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Sports Health. 2019 May/Jun;11(3):280-285. doi: 10.1177/1941738119827966. Epub 2019 Feb 15.

Head Trauma Exposure in Mixed Martial Arts Varies According to Sex and Weight Class.

Follmer B1,2,3, Dellagrana RA1,4, Zehr EP2,3,5,6,7.

Author information

1
Biomechanics Laboratory, Center of Sports, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
2
School of Exercise Science, Physical, and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
3
Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
4
Faculty of Education, Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.
5
Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
6
Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
7
Human Discovery Science, International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Brain injury arising from head trauma is a major concern in mixed martial arts (MMA) because knockout (KO) and technical knockout (TKO) are frequent fight outcomes. Previous studies have shown a high incidence of matches ending due to strikes to the head but did not consider weight categories and female fights. This study aimed at analyzing match stoppages in MMA and the exposure to head trauma distinguished by sex and weight categories.

HYPOTHESIS:

The heavier the weight class, the greater the risk and incidence of head trauma will be, regardless of sex.

STUDY DESIGN:

Descriptive epidemiology study.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Level 3.

METHODS:

Publicly available data of 167 MMA events from 1903 fights between 2014 and 2017 were assessed, comprising 8 male and 2 female weight categories.

RESULTS:

The combined KO/TKO rates per 100 athlete-exposures in the middleweight (19.53), light heavyweight (20.8), and heavyweight (26.09) divisions were greater than previously reported for MMA. While stoppage via KO/TKO occurred in 7.9% of combats in the female strawweight division, it occurred in 52.1% of the male heavyweight fights. The male middleweight ( P = 0.001), light heavyweight ( P < 0.001), and heavyweight divisions ( P < 0.001) had an increased risk of KO/TKO due to strikes to the head by 80%, 100%, and 206%, respectively. The risk in the flyweight division decreased 62% ( P = 0.001). All categories were compared with the lightweight division. The female bantamweight category presented a 221% increased risk in matches ending due to KO/TKO compared with the strawweight division ( P = 0.012). Punches to the head were the major technique used to end a combat via KO/TKO, regardless of sex and weight class.

CONCLUSION:

Head injury risk and incidence varies considerably according to sex and weight category in MMA.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

The analysis of head trauma exposure in MMA athletes should be distinguished according to sex and weight category.

KEYWORDS:

brain concussion; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; combat sports; head injuries; traumatic brain injury

PMID:
30768376
PMCID:
PMC6537320
[Available on 2020-02-15]
DOI:
10.1177/1941738119827966
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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