Jordan Parsons – the Bellator fighter whose life was tragically taken by a hit-and-run driver in Florida earlier this year – is the first MMA fighter to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
As per the Boston Globe:
He was only 25, but Jordan Parsons was a cage fighter, a professional mixed martial artist who on his best nights beat his opponents into submission. On his worst nights, Parsons was sent spiraling to the canvas by devastating blows to his head.
Now, six months after he was struck and killed as a pedestrian by an alleged drunken driver, Parsons is the first fighter in the multibillion-dollar MMA industry to be publicly identified as having been diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The diagnosis was disclosed to the Globe by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who first discovered CTE in a professional football player (in 2003) and a professional wrestler (2007).
Thus far, CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem, meaning the sufferer must be dead to make the determination. Sadly, it seems that Parsons did indeed suffer.
Parsons, a former high school wrestler in Michigan, began competing in MMA events at age 17. He turned pro at 20 and soon captured the Championship Fighting Alliance’s featherweight title.
Then came medical trouble. After rolling undefeated through his first seven professional bouts, he lasted only 71 seconds in his eighth match, in 2012, before he was sent reeling to the mat by a knockout punch. A full year passed before Parsons fought again.
His mother, Anna Morsaw, sent a video of the knockout to Kyros, who procured Parsons’s brain for the autopsy. She also sent a video of Parsons’s final match, in 2015, in which he went wobbling to the canvas after a thunderous kick to his head.
It’s a rough sport, folks. A rough sport.