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Study claims that boxing poses greater risks of serious injury than MMA

That’s according to extensive research from the University of Alberta over a 10-year period.

Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler in action during their welterweight title bout at UFC 189 back in July.
Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler in action during their welterweight title bout at UFC 189 back in July.
Image: John Locher

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS may be ‘bloodier’ but you’re more likely to sustain a serious injury in boxing.

That’s according to research from the University of Alberta, based on a decade’s worth of post-fight medical examinations involving fighters from both sports.

The study — which was conducted by the University’s Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic — found that while MMA fighters experience a larger number of minor injuries, boxers ‘are more likely to experience serious harm from concussions and other head trauma, loss of consciousness, eye injuries, smashed noses and broken bones’.

The researchers reviewed post-fight records from 1,181 MMA fighters and 550 boxers, who competed in bouts in the Canadian city of Edmonton between 2003 and 2013.

The results of the study showed that 59.4% of MMA fighters suffered some form of injury in their bouts, compared to 49.8% of boxers. However, 7.1% of boxers experienced loss of consciousness or serious eye injuries, as opposed to 4.2% in MMA.

“Yes, you’re more likely to get injured if you’re participating in mixed martial arts, but the injury severity is less overall than boxing,” said Shelby Karpman, the study’s lead author and a sports medicine physician at the Glen Sather clinic.

“Most of the blood you see in mixed martial arts is from bloody noses or facial cuts; it doesn’t tend to be as severe but looks a lot worse than it actually is.”

According to the report, this research ‘offers a first-of-its-kind glimpse into the dangers of the two combative sports in Canada, and is the direct result of Karpman’s quarter-century of experience as a ringside physician conducting post-fight exams, which are mandatory in both sports’.

Karpman added: “I always say if you’re going to ban a sport, you need statistics. Just watching mixed martial arts twice on TV does not cut it. And even if you ban a sport, you’re not going to stop it. You’re just going to take it underground where they’re not going to receive medical care.”

Click here to read the University of Alberta’s report in full.

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Paul Dollery

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