2018 World Championships | Headline Medical Stats

Pictured: Post- bout medical room at the Khalifa Sports City Arena for the 2018 World MM Championships

The recent 2018 IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships and Junior World Championships in Bahrain from 12 to 17 November saw 334 matches take place over 5 days.

Today the unified governing body published a breakdown of injuries data taken from tournament medical records. This is important not only for the evaluation of how safe the sport is at any one time, but also for guiding changes in protocol to improve safety and minimise. The statistics are not in any way alarming for a contact sport, with the most common being expected abrasions, bruises and lacerations and soft tissue injuries, countering uninformed allegations that MMA is unsafe compared with similar recognised sports.

In the summary below, injuries have been classified by type and (conservatively) as follows:

SLIGHT | Soft tissue damage without any evidence of fracture or brain injury. This category includes abrasions, bruises and lacerations. Also included is any complaint of pain as well as all Technical Knock-Out (TKO)  stoppages involving head strikes where no specific injury was identified. It is IMMAF policy to issue an automatic suspension to any competitor who has lost a match via TKO (head strikes), regardless of whether the competitor has been diagnosed with concussion by the post-bout doctor.<

MEDIUM | Includes concussions and even suspected concussions, which by definition are functional injuries without any evidence of structural damage of the brain such as bleeding. This category also includes fractures not requiring surgical intervention and substantial lacerations.

SEVERE | Severe facial injuries such as fractures requiring surgical treatment as well as any brain injury with a structural cause such as bleeding. Also included in this category are concussions with profound symptoms such as extended loss of consciousness.


Medical lead Dr Aljulanda (left) onsite at World Championships


Total number of post fight medical examinations | 668
Number of severe injuries | 0 
Number of medium injuries | 11*
Number of slight injuries | 166

Number of severe injuries per hundred bouts | 0
Number of medium injuries per 100 bouts | 3.3*
Number of slight injuries per 100 bouts | 49.7

*Medium injuries consisted of:
– 2 x orbital medial wall fractures
– 2 x nasal fracture
– 1 x suspected mandibular/molar fracture
– 1 x AC joint dislocation
– 1 x meniscus injury
– 4 x hand or thumb fractures


This data represents an overall 10.2% reduction in injuries per 100 bouts (against the 592 bouts across the last 4 major tournaments). Aside from there being NO severe injuries, the greatest reduction (21.4%) was seen in injuries classified as ‘medium’, with the reduction in injuries recorded as ‘slight’ being 10.2%.


Suspensions include mandatory suspensions for KO and TKO losses (with head strikes) where no concussion or injury as been diagnosed, as part of IMMAF – WMMAA protocol:

Total number of medical suspensions issued | 90

Number of medical suspensions requiring a doctor’s clearance before return to competition |  14

Average suspension period (total suspension days/ no. of injuries resulting in a medical suspension *excluding suspensions requiring a doctor’s clearance) [3002/163] | 18.4 days

Percentage of injuries resulting in an suspension requiring a doctor’s clearance to return to full contact [14/177]  | 7.9%


Of the 64 KO/ TKO finishes recorded by the medical team, 14 were sent for CT scans (all normal), and of the 50 remaining athletes, 45 were subject to serial neurological observations and/or a SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) tests.

One athlete refused a head CT as advised, and has been indefinitely suspended pending neurological clearance, and for a minimum of 60 days in any event.

Total number of head CT scans |  17

Total number of X-rays and non head CT scans | 15


View IMMAF’s list of medically clear and suspended athlete’s here, as administrated by independent medical organisation, Safe MMA 

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