While mourning the deaths of Kevin Randleman and Kimbo Slice, veteran fighter Wanderlei Silva took to Instagram to share some thoughts on the perils of his profession.
In his post Silva states that “We don’t know yet all the consequences caused by our profession, or the consequences on your bodies and minds…I attended a lecture about concussions and I had 12 out of the 15 symptoms presented by the expert there.”
While it is true there is still much being learned about CTE, one thing that appears well established is that it is a disease of mileage. If you get hit in the head enough times there is a point of no return. When that point is going to arise is never known but when the point is crossed is clearer. Think of smoking and cancer; a doctor can’t tell their patient how many cigarettes they can smoke before developing cancer but they can tell when the disease has already manifested. CTE and brain trauma are similar. Its not known how many hits are going to be too many but early stages of CTE can be identified.
So should this admission be career ending? I am not in the business of handing out fight licences but State and Provincial athletic commissions, who are tasked with this responsibility, must take admissions such as this seriously.
Earlier this year I discussed what MMA’s CTE/Concussion lawsuit may look like. In short it would be anchored in arguments that athletic commissions failed in their duties to deny licences to fighters who are showing consequences from too much ‘mileage’. Admissions such as this fit squarely into this model.
Whether commissions are fearful of potential litigation or not, their central duty is to make decisions to protect the health and safety of combatants. Licencing combatants who are experiencing chronic symptoms of head injury fails this duty.
Silva goes on to ask “Who is going to look after us?“. His damage perhaps cannot be undone but commissions denying a further fight licence may be part of the help he is looking for.