Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact sport that can be intense and sometimes bloody. Fighters can suffer injuries both during training and during combat, making it almost as dangerous as any other all-contact sport. Injuries range from minor sprains to brain injuries, such as concussions. However, not all athletes will suffer a serious injury and precautions must be taken to avoid injury.
When it comes to minor injuries, MMA is more dangerous than boxing and kickboxing. The gloves are smaller than in boxing, so hand injuries are extremely common. Practically every joint in the body is at risk both during training and during competition. Recent research from the University of Alberta has found that MMA is not necessarily more dangerous than other contact sports, such as hockey and American football.
In fact, boxing presents a greater risk of serious injury than MMA. This was demonstrated recently when the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Commission did not authorize Alexander Gustafsson to fight just a few days before his confrontation with Gegard Mousasi at UFC on Fuel TV 9 due to a cut in his left eye he received while training. Although professional MMA fights can be dangerous, most recreational athletes should be able to participate in MMA without worrying too much about injuries. The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board established the Unified Mixed Martial Arts Rules that declared many of the most devastating blows illegal, such as kicking a downed opponent in the head.
Researchers at the Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of California reviewed data from a decade of medical tests performed after mixed martial arts and boxing matches and found that MMA fighters are at a slightly higher risk of suffering minor injuries. The UFC's rise to national fame ensures that mixed martial arts aren't going anywhere, despite detractors who say it is barbaric and dreadful and nothing more than amateur street fights. With proper safety precautions and knowledge of potential injuries, MMA can be enjoyed safely.