Tuesday, 7 February 2012

MMA Fighter Injuries in SA

It is not uncommon in the sport of MMA for fighters to pick up injuries whilst training, in fact it is impossible not to acquire the occasional niggle. Unfortunately, as is the nature of the sport, the injury is sometimes debilitating and the fighter is forced to withdraw from training for a period of time. If said athlete is already scheduled to fight, this invariably results in the fight having to be cancelled, which is one of the most disappointing outcomes for MMA fans and fighters alike.

With the recent surge that MMA has experienced in South Africa, a huge amount of hype has been created around major MMA events. This has been strengthened by the much larger marketing budgets which are used to promote key fights to the public. Fighters too are becoming more celebrated and fans wait patiently to see their favourites step into the cage. This in turn creates additional expectation and the intensifies the feeling of disappointment when local fights are cancelled.

It seems to me that fight cancellations due to injury seem to happen more frequently in the South African MMA scene, than abroad. Almost every event has a high profile fight or two pulled due to injury and while this is disappointing it is also a little concerning.
I have pondered and discussed this point at length and have managed to identify a few possible causes of this, most of which I attribute to the sport being so young in South Africa. Here are my deductions:

Not all fighters are completely professional
Many fighters are only semi-pro, often holding day jobs to stay afloat. This not only reduces training and more importantly resting time, but this lack of time and finance often inhibits them further in terms of the necessary nutrition, supplementation and professional medical assistance (Physiotherapy etc.)

Many fighters are fighting too often
The problem with a young sport is that there are often not enough participants, events, enthusiasts or sponsors. This invariably means that many professionals are forced to fight more frequently to make ends meet or to fulfil contractual obligations. Fighting camps are tedious on the body and mind and fighting too often, or fighting again too soon, can increase the chance of injury.

Some fighters are training for fights together
Fight camps should be run professionally. High level combatants should have an array of “expendable” training partners with whom to train, the focus remaining solely on the soon to be competing athlete. Our current climate leads to competing fighters sparring together on an ongoing basis to ready for fights, as both fighters are focussing on themselves these sparring sessions are in many ways tantamount to stepping into the cage and can increase the chance of injuries

Dissemination of Knowledge
Many individuals are necessary in the preparation of fighter. These include but are not limited to technical coaches, conditioning coaches,  training partners,  physiotherapists and dieticians. All of these facets need to be properly accounted for individually and synergistically for a fighter to be at his peak on fight night.  A young community lacks experience in many of these areas, and while certain South African fight teams have got a number of these elements in place, most do not have a complete team operating at the highest level. 

How address this in South African MMA?
The evolution Mixed Martial Arts in SouthAfrica cannot be rushed. We have gone a long way down the road in a short period, and in time as the sport grows organically, we will begin to see the necessary changes take place to address these issues. While it will not eradicate injuries and fight cancellations in the future, it may go a long way to reducing their frequency and the catastrophic effects that such announcements bring.


Post a Comment