The injury bug struck again last week, and struck hard, taking out the highly awaited UFC 170 co main event, a pivotal light heavyweight bout between Daniel Cormier and Rashad Evans. With Evans suffering a knee injury which takes him out for four weeks, Cormier has received a replacement that is unproven and is trash talking to sell the fight. We know little about Cormier’s opponent, Patrick Cummins, but one thing is for sure – he is nowhere near the calibre of Rashad Evans.
With feed-‘em fights now becoming a tradition when injuries are suffered, this is a worrying trend for fans who have bought tickets to watch big names and are left with an unproven and inactive replacement. Patrick Cummins is 4-0 and his last win was over 5-15 Willie Smalls in May, but he has only fought twice since February 2012. Rashad Evans, meanwhile, is 19-3-1 with a 14-3-1 record inside the Octagon. Bit of a difference, huh? And if you need any further examples of this trend occurring, just look at Erick Silva’s fight with Takenori Sato at UFC Fight Night 36 last weekend.
This Evans injury added to a plethora of blows that made the UFC 170 card go from stacked to a sub-par pay per view, with Bryan Caraway, Lucas Martins, Rustam Khabilov and Francisco Rivera all suffering injuries. The former two of the four mentioned fighters were scheduled to face each other, with the replacement fight being between two UFC newcomers in Aljamain Sterling and Cody Gibson, while Khabilov’s fight with Rafael Dos Anjos was cancelled altogether and Rivera was replaced by a UFC newcomer for his pivotal bantamweight clash with Raphael Assuncao, who will now face Pedro Munhoz.
Now this got me thinking about why the men in mixed martial arts suffer more injuries and are taken out of bouts regularly, whereas the female athletes in our sport rarely do? And, when putting some thought into it, there is a pretty logical reason why.
Out of the 101 injuries that resulted in bouts being scratched or were suffered inside the Octagon, just three were female fighters. Granted, there is nowhere near the same quantity of women as there are men on the roster, but compared to, say, the amount of flyweight fighters who suffered injuries – six – this says it all. I compare the flyweights on this instance as it is a lighter division with a similar amount of fighters to the women’s 135lbs division (which also suffered several cuts after TUF 18).
Julianna Pena recently suffered a horrific injury which has left her sidelined for up to 2 years and took her out of the bout with Jessica Andrade, but teammates declare that it was a freak accident. This is a similar instance to Cat Zingano, who also suffered a knee injury which was not as a result of overtraining.
So why do I think the men of this sport are injured more often than the women? Bigger weight cuts. It’s simple. There must be a direct correlation between the big weight cuts certain male MMA fighters have to make in order to compete, while the likes of Frankie Edgar and Anderson Silva are rarely injured leading up to a fight. I believe that bigger weight cuts mean harder training, which means more likelihood of getting injured. Though injuries would still happen, one solution is to implement same day weigh-ins which prevent fighters from making such extortionate weight cuts.
With Lucas Martins being injured in preparation for his last two scheduled fights and claiming that he cuts as much as 30lbs, surely this proves a point. Derek Brunson has also recently claimed that he gassed in his fight with Yoel Romero as he had to use water rather than his usual IV as a way of re-hydrating. When you have to use an IV due to a heavy weight cut, it is simply too dangerous.
I’m tired of seeing UFC newcomers fighting UFC veterans at short notice, I want to see competitive fights on the main card. Injuries happen in sport, but when there happen at such a rapid rate as in MMA, something needs to change.
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