Coping with and Preventing Injuries in MMA – High Price of Glory

April 19, 2023
From: Spartacus
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In MMA, injuries are a common occurrence due to the high-impact nature of the sport. MMA athletes are subjected to a wide range of physical trauma, including strikes, grappling, and submission holds. These types of physical contact can result in various types of injuries, ranging from minor bruises and cuts to more severe injuries such as fractures, dislocations, and concussions.

If you are a fan of MMA or maybe even a fighter yourself? If so, you probably already know that injuries are a common occurrence in this exciting and dynamic sport. But have you ever stopped to think about how these injuries can impact the careers of MMA fighters? That’s exactly what we’ll be exploring in this article.

This article aims to provide an in-depth look at the impact of injuries on the careers of MMA fighters. We’ll be discussing the different types of injuries that are common in MMA, the short-term and long-term effects of these injuries, and the various ways in which fighters can cope with and prevent injuries.

Types of Injuries in MMA

In MMA, fighters are subjected to a wide range of physical trauma, which can result in various types of injuries. Here are some of the most common injuries in MMA:

  • Cuts and bruises – These are the most common injuries in MMA, and occur as a result of strikes to the face or body. While they are usually minor, they can sometimes be severe enough to stop a fight.
  • Fractures – Fractures are breaks in bones and can occur from the impact of strikes or from grappling techniques. The most common bones that are fractured in MMA are the hands, fingers, feet, and nose.
  • Dislocations – A dislocation occurs when a bone is pushed out of its joint. This can happen when a fighter is put in a submission hold or falls awkwardly during a takedown.
  • Concussions – A concussion is a type of brain injury that occurs when the brain is shaken inside the skull. This can happen when a fighter receives a blow to the head, either from a strike or from hitting the mat.
  • Sprains and strains – Sprains and strains are injuries to ligaments and muscles, respectively, and are common in MMA due to the intense physical activity required by the sport.
  • Tendonitis – Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons and can occur from overuse of a particular muscle group.
  • Neck and back injuries – Neck and back injuries can occur from grappling techniques, throws, and slams.
  • Eye injuries – Eye injuries can occur from eye pokes, accidental or intentional, and can sometimes be serious enough to end a fight.

The types of injuries that occur in MMA are varied and can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries such as fractures and concussions. It is important for fighters to take measures to prevent and properly treat injuries in order to avoid short-term and long-term effects on their careers.

Causes of injuries in MMA

Injuries are a common occurrence in MMA, and can be caused by a variety of factors. One of the primary causes of injuries in MMA is striking. Techniques such as punches, kicks, knees, and elbows can cause significant trauma to the body, leading to injuries such as cuts, bruises, and fractures. Grappling techniques such as throws, chokes, and joint locks can also lead to injuries, particularly if the fighter is not properly trained or if they resist or struggle while in a submission hold.

Overtraining is another cause of injuries in MMA. The intense physical activity required for MMA training can lead to overuse injuries such as strains, sprains, and tendonitis. Fighters who do not allow themselves sufficient rest and recovery time are at increased risk of these types of injuries.

Weight cutting is also a common practice in MMA, and can contribute to injuries. Rapid weight loss through dehydration and extreme dieting can weaken muscles, decrease mental alertness, and increase the risk of injury during fights.

Finally, the lack of protective equipment in MMA can also contribute to injuries. Unlike other combat sports such as boxing or Muay Thai, MMA fighters are not required to wear headgear or gloves that offer as much protection. This means that fighters are more susceptible to cuts, concussions, and other types of injuries.

mma injury

The Impact of Injuries on MMA Careers

Injuries in MMA can have a detrimental impact on the careers of fighters, affecting their financial stability, psychological wellbeing, performance, and long-term health. MMA athletes often rely on prize money, sponsorships, and endorsements to make a living, and injuries can result in missed fights and lost income. Even seemingly minor injuries can prevent fighters from training and competing at their best, which can lead to reduced income and fewer opportunities for future fights. Moreover, injuries can also result in increased medical expenses, which can further strain a fighter’s finances.

Apart from the financial aspect, injuries can also affect a fighter’s mental health. MMA is a physically and mentally demanding sport that requires fighters to be mentally tough and resilient. Injuries can be a significant blow to a fighter’s confidence, leading to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and even depression. Moreover, the fear of reinjury can prevent fighters from fully committing to their training and competing at their best, which can potentially lead to a decline in performance.

Injuries can also have a significant impact on a fighter’s performance. Limitations in mobility, strength, and endurance can affect their ability to train and compete at their highest level. Fighters who are unable to perform at their best due to injuries may be at a disadvantage in the ring, leading to losses and missed opportunities for future fights. Injuries can also affect a fighter’s game plan, forcing them to alter their style or tactics, which can lead to a suboptimal performance.

Finally, injuries can have long-term effects on an athlete’s career. Repeated injuries can lead to chronic pain, decreased mobility, and other long-term health issues, which can ultimately result in early retirement or a decline in performance. The physical toll of injuries can also extend beyond a fighter’s career, affecting their quality of life in their post-fighting years. It is vital for MMA athletes to take measures to prevent and properly treat injuries to avoid the short-term and long-term effects on their careers.

Injury Prevention Strategies in MMA

Injury prevention is an essential aspect of MMA training and competition. Here are some injury prevention strategies that fighters can use to reduce their risk of injury:

  • Pre-fight medical evaluation – Before every fight, fighters should undergo a thorough medical evaluation to identify any underlying health issues that could put them at risk of injury. This can include physical exams, blood work, and diagnostic imaging tests.
  • Proper training techniques – MMA fighters should work with experienced trainers who can teach them proper technique and ensure that they are using proper form during training. This can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries, strains, and sprains.
  • Diet and nutrition – Proper nutrition is essential for injury prevention and recovery. Fighters should follow a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. They should also stay hydrated and avoid rapid weight cutting techniques that can weaken their bodies and increase their risk of injury.
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation – If a fighter does sustain an injury, it is important to seek professional medical attention and follow a rehabilitation program to properly recover. This can include physical therapy, strength training, and other exercises to help improve mobility, flexibility, and strength.

Case Studies

In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), injuries are an unfortunate and all too common occurrence. While fighters train rigorously to prepare for their fights, they are still susceptible to injuries that can have long-lasting effects on their careers. In some cases, these injuries can be so severe that fighters are forced to retire from the sport altogether.

One notable example of a fighter whose career was cut short due to a career-ending injury is Chris Weidman, a former UFC middleweight champion. During a fight against Uriah Hall in April 2021, Weidman attempted a leg kick that was checked by Hall, resulting in Weidman breaking his leg in a gruesome injury. Despite undergoing surgery and extensive rehabilitation, the injury was too severe for Weidman to continue his career.

Similarly, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was forced to retire in 2019 due to numerous injuries he suffered throughout his career, including a back injury that required surgery. The toll that these injuries took on Velasquez’s body made it impossible for him to continue fighting at the highest level. Another former UFC champion, Tito Ortiz, also retired in 2019 due to a neck injury that made it unsafe for him to continue competing.

It’s not just male fighters who are susceptible to career-ending injuries. Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate was forced to retire due to injuries as well. Tate suffered a broken orbital bone in a 2016 fight against Amanda Nunes, and despite attempting to make a comeback, she retired in 2017 due to the lingering effects of her injuries.

These cases demonstrate the harsh reality of injuries in MMA and the toll they can take on a fighter’s career. Despite the physical demands and risks of the sport, many fighters are determined to continue competing and take measures to prevent injuries and properly recover. It’s a testament to the dedication and passion that these athletes have for their craft, even in the face of adversity. While injuries may be an unfortunate part of the sport, it’s clear that the spirit of MMA fighters will continue to endure.

mma injured fighter

Fighters who have been able to overcome injuries in MMA

Despite the risks of injuries in MMA, there have been many fighters who have been able to overcome injuries and continue their careers. Here are some examples:

  • Dominick Cruz – Former UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, suffered multiple injuries throughout his career, including a torn ACL and a broken hand. Cruz underwent numerous surgeries and extensive rehabilitation but was able to return to the octagon and continue his career.
  • Georges St-Pierre – Former UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, suffered a torn ACL in 2011 that forced him to take a hiatus from fighting. However, he underwent surgery and rehabilitation and was able to return to competition and regain his championship title.
  • Max Holloway – Former UFC featherweight champion, Max Holloway, suffered a string of injuries in 2018, including a broken foot and concussion-like symptoms. Despite these setbacks, Holloway was able to recover and return to the octagon, winning his next two fights and regaining his championship title.
  • Anderson Silva – Former UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, suffered a broken leg during a fight in 2013. Silva underwent surgery and extensive rehabilitation and returned to the octagon in 2015, winning his next fight.

These cases show that with proper medical attention, rehabilitation, and a strong determination to continue competing, fighters can overcome injuries and continue their careers in MMA. However, it’s important to note that each case is unique and that not all fighters will be able to recover and return to the sport after sustaining a serious injury.


Injuries are a common occurrence in MMA, and they can have a significant impact on a fighter’s career. From financial and psychological effects to long-term consequences, the consequences of injuries can be far-reaching. However, with proper training techniques, medical evaluations, and rehabilitation, fighters can take steps to prevent injuries and recover from them.

Despite the challenges that injuries present, MMA continues to captivate audiences around the world, and fighters are constantly pushing themselves to new heights in the octagon. From the highs of championship victories to the lows of injury setbacks, MMA is a sport that demands determination, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks.

So, whether you’re a hardcore MMA fan or just enjoy watching the occasional fight, we can all appreciate the courage and resilience that fighters demonstrate in the face of injury. Here’s to hoping that fighters can stay healthy and continue to put on exciting fights for years to come.

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