Earlier today, FanSided revealed a recent study conducted by University of Toronto researchers that estimates that brain trauma occurs in nearly 30%, or one third, of MMA bouts. As we have seen in other sports, studies like these can potentially lead to rapid and swooping changes in the sport.
The question now becomes, what changes, if any, will be made to the sport of MMA during the fall out of this recent study? Obviously, with the brunt of the damage occurring to the head, the most obvious answer would be requiring fighters to wear a helmet inside the cage. Fighters often train with helmets, but are not allowed to wear any protective gear inside the Octagon other than a cup and gloves.
Among the hurdles for implementing a helmet into sanctioned MMA events is the commissions. The commissions would have to either accept or deny helmets and would likely have to reconfigure certain rules to do so. Another issue would be determining whether or not helmets actually deter traumatic brain injuries. As we have seen in the NFL, a concussion can still occur with a helmet, but they certainly reduce the damage.
It will be interesting to hear the UFC’s comment on the new study in the coming days. In all likelihood, helmets will not be integrated into the UFC, but it is too early to speculate. FanSided will keep you updated as this story develops.