Long read, but v. important, so worth it.
"Bernick’s study – officially dubbed the Professional Fighter Brain Health Study – is still in the early stages. Since 2011 he’s examined nearly 400 pro fighters – about 60 percent MMA fighters, 40 percent boxers, according to his estimates – using advanced MRI scans, neurological exams, tests to track changes in speech, balance, mood, reaction time, cognitive abilities and more.
While it may be years before he has anything definitive to report, the study has already broken new ground in at least one area..."
What Bernick is seeing in the preliminary findings across both boxing and MMA, he said, “suggests that repetitive head trauma does cause degeneration of cells, and the areas shrink.”
* Has an interview with Aaron Riley.
* UFC fighters get free MRI (worth $2,000) if they participate in the study
* Interesting comment re. training at Miletich's gym:
"It’s something Riley thinks about, especially after beginning his career training at Pat Miletich’s gym in Iowa, where training sessions were notoriously brutal in the early days of the sport. Riley said he regularly saw fighters knocked unconscious in training. Even then he knew that had to be bad for your brain."
So, practice now is safer, right?
Yes, but.. according to research by Nick Denis:
"What surprised him was that, according to the research, it wasn’t just the big, lights-out concussions that put you at risk for serious and irreversible brain damage. It was the little hits too, the “sub-concussive” blows that a pro fighter might not even notice anymore. Those were the kind of hits he sustained not only in fights, which usually only lasted a round or two and no more than three or four times a year, but also in practice."