The topic of head injuries, which lead to concussions has been a hot topic in sports as of late–with most criticism falling on top U.S. sport, Football. With NFL athletes such as Dave Duerson and Andre Waters proving to have severe brain trauma in death, helping further research, they exposed the depth of severity in what is now called Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). With that news, understandably, critics have come to question the violence of the UFC as well. To this UFC president Dana White replied recently during the New Media Expo in Vegas:
“Concussion is a huge dilemma right now for the NFL. Here’s the difference between the UFC and the NFL as far as concussions are concerned. First of all, if you get a concussion, if you get knocked out or you get hurt whatsoever in the UFC, three months suspension. You are on suspension for three months and you cannot come back until you are cleared by a doctor. You can’t have any contact whatsoever. In the NFL, you’re not going to lose Tom Brady for three months, man. You lose Tom Brady for three months and your whole season is wiped out. So, the UFC, listen, we don’t hide from it, it’s a contact sport and that’s what these guys do, (is) much safer. In the 20-year history of the UFC, it will be 20-years in November, there has never been a death or a serious injury. Never been a death or serious injury in 20 years because we go above and beyond when it comes to the safety of these guys. When you know you have two healthy athletes getting ready to compete, they get the proper medical attention before and after, it’s the safest sport in the world, fact.”
Knock on wood. White is correct that the UFC has not suffered any deaths in the octagon, as the NFL has with Chuck Hughes. He is also correct that the statistics of head injuries in Football far exceed the head injuries suffered in a 15 minute MMA fight. With fighters only competing two to four times a year, to NFL players competing as much as 21 games in three months, it’s obvious who is at a higher risk. Question is, will that statistic ever matter to the viewers as the two sports go head to head on Fox over the next few years?