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David

The Effects of Fighting - CTE, Injuries, Drugs

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We've all seen the wacky shit that fighters get up to away from the cage, some of it interesting and funny, a lot of it pretty disturbing. The likes of T-Ferg have been widely covered in the MMA media, and for many fans the immediate reaction is to throw them under the bus and hold them entirely responsible for their actions.

There's an element of owning up to what you've done for sure, don't get me wrong, but I think we sometimes forget the toll that this sport can have on people.

I read a short excerpt from an interview that one of my favourite "old school" fighters conducted recently. Renato "Babalu" Sobral was a bit of a pioneer back in the day, and was one of the guys who was considered the "new breed" of complete martial artists.

He was known as a real tough guy, someone who would bite down on their mouth piece and "go to war," but it seems he's sadly paying the price now;

Quote

”What happened to me was something that came in homeopathic doses,” Sobral said. “Today a fighter learns how to fight, he learns how to make money, but he doesn’t learn too much about how to manage his life. I didn’t learn how to manage my life. I made several mistakes about money, about what I could have done with my career. I paid a price for being where I am.

”Today I can’t walk a straight line, I lost sight of my left eye, which is a big price (to pay). I have no balance today, my balance is almost zero. When I’m fighting, when I’m in a jiu-jitsu tournament or in training, it feels that my balance is normal again, but it’s complicated on a daily basis. But the guys that start fighting have to know that the price to pay will come one day. For everyone. People only talk about the good things today, what they have accomplished, what happened, but what about what you’ve lost? What happened to you?

”If someone asked me if I would let my son fight vale tudo, I would say no, I wouldn’t. My daughter? No. I would hope she wouldn’t. I’d rather see her study. My daughter already is on the water polo ‘A’ team of her high school, she competes, but being a professional athlete? Any sport demands a lot from your body and you will have to pay the price in the future.”

“You start doing things you are not prepared to do, but you have to go,” Sobral said. “You have to fight in pain, fight while injured. You get knocked out in the gym, and you’re still fighting the week after. You have to fight. You can’t say, ‘I won’t fight’. It’s one blow after the other. And I’m [paying the price] now, right? I don’t know if I’ll be able to see my grandkids, enjoy my grandkids in a normal way, because I’m starting to slowly feel the effects.”

“I already have [chronic] traumatic encephalopathy, actually. People barely talk about it,” he continued. “You can do a research, [professional fighters] have peaks of depression, we have seizures, you don’t listen that well. I don’t have speaking issues yet, but I lost the eye sight of my left eye, I have osteoarthritis on my entire body. My knee. I have 13 surgeries through my entire body. So, there’s a price (to pay). It’s not in there for free. I don’t even think it’s about glory, because it’s not for enough time.”

We've seen some other guys like Krzysztof Soszynski have to call it a day due to CTE-like issues;

Quote

"I'm no longer fighting. I will never have another mixed martial arts fight ever again. My last fight in the UFC was December of 2011, and it was my first time ever getting literally knocked out cold. My brain didn't wake up for probably about 40 minutes after the fight. My first little training session [after that], I sparred with this little 155-pounder, and he hit me in the face, in the jaw, once. My brain literally said: 'No more.' I'm forgetting things. I'm forgetting my words. I'm mixing things up from time to time. Even counting backwards from like 20 down to 10 was tough. I knew right away then that it was time for me to move on and do something else. It's not getting worse, but it's not getting any better. But it's one of those things where I think it's the way it's gonna be for the rest of my life. It kinda sucks. You take all those little things for granted."

TJ Grant is a difficult one to really get a handle on, as he's been pretty private about the issues he's suffered, although we do know it was long-term issues related to concussions. Last anyone really heard he was working on a potash farm in rural Canada to pay the bills;

Quote

"I've been doing this sport, or I did this sport for a long time. Can't say that I'm currently doing it. I'm not going to close the door on never coming back to fight. But at this point, I am just taking care of myself and my family first and foremost. I did well in the UFC. I wouldn't say I made a lot of money, but I was able to buy a house and then buy another one. At this point, where did this sport really leave me? It kind of left me injured and then I had a little over a year where I just basically accumulated debt like most fighters do in between fights. Basically, I was hurt for awhile and I basically had to go back to work and be a regular guy for a bit. I would definitely entertain the thought of going back to fighting. But at this point, I have to also realize that to get back into fighting it costs money. You got training camps and basically put your whole life on hold. Right now it's not something that's in the cards for me having two little ones. It's obviously taking precedence over my life and, you know, potentially in the future you never know. I still feel like I'd love to compete, I still feel like there is some fire in me. I definitely love combat sports and I love competing, so, I'd like to do it potentially, but I haven't made my mind up at all."

Those comments were made four years ago, and Grant hasn't fought in six years. At the age of 35 he's not coming back now.

There's obviously Gary Goodridge who is the most famous of all MMA CTE cases at the moment, but I don't know how long he's going to hold that title. Not that long ago we heard this from Wanderlei Silva;

Quote

“I was in a lecture about concussion and of the 10 symptoms the guy mentioned, I had eight,” Silva said. “The symptoms would be, for example, mood swings, getting angry very fast, forgetting some things, having difficulty sleeping.”

“I, for example, believed that the the more you got punched, the more you could take it. And it’s the opposite: the more you get, the less you can take in a fight,” Silva said. “If I could leave a tip for the young guys, it would be don’t hit yourselves every day. If you have a young student, don’t let him take too many punches to the head. There’s the right moment to do a hard training, but it can’t be every day. A good coach takes care of your student.”

Sadly, I think we'll see more and more of this over the next ten years or so. 

Edited by David

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There are numerous stories we won't know of too.

To add a famous one, GSP thought he was getting abducted by aliens because there were periods of time where he felt he couldn't recall or account for. GSP said he'll be driving and have a blank spot about what he just did. It's terrifying that.

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39 minutes ago, ColinBollocks said:

There are numerous stories we won't know of too.

To add a famous one, GSP thought he was getting abducted by aliens because there were periods of time where he felt he couldn't recall or account for. GSP said he'll be driving and have a blank spot about what he just did. It's terrifying that.

Particularly terrifying when you consider he's supposed to be one of the healthy ones who got out relatively intact. Insane.

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