boogaard: A Brain ‘Going Bad’
- How Dangerous is Heading a Soccer Ball?
Three things you can do right now to help change things:
- Sign our petition
- Write your district’s State Assemblyman and demand a vote; to find out who he or she is, simply click here and type in your address. You may use our petition as the basis of your letter if you wish.
- Write your district’s State Senator and demand a vote; to find out who he or she is, simply click here and type in your address. Again, you may use our petition as the basis of your letter if you wish.