This last Tuesday, the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health held a press conference in Washington, DC to announce the launch of their study of the effects of head trauma in combat sports. During the presser, the Cleveland Clinic had the support of the UFC, Bellator, Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank Boxing, and Glory kickboxing. As hard as it is to believe that such rivals as UFC/Bellator and Golden Boy/Top Rank were on the stage together and that they are working together, the biggest surprise for me was to see Arizona Senator John McCain in support of MMA.
McCain was MMA’s worst enemy in the 90’s when he labeled the sport as “human cockfighting”. Albeit, there were not many rules in the game as it was still in its early stages. McCain’s words almost killed the sport when shortly after he made the comments, most states began to ban the sport. It wasn’t until “Big” John McCarthy began working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and they came up with unified rules and regulation.
Mixed Martial Arts has come a long way since those days and is now the fastest growing sport in the world. But along with popularity, comes the age old question; what long term effects does repeated head trauma have on the fighters. Cleveland Clinic will help answer that question.
According to Cleveland Clinic spokesman, the organizations will contribute financially as well as allow them to study their fighters. So far, the clinic has 450 fighters they will be studying. Most of them are mixed martial artists. What makes this different than other studies is that they are not only studying retired fighters, only 25 of the 450 fighters are retired. The Cleveland Clinic hopes to get the total number of study subjects to 650.
The goal of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is not only the treatment of neurological disease but total prevention. The results of the study will affect athletes, only in combat sports, but in all contact sports such as football, hockey, and believe it or not, soccer.