Injuries are a part of every professional sport: football, baseball, soccer, hockey, heck even bowling. Most of the time athletes suck it up, throw some ice on it, take some meds, and train through injuries in order to perform and cash their pay check. Injuries are just simply second nature.
Lately, MMA has been plagued by injured fighters: GSP, Dominic Cruz, Mark Hunt, and Cain Velasquez just to name a few. Most fighters are prone to injuries that may even require surgery and a 4-8 month lay-off. The UFC then has to not only scramble to find a replacement for the card the injured fighter was supposed to be on, but in some cases the whole weight class is at a stand still until the injured fighter returns (GSP, Edgar, Cruz).
We haven’t really seen what an injured high profile fighter performs like in a war after a major surgery. One of the most recent major surgeries I can think of off the top of my head would be Tito Ortiz’s back surgery. To be honest, I was impressed with his performances. Back surgery is usually something regular people aren’t the same after, let alone a 37-year-old MMA fighter. To have 16 professional fights all in the UFC against the best guys in the world and still continue to fight after a major surgery, I give props to Tito.
Champions and former champions like GSP, Dominic Cruz, and Cain Velasquez have questions attached to their injuries. Will they be the same fighter when they come back? Not only is surgery taxing on the body, it is also taxing on the mind. That recovery period requires intense will power, patience and determination. Of course the purse they will receive for their next fight is a great motivational tool, but having the will to make it through rehabilitation and then a training camp as soon as they are healed? Yikes. Talk about no breathing room.
Fighters that aren’t champions also have some questions attached to their injuries. Will they get back on a winning streak, or did this injury kill all the momentum they had?
Recently, Mark Hunt had to pull out of his UFC 146 fight with Stefan Struve, a stacked all heavyweight showcase. Hunt would have came in riding a three fight winning streak and with the confidence knowing twitter fans wanted him to fight for the UFC heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos.
Diving even deeper into the injury thought pool we obviously arrive at the subject of Alistair Overeem. We all know he had elevated testosterone levels and lost his chance at fighting for the heavyweight strap at UFC 146. He blames the incident on medication his doctor had given him for a bothersome injury he acquired well before the Brock Lesnar fight.
In order to recover more quickly and keep the momentum they had going, it would seem high profile injured fighters would rather turn to a “sketchy” healing processes just to stay “in the mix”, rather than take the time off they need. (cortisone shots in camp and before fights as a last resort really?!)
With so many injuries plaguing the sport, what can fighters do to keep injury free and keep us, the fans, happy?
Us die-hard fans hate fight cards getting switched around, and fighters hate being injured. There has got to be some solution to the madness.
I guess as fans we will just have to watch and see. Champions are made and lost because of injuries. Careers take off and dive down because of pain.
I would hate to see my favorite fighters never be the same. But even worse, I would hate to know my favorite fighter won because their opponent was injured.Tags: champion, cruz, division, featured, george st pierre, gsp, hurt, injury, Mark Hunt, mma, pain, plague, sport, standstill, ufc, velasquez