Head trauma and combat sports are inseparable.
When two athletes work hard for a decade — and then extremely hard for the eight weeks immediately before a fight — they’re going to get pretty good at hurting one another. The full extent to which MMA fighters get hurt is neither understood nor consistent. Some skulls in this sport have endured genuine war crimes yet seem totally okay, while others never recover from a single concussion suffered in the gym. Unlike other sports, fighting cannot bury the intent to damage human beings.
That’s the whole point.
Sports fans react to this reality differently. It understandably turns some would-be fans off entirely, which is why combat sports will remain at least somewhat fringe. Some fans are bothered by the concept but manage to watch on anyway. And, callous as it may sound, some do not care at all.
I may be a professional fighter, but I’m a member of the final group. I certainly wish the best possible health and longevity for all who step into the cage. At the same time, anyone who willingly participates in an intentionally violent sport cannot pretend to truly care about their own health.
Jordan Leavitt’s slam knockout of Matt Wiman was still shockingly vicious.
It took Leavitt 22-seconds to commit one of the most brutal acts I’ve ever seen in a decade of full-time commitment to the sport. He ducked into a well-timed double, picked Wiman up, then slammed him into the canvas. More specifically, he drove their combined weight, plus gravity, plus the force of his neck frame directly into the point of impact: the back of Wiman’s skull.
Wiman went stiff with his arms extended, a surefire sign of head trauma. On the off-chance that anyone was unsure, color commentator Dominick Cruz helpfully pointed out that it was indeed a concussion-inducing event.
The knockout was startlingly violent. Yet, it was contrasted with so much levity that the whole thing felt completely surreal. Moments before the bloodthirsty slam, Leavitt was making funny faces at the camera. The man named “Monkey King” did a Dirty Dancing homage in the Octagon immediately after the stoppage. There might as well have been a laugh track!
Meanwhile, Matt Wiman was still immobile on the canvas floor. He didn’t get up for a while.
None of this is a knock on Leavitt. Wiman is a veteran, a mean scrapper who would have loved nothing more than to elbow him to pieces. Spectacle aside, Leavitt merely did his job, and he was plenty respectful afterward. Good for him!
Ultimately, UFC Vegas 16 should not have been an overly memorable event, but this knockout may prove hard to forget.
For complete UFC Vegas 16: “Vettori vs. Hermansson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!