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Friday, November 25, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Medical Suspensions Handed Down to Various UFC Fighters
Mixed martial artists put their bodies on the line each and every time they compete, as reflected in the medical suspensions that were handed down after several recent UFC events. There has never been a death in any sanctioned MMA bout, but injuries are part of any sport and MMA is no exception. Many of these medical suspensions are given out as a precautionary measure.
Zuffa doesn't have anything to do with the length or type of medical suspension that any given fighter receives, as these decisions are left up to the doctors of the various athletic commissions, in this case the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
These medical suspensions were given out after various TUF 2 fights that were taped between June 15th and July 12th, the Ultimate Fight Night show on Spike TV back on October 3rd, the live TV finale of The Ultimate Fighter 2 on November 5th, and the UFC 56 pay-per-view on November 19th.
Medical Suspensions Stemming from Ultimate Fighter 2 Pre-Taped Fights
-Rob MacDonald was medically suspended indefinitely due to a torn left labrum and a torn left bicep
-Dan Christison was medically suspended indefinitely due to nasal and facial fractures
-Jorge Gurgel was medically suspended indefinitely due to a torn left ACL
Notes and Analysis:
-In the case of all three of these fighters, they will all need to get medical clearance from a doctor before they can fight again. What is so disheartening about these injuries is something that I've written about before, and that is the way in which these fighters were treated and portrayed on the show.
Dan Christison was portrayed as someone who "just didn't step up" and perform as well as he should have in his loss to Seth Petruzelli. The reality show would have led you to believe that he either gassed out or just didn't have the heart and desire to be there. In fact, he suffered multiple fractures to his nose and face. You'd think that tidbit of information would have been mentioned on the show, but it apparently made more sense to bury a fighter who was on his way out of the show at that point.
Jorge Gurgel was treated as a warrior who tried to gut it out despite having a torn ACL, which is a very serious knee injury. At the same time, Rob MacDonald was portrayed as a bum and a coward despite the fact that he stepped into the Octagon and fought with a torn labrum, which is a very serious shoulder injury. Not only that, but in the process of fighting with a torn labrum, MacDonald also tore his bicep. Everyone involved in the show who made disparaging remarks about MacDonald should be ashamed of themselves, from the people who made the comments in the first place, to the editors of the show who put a strong emphasis on them.
Beyond the fact that fighters who didn't deserve it were disrespected on national television, TUF 2 also brought back up the issue of fighters who go into fights knowing that they have a major injury, and the fact that this has repeatedly managed to elude the attention of the athletic commissions.
How exactly is it that Jorge Gurgel was allowed to fight with "no ACL in his knee," as he put it? How exactly is it that Rob MacDonald was allowed to fight with a torn labrum? Either the athletic commission knew that they had these serious injuries and still allowed them to fight (which would be wrong), or the fighters lied to the athletic commissions and/or failed to disclose their serious injuries (which would also be wrong).
This is not just limited to TUF 2. How did Ken Shamrock get medical clearance for his fight at UFC 40 when he had a torn meniscus in his knee going into the fight? How did Ken Shamrock get medical clearance for his fight at UFC 48 when he had a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder going into the fight? How did Forrest Griffin get medical clearance for his fight at UFC 55 when he had a torn rotator cuff and a torn ligament in his knee going into the fight?
The various athletic commissions, whether it's the Nevada State Athletic Commission, New Jersey State Athletic Commission, or Mohegan Tribe Athletic Council (since those are the only three jurisdictions in which the UFC regularly holds events), need to band together and do everything in their power to make sure that their pre-fight examinations are thorough enough to discover serious injuries even if a fighter wants to keep his injuries hidden.
One other note on the TUF 2 medical suspensions is that the doctors didn't hand out anywhere near as many suspensions as they normally would for twelve fights, largely because short-term medical suspensions were unnecessary under the circumstances. As part of the exhaustive agreements that they had to sign to be on the show (which included a multi-million-dollar fine if they told anyone about the fight results), all of the fighters involved in TUF 2 were already barred from fighting again until TUF 2 was done airing. Therefore, the doctors had no need to give out a bunch of short-term medical suspensions where they otherwise would have.
Medical Suspensions Stemming from the Ultimate Fight Night show on October 3rd
-Evan Tanner was medically suspended for eight weeks due to multiple large lacerations on his scalp and face
-Jay Hieron was medically suspended for eight weeks due to a large laceration on his forehead
-Josh Koscheck was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Fabiano Scherner was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Brock Larson was medically suspended for four weeks due to a facial laceration
Notes and Analysis:
-There were no long-term medical suspensions on this card, which is a rarity for a sanctioned MMA event. Only five of the fourteen fighters who competed on this event were given any medical suspensions, and three of those were due to cuts.
-Not coincidentally, when a cut is bad enough during a fight that the doctor advises the referee to stop the fight, it's usually a bad enough cut to warrant a medical suspension, as was the case on this event with Evan Tanner and Jay Hieron.
-At the same time, you can be medically suspended due to a cut even if that cut didn't end the fight. Brock Larson fought the entire three rounds on the non-televised undercard of this event, and lost via decision to Jon Fitch, but he was still given a four-week medical suspension due to a cut.
-Josh Koscheck and Fabiano Scherner were both medically suspended due to the fact that they took some clean shots at the end of their respective fights (both of these fighters lost by TKO). Koscheck in particular was not only knocked into a state of semi-consciousness, but was then choked out while in that state, causing him to lose for the first time in the UFC.
Medical Suspensions Stemming from the Ultimate Finale show on November 5th
-Kit Cope was medically suspended for six months unless he can get his shoulder and clavicle injuries cleared by an orthopedic doctor
-Sam Morgan was medically suspended for six months unless he can get his orbital and nasal fractures cleared by a doctor
-Kerry Schall was medically suspended for six months unless he can get his left knee and right hand injuries cleared by a doctor
-Marcus Davis was medically suspended for eight weeks due to an eyebrow laceration
-Diego Sanchez was medically suspended for six weeks due to an upper eyelid laceration
-Nick Diaz was medically suspended for six weeks due to facial bruises and a scalp laceration
-Rashad Evans was medically suspended for six weeks due to the heavy amount of punishment that he took in his slugfest decision victory
-Brad Imes was medically suspended for six weeks due to the heavy amount of punishment that he took in his slugfest decision loss
-Joe Stevenson was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his decision victory
Notes and Analysis:
-This event was the complete opposite of the October 3rd Spike TV event in terms of the number of major injuries that were sustained on this card. There wasn't a single fight that didn't result in at least one of the fighters being medically suspended, and in total nine of the fourteen fighters who competed were medically suspended. There were also three major, long-term suspensions, which just goes to show the risk that these fighters take every time they step in the Octagon.
-After his loss to Kenny Florian in the opening televised bout, Kit Cope made reference to the fact that he went into the fight with shoulder and clavicle injuries, and he wasn't kidding. It's courageous for a fighter to want to go ahead with a scheduled fight despite being injured, but the question has to be asked yet again: Why did the doctors not detect Cope's major injuries in their pre-fight physical examination of him?
-Three of the four biggest medical suspensions came from the non-televised undercard, including the six-month suspension handed down to Sam Morgan. It's hard not to feel bad for Morgan, who knocked out Duane "Bang" Ludwig in an MMA match on the very same night that the TUF 1 finale was taking place earlier this year (April 9th). Viewers had just seen Morgan lose an exciting fight in the TUF 2 semi-finals to Luke Cummo, a fight that had just aired a few days earlier but originally took place on July 11th. Just a few days after that fight aired, Morgan was knocked out in the first 30 seconds of his undercard bout against Josh Burkman. A nasal fracture is bad enough, but an orbital bone fracture is even worse and usually prevents a fighter from doing any contact training for several months.
-The knee injury that Kerry Schall suffered shortly after arriving at the TUF 2 filming in June was re-aggravated during his undercard fight against Keith Jardine on November 5th. To make matters worse, Schall also suffered an injury to his right hand in the Jardine fight.
-Marcus Davis suffered a cut near his eyebrow during his fight against Melvin Guillard that was severe enough to cause his fight to be stopped and to warrant an eight-week medical suspension.
-Diego Sanchez and Nick Diaz went through a classic 15-minute war, and both fighters were pretty banged up after the fight. Sanchez had a big cut near his eyelid that would have likely caused the fight to be stopped if the fight were five minutes longer, which would have caused him to lose by TKO even though he was winning the fight by a fairly wide margin. Meanwhile, Diaz had several bruises and cuts on his head, causing him to get the same six-week medical suspension that was given to Sanchez.
-In their three-round, back-and-forth slugfest, Rashad Evans and Brad Imes did not suffer any specific injuries that concerned the doctors, but they did take a huge amount of punishment and also fought in an exhausted state for most of the contest. Though Evans came out on top via decision, both fighters were given six-week medical suspensions. In response to those who have asked, Tony Weeks was the one judge who had Imes winning the fight on his scorecard, while Nelson Hamilton and Abe Belardo had Evans winning.
-In another reminder that winning or losing doesn't necessarily have any impact on whether you will be medically suspended, Joe Stevenson was actually given a medical suspension after his victory over Luke Cummo, while Cummo was not given a medical suspension. In a competitive fight between the two, Stevenson dominated the positioning game and also came close to finishing the fight with submissions on more than one occasion, but it was Cummo who landed the more punishing blows in the stand-up. The doctors do not necessarily give stand-up striking exchanges any more or less regard than ground-and-pound striking exchanges, but in this particular case they chose to give Stevenson a six-week medical suspension, while not giving Cummo any medical suspension.
Medical Suspensions Stemming from the UFC 56 event on November 19th
-Nate Quarry was medically suspended for six months due to multiple nasal fractures suffered in his KO loss (if his nose is cleared in the next six months, Quarry will still be medically suspended for a minimum of two months)
-Trevor Prangley was medically suspended for six months and must have his right hand X-rayed and cleared by a doctor
-Sean Sherk was medically suspended for eight weeks due to a nasal laceration and punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Keith Wisniewski was medically suspended for eight weeks due to punishment taken in his decision loss
-Ansar Chalangov was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Kevin Jordan was medically suspended for six weeks due to an upper lip laceration
Notes and Analysis:
-This event had a significantly lower amount of medical suspensions, with only six of the sixteen fighters getting medically suspended. It helps that there were no fights on this card that resulted in both fighters getting medically suspended, and there were two fights that resulted in neither fighter being medically suspended (Matt Hughes vs. Riggs, and Sam Hoger vs. Jeff Newton).
-Due to the brutal nature of his knockout loss at the hands of Rich Franklin, it is likely that Nate Quarry would have been medically suspended for at least a few months even if he didn't suffer any injuries. However, Quarry's suspension was lengthened to six months due to the doctors' belief that Quarry suffered multiple fractures to his nose in the fight. If a doctor subsequently determines that Quarry's nose has healed and decides to medically clear him sometime in the next six months, Quarry will still be medically suspended for a minimum of two months due to the fact that he was knocked out in such a brutal fashion.
-Trevor Prangley is believed to have broken his right hand at some point during his fight against Jeremy Horn, which Prangley lost via decision. All three judges (Marcos Rosales, Nelson Hamilton, and Glenn Trowbridge) had Horn winning the first two rounds and Prangley winning the third, resulting in a 29-28 victory for Horn on all three judges' scorecards.
-Sean Sherk took a lot of punishment in his surprisingly one-sided loss to Georges St. Pierre, and also had a fairly big cut on his nose, resulting in an eight-week medical suspension. Kevin Jordan was given a six-week medical suspension under much the same circumstances, with a big cut coming alongside a TKO loss.
-To demonstrate that the manner in which you lose doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the length of your medical suspension, look no further than the cases of Keith Wisniewski and Ansar Chalangov. Chalangov was TKO'ed in his fight, while Wisniewski lost his fight via decision. On paper, you would think that Chalangov would get a longer medical suspension, but you would be wrong. Due to the fact that Wisniewski took a lot more punishment over the course of his three-round decision loss than Chalangov did in his TKO loss, Wisniewski was medically suspended for eight weeks, while Chalangov was only suspended for six weeks.