Physio and MMA enthusiast Chris Tack takes a look at what actually happens with the 'what happened' phenomena when a fighter is knocked out.
FRAT alert, but a very informative and useful read as always to those that are interested.
“Yo Man, I killed him.”
These were the words first spoken by a fallen Pat Barry following his first KO loss at the powerful hands of Cheick Kongo in the main event of Pittsburgh’s UFC Live card in June 2011. Following a swarming attack of his own against the staggering Kongo, Barry was caught with an inch-perfect counter straight punch to the chin which caused his lights to turn off. An amazing comeback strike to end the fight at 2 minutes and 39 seconds of the first round.
Following the fight Barry has since reported that he “lost two minutes” of his life after being knocked unconscious for the first time in his career during this battle. This is a familiar occurrence and on a number of occasions UFC commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg have described how fighters have previously reported the inability to remember a short period of the fight following a well-placed strike.
On occasions, this has extended to the inability to remember whole rounds where the fighter was seemingly working on “autopilot”. This instinctive reaction is commonly where a fighter will “return to their roots” and most comfortable strategy (e.g. pulling guard for a BJJ guy or shooting a low single for a wrestler) following a well placed strike by their opponent, demonstrating subconscious awareness of the actions.
The queries which are frequently posed following such reports are whether MMA as a sport is too dangerous? Many observers and critics jump into assumptions that this is evidence of brain damage, without underlying scientific evidence to justify and back up their theories. Of course long standing physical damage through multiple concussions, in combination with years of repetitive blunt force trauma to the skull, could potentially lead to progressive neurodegeneration in the form of conditions such as dementia pugilistica or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. However, in this case we are discussing the traumatic loss of short term memory due to a specific, one- time trauma.