Australian UFC fighter Kyle Noke has claimed that when it comes to head knocks, MMA is safer than Rugby League.
Noke, a former lower grade Rugby League player himself, made the claim while trying to promote his upcoming fight in Canada on April 16th.
Noke pointed to the fact that if an MMA fighter receives a concussion they are suspended from fighting again for 8 weeks. It kinda misses one very important point however…
I’ve been an MMA fan for a very long time and while the sport is undoubtedly safer than say boxing in terms of head trauma, comparing it to Rugby League is just silly.
While a great deal of MMA is not about attacking the head of your opponent with punches and kicks, it is still a very big part of the sport. There are very few high level MMA fighters that don’t possess the ability to knock an opponent out and many fights (The best ones if you ask me) end up being stand up battles where punches, elbows, knees and kicks to the head are the order of the day.
While MMA fighters are given an 8 week suspension after some fights because of head trauma, that only happens during an actual fight. There are numerous instances of fights being knocked out during training and then going on to fight very soon after. There are actually a number of fights where good fighters have been knocked out very “easily” and later on it has turned out that during training camp they were knocked out a couple of times.
This shows that while there is concussion regulation on fight night, during training camps, there’s none.
That is a very big grey area that Noke maybe should have mentioned…
Many people feel that sparring is where most MMA fighters and Boxers get their real brain trauma from. Its not just the highlight reel knockout blows that give your brain injuries, its the constant knocks to the head.
Sparring isn’t supposed to be an all out fight. You’re only supposed to go at about 80%. Some even wear headgear during sparring. But those constant taps to the head, of which there can be thousands of them, over time can do their toll.
Just last week on the Joe Rogan Podcast former UFC Champion Matt Serra mentioned how long it had been since he has a sparring session, describing it as “making a withdrawral” in terms of knocks to the head you take in those sessions.
You also have to look at the end result of both sports…
In Rugby League when a player gets knocked out, its an accident! In MMA, it is part of the goal of a fighter, to try and knock the other guy out if he possibly can.
You can’t line the sports main markers for success up at all. One is about putting a while ball over the line, the other is about doing enough damage to incapacitate your opponent.
I’m a fan of both Rugby League and MMA, and I see connections that both sports do have. When you get to the elite level of athleticism you can see things athletes do across all sports that have similarities.
Trying to say that MMA is safer in terms of head trauma than Rugby League though, I’m sorry, but that just isn’t the case. All you need to do to work that one out is look at the numbers. How many of the 34 players in a Rugby League game come out with major head trauma comped to how many fighters come out of a 17 bout card with head trauma.
Good luck on April 16th Kyle. Everyone in Australia hopes you knock your opponent out!
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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