Most Common Injuries in MMA

Most Common Injuries in MMA

There are only a limited number of rules in MMA, which is what makes this contact sport so exciting and sometimes brutal. Fighters can decide from which martial arts they’ll draw most influence from to create a style that works for them. Millions of people watch MMA fights because they like to see how professional athletes use different fighting styles in combat.

When you have a sport as brutal as MMA, it’s expected for the fighters to suffer a lot of injuries. This is a risk they choose to live with because successful MMA fighters make a lot of money. Here are some of the most common injuries they face today.

Staph Infections

Staph infections are caused by bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus, which are commonly found on the ground, surfaces, as well as human skin. Depending on how deeply it invades your body, a staph infection can be mild or deadly. Most complications occur when the bacteria enter your bloodstream, heart, bones, joints, or lungs.

In most cases, when people get a staph infection they don’t experience almost any symptoms. However, serious health problems can occur if the bacteria manage to enter your body through an open wound. This scenario has a high likelihood of happening among MMA fighters. Infected fighters can go days without a single symptom, all the while spreading it to other athletes.

There is also a high chance that you get infected from training at your gym. The bacteria that cause staph infections can survive on surfaces like gym equipment for weeks. It’s important that you reach out to your physician as soon as possible in case you’re experiencing symptoms like irritated skin, blisters, and fever.

To reduce your risk of suffering from a staph infection, it’s recommended that you wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds each time. Make sure to keep all of your wounds covered as well. Finally, avoid letting other people at the gym use your personal items.

Eye Cuts

Like in boxing, fighters often suffer eye cuts when competing. Most strikes that land on the area surrounding your eyes can cause a cut. Nevertheless, the most likely to cause one is an elbow strike. The likelihood of getting an eye cut during a fight depends a lot on your skin. If you have strong skin, you might never get cut regardless of the beating you take.

On the other hand, if you have sensitive skin or a lot of scar tissue around the eye socket, there’s a higher chance that you’ll get cut. To prevent this from happening during training sessions, it’s important to wear headgear.


Concussions are some of the both common and feared injuries in the world of MMA. Essentially, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that results from a strike to the head. When a fighter is knocked unconscious, that’s the result of a concussion.

However, an MMA athlete doesn’t need to get knocked unconscious in order to suffer this traumatic brain injury. There are common symptoms of concussions that can occur hours, days, or even weeks after the injury. They include headaches, confusion, nausea, memory loss, dizziness, and blurred vision. People who experience these symptoms should reach out to a doctor immediately.

Although serious concussions often happen in professional fights, it’s important to mention that they occur during sparring sessions as well. In case you experience this type of traumatic brain injury, it would take months for you to recover enough to get back into the gym and start working out again.

Joint Degradation

Much of the movements in MMA can cause joint degradation over time. Every time you punch, kick or jump around, you put a lot of pressure on your joints. To make things worse, you suffer additional damage whenever you get hit. The reason why joints get damaged among fighters is that they lose cartilage, a smooth elastic tissue that covers and protects them, as a result of the constant impact.

Many professional MMA fighters who retired have experienced joint discomfort for years after they stopped fighting. Joint degradation is a problem that usually gets worse over time. In the beginning, you might only experience slight discomfort. However, if your cartilage gets damaged enough, it can turn into severe pain.

MCL, ACL, and PCL Injuries

Unfortunately, knee injuries are quite common among MMA fighters. There are four different main stabilizers in your knee, including the lateral collateral ligament complex, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and medial collateral ligament (MCL).

Even fighters who don’t compete as amateurs or professionals often suffer knee injuries because MMA is a sport that pushes your ligaments to their limits. The ACL is without a doubt the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. Fighters can tear it when they suddenly stop or change directions with hyperextension stress.

You can get a PCL tear if you suffer a strike in the front of your knee, or fall forward on a bent knee after getting hit. Depending on the damage you suffered, your PCL can be either partially or completely torn. It can take up to a year to fully recovered from a PCL tear.

If you suffer a direct blow to the outer side of your knee during a fight or sparring session, there’s a chance you’ll experience an MCL injury. Whenever you’re feeling pain in your knee that doesn’t go away after a couple of days, it’s important to get it checked out by a medical professional.

Broken Bones

MMA fighters have to take a lot of hits both during training and competitions. Depending on the strength or their opponents or sparring partners, some of these hits can result in fractures. In most cases, fighters experience fractures in their hands. Broken hands are often the result of misplaced punches.

Arm fractures are common because of the popularity of the armbar in MMA. The armbar is a move that can put a lot of pressure on the joints of the arm. After hands and arms, the most likely bones of the body to get injured among MMA fighters are shin bones.

About the Author

Jeremy Deschner
Black Belt in American Karate from the Texas Karate Institute. Now training in Brazilian Jiujitsu in Japan. Twitter: @mmajpn1 @jiujitsu_Jedi

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