It seems to be an epidemic in Mixed Martial Arts right now, fighters getting injured and withdrawing from their scheduled fights. While some of the injuries are from fluke circumstances, the majority of them are coming from training. The phenomenon has been dubbed the “injury bug” and MMA has yet to figure out a vaccine or cure for it.
The damage from the injury bug has been massive, two events in the last 45 days have been canceled and another appears to be on life support. It’s an ongoing hot topic of discussion that isn’t going anywhere as the injuries continue to wreak havoc on a daily basis.
Everyone has their opinion on why all these injuries appear to be occurring more frequently, from training too hard to the ZUFFA instituted fighter insurance, but what do the fighters themselves think?
We asked a handful of fighters as well as an MMA promoter about the injury bug and you might be surprised by what they had to say below.
Efrain Escudero (Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner) Fighters train like they are fighting and when you train like that for (x) amount of weeks your body starts to wear down which is when you are most likely to hurt yourself. I had to pull out of my fight before because of a broken rib, that happen 3 weeks before a fight and that’s what happens to us fighters.
Charlie Brenneman (Former UFC welterweight): As random as it is, I really feel its chance. A combination of some freak accidents and the number of cards.
Stephen Bass (Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Fighter) I believe the increasing injury rate is due to the ever-increasing need to push the limits in training. Guys are going harder in the gym to keep up with the sport and talent level. Another huge factor in that are the training methods and trainers themselves, with more and more trainers coming into the sport from the martial arts side and strength and conditioning side it’s hard to tell who really knows what they’re doing and really, it’s still just a work in progress. The human body has limits and as fighters / athletes we have to test and push those limits in order to get to or stay on top.
I speak from personal experience on this topic going back to March ’10 when I was stronger and feeling better than ever only to suffer two hernias before I could put my new-found strength and endurance to the test. Then it was on to fight the battle of surgery, recovery and rehab. That being said, it has become increasingly important to balance the tasks of fight training between skill building, conditioning and live practice (sparring) in order to maximize the results.
Dave O’Donnell (UCMMA Founder, Promoter and CEO) At the middle of the year I thought it was only me that fighters were pulling out on but all around the world the same trend Is happening. To be a UFC fighter can be a life changing experience, but the wrong lose at the wrong time could mean it all ends very quickly. The prizes can be so big at the top end of the UFC that a loss could cost you a house so if you’re not at your very best don’t fight, don’t risk it.
It’s not just the fighter that takes the risk; it’s the manager, the trainer and the camp. Everyone will be giving advice and if you’re in doubt, don’t fight. Plus the training is getting harder, the sparring is getting harder and the weight cutting is getting bigger. I think in the process of cutting so much weight the fighters body is susceptible to injury.
In the old days most fighters would step in the cage with a slight injury, it was part of the game but not anymore. At UCMMA 29 I had 15 fighters pull out for one reason or another. It was my worst nightmare and as the fighters sell the tickets not the brand, I had to resell half the arena again. But as I’m sure Dana White will tell you, if it was that easy everyone would make it a success.
Give us your thoughts on the dreaded Injury Bug.