Five Most Convincing Reasons Why MMA is Safer than Boxing?
Often talked about as “cage fighting,” MMA is regarded as one of the most notorious contact sports in the world. MMA (mixed martial arts) is a combination of techniques and skills combined together from both oriental and Western combat sports that are brought into play in the ring. Combatants in MMA fights are required to bring into practice their striking and grappling skills.
UFC fighters Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, and Khabib Nurmagomedov have become household names and why won't they? MMA has skyrocketed in popularity over the years and made its way from a sideline combat sports to the mainstream.
Although the history of MMA is not ancient like boxing but this contact sport has seen exponential growth in its popularity, and undoubtedly now it is one of the fastest-growing sport all over the world. With the increase in the size of the MMA global audience, it is on number three in the list of the most famous sports, next to soccer and basketball.
According to Nielson Sports DNA, there are around 451 million people interested in MMA.
UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a leading organizer of MMA, and every year gut-wrenching events are organized in which combatants are allowed to not only punch but use techniques from boxing and other forms of combat sports to beat their opponent. When you see two rivals beating the living daylight out of each other within closed premises of an octagonal cage, your mind must think of this sport as the bloodiest and brutal, but that’s not true as the saying goes “sometimes what you see is not always true.” A study revealed that regardless of all the blood and violence, MMA is actually safer than boxing.
The possibility of experiencing minor but noticeable injuries like bruises or contusions is higher for MMA fighters than the boxers but it is noteworthy that the long-term impacts of injuries in MMA are much lesser than the boxing. One can succumb to a serious wound to the head, broken bones, or unconsciousness in the boxing ring.
If you are still wondering from where that blood comes from then think no more because it is either a bleeding nose or facial cuts that are not severe but look a lot worse to spectators’ eyes.
With spectacular viewership and exciting events happening in combat sports on a massive scale, let's take a look at why MMA is safer than boxing.
A concussion is by far the ultimate concern in the world of contact sports. The repetitive blows to the head make the participant vulnerable to the risk of concussion and serious brain injury. Though breaking of bones and damage to other body parts like hand, legs, shoulder, and knees is also possible; still the danger of concussion outweighs any other possibility.
Yes, you are more likely to get injured if you are participating in mixed martial arts, but the injury severity is less overall than boxing.
A research in 2015 established that the highest possibility of injury is in MMA, but there is an additional information that settled this debate.
- There was a high percentage (84%) risk of injury to the head and neck in boxing
- The rate of concussion (14%) was significantly higher in boxing than the MMA (4%)
- Boxers were twice likely to undergo a concussion that had led to unconsciousness
- Normal medical deferrals for boxers were 26 days as compared to 20 days for MMA combatants
All these facts clearly suggest that the seriousness of injuries in MMA is not as much as in boxing.
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2-Shorter MMA bouts
This reason is as plain as pikestaff, but still is worth mentioning. There are 10-12 boxing rounds, each comprising of 3 minutes thus 30-36 minutes of the complete fighting session.
Whereas the MMA contest lasts for either 3 or 5 rounds, with a time limit of 5 minutes in each round. For championships or titled events, UFC schedules all 5 rounds. A simple math will be enough to understand that the MMA fights comprise of almost 15 minutes, almost half to boxing. The risk of damage gets automatically low when time is reduced to half.
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3-MMA fights are easier to hinder
Clinching is not allowed in boxing to stall the fight; still, during a fight when a boxer gets stunned, he may find clinching as a hope to play for time. But the referee rapidly separates the opponents from each other and once again he creeps in danger.
Unlike boxing, MMA fighters can clinch their contenders, and not only that, they can grab their legs to take them down. Meanwhile, it gives enough time to fighters regain their senses and attack again.
This makes ending the opponent a little complicated in MMA. Whereas in boxing, when trying to rescind your rival, counter punches are the only danger one can encounter in the ring; but in MMA, both contenders have an equal chance to clinch and impede the fight.
Delaying the fight actually gives benefit to the fighter as they get some time to recuperate, this makes MMA a little safe specifically for the wounded opponent.
4-Sparring in MMA Vs Boxing
Do you know that most of the time, hard sparring sessions are the reason behind severe brain injury? Yes, you might have blamed actual fights for a concussion but the real culprit is sparring. Then why do retro gyms promote regular hard sparring and clashes? The thinking goes like that, the more you train hard and punish yourself, the tougher you will be in the ring or cage.
To some extent, we do agree with this thinking, sparring while preparing for a fight is vital for anyone who wants to compete but again regular hard sparring is extremely damaging and risky to practice. Constant hard blows to the head can have a long-term impact on the brain by causing CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
The difference between sparring in MMA and boxing is that, in boxing, contestants punch each other on the head, while in MMA, fighters can mix grappling and sparring and this makes it less concussive.
Kicks can also cause concussion but most of the time in MMA, fighters target the legs and body of their opponents. That's what make Muay Thai a less dangerous combat sports as compared to boxing because, in boxing, boxers go for each other's head which makes them vulnerable to brain injury.
Most importantly, the distance between MMA fighters makes it harder to strike directly on the head. Just a little reminder, high kick hits are more savage than the ones caused by punches. It's just that high kicks are challenging to land than punches due to the distance which is why they occur less often.
What has made MMA attractive to the audience?
Instead of the risk factors involved and all the blood and violence, what really has contributed in attracting the global audience to this combat sport? There are many factors at play but it can be easily maintained that media has significantly played a central role in bringing this sport into the mainstream and encouraging its progression.
If you see the mechanism in other sports, you will realize that most players and governing bodies are responsible for the growth of their respective sports. But in MMA, aggressive marketing is the reason why its popularity is on such a grand rise.
Just like boxing, MMA also promotes the fad of personality, with fighters’ taking a jibe at each other before the fight for the sake of adding up the spice, just to gain attention from the audience. Despite the grandeur of cage fighting and the colossal amount of money involved, MMA is still advertised as the latest than boxing, mostly seen as establishing sport with its exceptional multi-million dollar promoted contests.
More than anything, actually it is the impulsiveness of the MMA fights that have made them super engaging.
The comparison between MMA and boxing in terms of brutality and voraciousness has always been a tricky one; MMA being regarded as all blood and violence cage fighting. A lot of debate stirred over social media platforms on the safety-related concerns but the fact can't be denied that both combat sports have more than millions of global audiences, and it is suspected that with elite class MMA events and high profile marketing, the game will soon overcome boxing in popularity.
The evidences do suggest that the rate of injury is subsequently higher in MMA than boxing but it is also notable that the risk of serious injury like brain trauma is more likely to happen in the ring with boxing gloves on.
We can say that there is a dearth of scientific data on the long-term comparative effects of concussions and especially repeated kicks on the head in retired boxers and MMA fighters.
However, there are evidences to back the proposal that professional boxing is more precarious than MMA due to constant hitting on the head.