Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones connects on a kick against Alexander Gustafsson (left) during their Light Heavyweight Championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Study states that brain trauma occurs in 30 percent of MMA fights

All combat sports are inherently dangerous. Each time a man or woman steps into a cage, ring, or Octagon, they know that they are putting their lives on the line. A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine estimates that brain trauma occurs in nearly 30% of MMA bouts.

The researchers at the University of Toronto used fight results from the UFC spanning 2006 to 2012 as their sample. According to, here are some of the findings from the research:

  • Average time between the KO-strike and match stoppage was 3.5 seconds, with losers sustaining an average of 2.6 additional strikes to the head.
  • For TKOs secondary to strikes, in the 30-second interval immediately preceding match stoppage, losers sustained, on average, 18.5 strikes, with 92.3% of these being strikes to the head.
  • Rates of KOs and TKOs in MMA are higher than previously reported rates in other combative and contact sports.

Along with the above information was this diagram detailing some of the research findings:



Concussion and brain trauma are big issues in other contact sports, and according to this study, the chance for a traumatic brain injury is far more common in MMA than other sports like hockey, football, and boxing.

Read the entire study here. Could studies like this in the future lead to the development of helmets in MMA, or is the risk associated with MMA a choice by the fighters themselves? FanSided will keep you updated when any new information is made available.

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Tags: Alexander Gustafsson Concussions Jon Jones MMA TBI UFC

  • Phil Michel P

    I disagree with the claim of this study.

    First of all, the researchers are not basing any of their study of any diagonsis of brain trauma in fighters. They are merely looking at the number of KOs and TKOs recorded among fights and are assuming these KOs and TKOs are representative of possible brain trauma. In other words, while there are clearly concussions in MMA, there is no bonafide proof that these numbers purely indicate concussions.

    Secondly, while a lot of KOs or multiple head shots may cause brain trauma, I do not believe that all TKOs are created equal. If you speak to anyone that watches MMA, they will tell you TKOs come in a variety of ways the most common ones coming due to a fighter simply not intelligently defending themselves due to poor positioning or exhaustion. Anyone who’s fought before knows that it doesn’t take a concussion to not intelligently defend yourself. Punches to the face hurt. Plain and simple.

    Thirdly, (and this is simply more of a comparison to boxing) lets remind each other of what happens when you get knocked down in boxing. If you recieve a big hit, you fall down and the referee gives you 10 seconds to get back up. If a fighter gets backup, does that mean they have physically recovered? No! It means they were still capable of getting up. What happens then? They ride the rest of the fight risking another serious shot to the head and so on and so forth. If the fight ends with both fighters standing does that mean no one recieve any brain trauma? Of course not. On the flipside, in MMA, you get hit, you fall down, the fight either continues on the ground or the referee stops the fight because you’re not intelligently defending yourself. In other words, in MMA fighters don’t get the same chance to get back up after sustaining a concussing blow. Besides, the shots MMA fighters recieve while on the ground are usually nowhere near the type of haymakers the fighters recieve while standing.

    In conclusion, I don’t believe that this study is accurate. None of this research is based on medical evidence of concussions, the numbers don’t factor in the variety of ways TKOs come about and finally, to state that boxing is a safer sport demonstrates a lack of education and awareness of how MMA is played. While we all understand that all combat sports pose an inherent risk, I hope that athletic commissions will dismiss these claims. Looking at you Nevada.