Several former UFC fighters have come forward in recent years admitting they are living with the consequences of CTE. The disease, however, can only be formally diagnosed at this time after death via autopsy.
It appears the first formal diagnosis of CTE has now been made in a former UFC fighter.
Tim Hague, known as “the thrashing machine” died following a profoundly lopsided boxing bout in Edmonton in 2017. The death has sparked litigation against several defendants.
A key detail revealed in the lawsuit is that Hague apparently was diagnosed with CTE at the time of his death. This means he would have already had the progressive brain disease when he was licenced for his last bout. Specifically the Hague family notes as follows in their Statement of Claim:
“Following an autopsy of Tim Hague, it was determined that Tim Hague had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (mild, early stage) (“CTE”) and the Plaintiffs plead that this is the cumulative result of head trauma sustained by Tim Hague throughout the various fights noted above and others not mentioned”. The lawsuit goes on to note that regulators failing to note the realities of this disease fail fighters in their regulatory duties.
Although Hague appears to be the first UFC fighter to be formally diagnosed with the disease he is not the first MMA fighter. In 2016 former Bellator fighter, Jordan Parsons was diagnosed with CTE post-mortem after being killed in a vehicle collision.