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New study reveals that boxing leads to more serious injuries than MMA

A new research study from the University of Alberta has quantified some data indicating that Boxing poses a bigger risk for major injuries than does Mixed Martial Arts.

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Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

An interesting new research study conducted by University of Alberta shows that Boxing is a more dangerous sport than Mixed Martial Arts. This study is quite illuminating since Mixed Martial Arts is often viewed as the most brutal combat sport out there -- but that's not necessarily what the data shows.

Researchers from the university's Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic reviewed data spanning a decade from post-fight medical examinations in both Boxing and MMA fights. The results of the study show that while there is a slightly higher risk for minor injuries in MMA, there is a greater risk for serious injuries in Boxing (including concussions/other head trauma, loss of consciousness, eye injuries, and broken bones).

"Yes, you're more likely to get injured if you're participating in mixed martial arts, but the injury severity is less overall than boxing," explained lead author Shelby Karpman, a sports medicine physician at the Glen Sather clinic. "Most of the blood you see in mixed martial arts is from bloody noses or facial cuts; it doesn't tend to be as severe but looks a lot worse than it actually is."

Specifically, the researchers looked at post-fight records of 1,181 MMA fighters and 550 boxers who fought in Edmonton between 2003 and 2013. The data revealed that 59.4 percent of MMA fighters suffered some form of injury during their fights (higher than the 49.8 percent of boxers who did), but in most instances these injuries were made up of bruises and contusions. Boxers, on the other hand, were more likely to get knocked unconscious of suffer serious eye injuries compared to their MMA counterparts (7.1 percent for boxers, 4.2 percent for MMA fighters). Boxers were also much more likely to receive medical suspensions for injuries suffered in their fights. Karpman explains the results to the Edmonton Sun:

"The general finding was, if you look at injury rates overall, there wasn’t a big difference," said Karpman. "But there were more severe injuries in boxing than there are in mixed martial arts."

"We took all the data which was presented initially in a North American fight doctors conference in Orlando about four or five years ago," said Karpman. "We decided to put it together on paper and publish it. It's the largest study of its kind in mixed martial arts vs. boxing injuries."

Karpman goes on to say that there is obvious risk competing in any combat sport, but that MMA faces a much bigger stigma from the medical community who view more blood in MMA as equating to more violence, which just isn't the case. A result of this stigma from the medical community results in an "undertreated athletic population," according to Karpman.

"These guys do not get the respect they deserve for what they're doing--or the medical treatment--because the medical community doesn't want to deal with such a bloody sport with head injuries and concussions," Karpman said.

Despite the risk factors associated with combat sports, Karpman believes that banning such activities isn't the solution, as it would likely just drive the sports underground leading to even less medical care.

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