A study was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health analysing head strike rates in MMA.
In the study, titled Head Trauma Exposure in Mixed Martial Arts, the authors reviewed all numbered UFC events from the year 2000-2021. They reviewed the number of head impacts received and then analyzed these based on different factors such as sex and weight class. They found the average fighter absorbed almost 2.5 significant head strikes per minute of competition and that women absurd more head strikes than men. Addressing the difference the authors noted as follows:
Women’s fights were on average one and a half minutes longer. Over thirty percent of all fights (31.6%) ended due to knockout with a head injury (32.2% of female and 23.1% of male fights)
They found significant exposure to head trauma overall and cautioned competitors to be well versed in the risks of competing and minizine overall damage absorbed in the profession with these comments:
Professional fights in mixed martial arts involve high exposure to head trauma. During combat, a fighter receives 2.41 significant head strikes per minute on average—2.95 ± 3.94 in female fights and 2.37 ± 3.06 in male fights. There were also 7.73 ± 6.63 total head strikes in female and 6.2 ± 5.34 in male fights. The number of head punches (total and significant) in male fights was higher in the lower weight categories—such as bantamweight and featherweight. In women’s fights, such differences between divisions were not found. When comparing equivalent male and female divisions, there were statistically significant differences in total and head strikes (more performed by women) in the featherweight category. For all types of strikes, females had more significant punches in clinch, distance and on the ground in the male and female flyweight divisions, and in body strikes and those in distance and clinch in the male and female bantamweight divisions….Careful evaluation of the risk involved in training for such a discipline is necessary to provide adequate prevention methods.
The full study can be found here and the abstract reads as follows:
Combat sports training involves a high risk of head injury. Previously published research on head trauma exposure in MMA evaluated only the knockouts (KO), without calculating all head strikes. The aim of the research was to evaluate the total head trauma exposure during MMA competitions among male and female fighters. Two thousand four hundred and eighty-eight MMA fights from all numbered UFC events between 2000 and 2021 were analyzed. A database containing the results from officially published scorecards with information such as the outcome of a fight, its duration, number of strikes (significant and total amount of hits) depending on location and knockdowns was created. Additional video verification of the knockout technique was carried out. The athletes received an average of 2.41 significant head strikes out of a total of 6.30 head strikes per minute. Head strikes were more common in female fights than in male. Women executed more total and significant head strikes per minute than men. Head trauma caused the ending of 31.6% of all fights—more often in male fights (32.2%) than female (23.1%). It was the most common cause of knockouts—88.1%. Professional fights in mixed martial arts involve high exposure to head trauma. A careful evaluation of the risk involved in training in such a discipline is necessary to provide adequate prevention methods.