Injuries plague athletes in all sports because, simply put, by being physically active yearlong, it wears the body down. For UFC fighters, the number of injuries lately seems to be occurring too frequently and have not gone unnoticed by UFC President Dana White.
At the post-fight presser for UFC on FX 3 for Fuel TV, White addressed this growing problem.
“I think what’s happening […] is you have so many talented guys out there now all in the same camp, going at it like they’re fighting for the title,” said White. “These guys need to tone it down in training a bit and stop hurting each other.”
In 2011 and 2012 the UFC has seen several of their top drawing names go down because of an injury outside of the Octagon. If a fighter gets injured during a sanctioned bout, that’s one thing and is understandable. The fighter is in front of an audience, trying to create a name and earn a paycheck for themself. It’s easier to accept the injury then because when in front of the crowd, the point is to give everything one has.
It’s these injuries in training that are hurting the sport and the fighter. If a fighter is injured, that means less income for them and forces the company to work around their injury. This has led to numerous fights in the UFC to be postponed indefinitely or scratched all together, some only days before a fight that has been hyped for months in advance.
In just the last few weeks, top names such as Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping and Chad Griggs have had to bow out from their scheduled bout due to an injury sustained in training. This causes the fighter, their challenger and the promotion to scramble to change the card.
To date, three UFC champions are sidelined with injuries. None bigger than star attraction and current UFC Welterweight Champion George St.-Pierre who has been out since December of 2011, with a torn ACL in his right knee. This caused the UFC to create an interim championship, until his return. This creating of an interim championship is nothing new, as it has happened in several different weight classes over the years, as a company cannot wait upwards of a year for a champion to be properly healed.
This leaves the notion if an interim championship really allows a fighter to claim they are best because they never beat the champion. They basically filled in for the champion, while he was away and their possession is just a second tier belt.
As the sport of MMA grows with more fighters every year, it creates stiffer competition. Naturally, a fighter is going to go all-out when they are training so they are at the top of their game. The issue is that they are going too far. The overwhelming training is not paying off in the long run. It’s just creating chaos for the sport by getting injured prefight.