This is a interesting article
MMAjunkie.com's medical consultant and columnist Dr. Johnny Benjamin, a veteran combat-sports specialist and a member of the Association of Boxing Commission's medical advisory team, this week takes a look at those issues in his latest "Ask the Doc" column.
As usual, the questions in his column came from the readers of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). If you have a question about fighter safety, injuries and illnesses related to combat sports, or simply want the doctor's opinion on another hot topic, be sure to submit your question to Dr. Benjamin at askthedoc [AT] mmajunkie.com.
Now, on to this week's topics.Q. Do you think the smaller gloves used in MMA have anything to do with the fact that there are far less serious injuries or deaths in MMA than there are in boxing?
(from Angry Fight Fan)
A. Thankfully, there are far fewer devastating, life-altering injuries and deaths associated with MMA as compared to professional boxing. Angry Fight Fan, you have certainly touched on part of the answer, but I believe that it is more than just a function of the gloves.
Remember, gloves are intended for the protection of the combatant throwing the punch -- not the recipient. The larger, better-padded boxing gloves are not intended to pad the blow for the person on the losing end of the proposition but to protect the hand of the "dispenser" of justice -- thus allowing more justice to be dispensed with less chance of injuring your weapon of choice.
More importantly, the differences in the rules better protect MMA athletes as compared to their professional-boxing peers. Generally speaking, when a mixed martial artist gets clipped and goes down for any significant period, the fight is immediately called by the referee (sometimes too quickly for my liking; watching a good beat down every now and then is good for the soul). This saves the fighter from potentially many more devastating blows. Contrast this with professional boxing. With the "no-three-knockdown rule" in effect, a fighter who doesn't know how to move his or her head can catch a bad one -- over and over and over again. As long as the fighter can get back to his feet within 10 seconds, make purposeful movements and follow the simplest of commands, a serious ass-whippin' awaits.
Sure, one punch can have horrible consequences, but more commonly, it is the accumulation of blows that takes its toll on a fighter's health.
Let's look at two examples:
* Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch at UFC 87 (which we can fairly call a 25-minute, mostly stand-up war): 68 vs. 55 total strikes landed
* Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor at the February 2008 HBO Boxing broadcast (12 rounds, 36 minutes): 267 to 168 total strikes landed
(In light of this subject, my prayers go out to the family of Sam Vasquez, and God rest his soul.)
Q. As a non-wrestler/non-fighter, I am wondering what "cutting weight" for a fight entails. Is this purely water loss (they always talk about sauna time), or is there something else? It seems like this would be devastating to your kidneys, among other organs. Are there any short-term health concerns for this practice, and more importantly, are there any long-term health risks associated with chronic weight cutting?
(from Chris in Louisville, Ky.)
A. Thanks Chris from Louisville. You're trying to get me crucified in the comments section and blogosphere with this one. Good looking out, my man!
In all sincerity, this is an excellent -- albeit controversial -- question. Athletes who routinely cut weight are already rolling their eyes and calling me a "nut hugger" (this one was new to me, but thanks guys for teaching it to me here). Although I am not completely sure of what a "nut hugger" is, I am absolutely certain that I am not one.
I preface my comments by stating that I make absolutely no character or value judgments about those adults who choose routinely to cut weight. What an adult does behind closed doors is not my concern unless it affects a child (or farm animal).
Throughout my athletic and professional life, I have seen many athletes on various levels safely cut weight. But like riding a motorcycle, every long-time cutter of weight has a story of an episode that wasn't so pretty -- an episode that he knows in his heart cost him.
Cutting serious weight (for the sake of argument, let's say greater than eight to 10 pounds) in 24-36 hours can be dangerous -- even if you've "done it a million times" and "know what you're doing." Cutting serious weight, in a short "before the weigh-in" time frame, is mainly a function of starvation and severe or total fluid restriction.
Starvation and severe fluid restriction are harsh conditions for the human body. Blood and plasma volume, cardiac output, sweating/heat tolerance, energy level, glycogen (fuel) stores in the liver and skeletal muscle, explosive quickness, and endurance are all negatively affected. (Not to mention your breath smells like ass and you're cantankerous as hell.)
We've all seen guys with a superior skill set and usually amazing cardio get dominated by a guy that isn't even in the same league. The excuse is usually that "I had a bad night" or "he got lucky" or "I had nothing in my tank and gassed." More times than not, the truth is, "I had to cut serious weight to get on the scale."
When cutting weight goes well, it's all wonderful. But when it goes wrong, you're lucky just to get defeated. History has shown that outcomes can range from poor performance to kidney failure and dialysis, and in rare cases even death. Please be careful if you, as an adult, choose to cut weight. And please, please never encourage or teach a kid how to cut weight -- whether you think it's the right or wrong way.Q. Did Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva take illegal steroids, or is there a reasonable explanation for his recent failed test?
A. Did he or didn't he take illegal/banned steroids? Hell if I know. But I will give an observation. Has anyone ever heard of a hormonal disorder called acromegaly, which is more commonly known as "gigantism?"
Acromegaly is a disorder of the pituitary gland in the brain that over-produces growth hormone. Common signs and symptoms (available at MayoClinic.com, just in case you don't believe me) include:
* Enlarged feet and hands (aka "Bigfoot")
* Coarsened enlarged jaw and facial features
* Deep, husky voice
* Barrel chest
* Enlarged organs including but not limited to heart, liver and spleen others
Now, I'm not offering an Internet diagnosis, but take a look at the picture. A simple blood test can answer this question and lead this young man to the proper treatment if indicated. Unfortunately, when untreated, it is associated with high blood pressure/stroke, organ damage (especially heart), diabetes and ultimately a shortened life expectancy. (Remember the professional wrestler Andre the Giant? He sure didn't last too long.)
Could acromegaly and an abnormal growth hormone level be a potential confounding variable in his failed test? I don't know, but I'm just saying..