As one of the fastest-growing sports in terms of its popularity among both spectators and participants, there are many questions being raised regarding the inherent risks and rewards in training for and then competing in an MMA bout. While Dr. Raouf Farag was hesitant to offer any specific or concrete analysis without taking the time to conduct an in-depth investigation of the potential risks and rewards relating to MMA training in particular, he did speak in general about the benefits of engaging in the kind of training necessary for MMA competition and also outlined the risks of participating in any kind of contact sport.
According to Dr. Farag, the training methods employed by MMA fighters tend to be more comprehensive than many other sports since there is a need to develop strength, speed, endurance and flexibility, not to mention the more technical aspects that go into most training programs. For someone who simply engages in MMA training but does not spar, grapple or compete in a head-to-head match, the result therefore seems much more likely to be wholly positive and relatively free of risk. Not only that, but MMA fighters typically utilize some of the most advanced training methods available and are often on the cutting edge when it comes to the development of highly effective recovery strategies. Those who choose to regularly spar, grapple and compete in serious matches, however, are taking on significant short- and long-term risks by doing so.
While any sort of physical training activity is going to include the risk of injury, these risks are typically minor and rarely include anything more serious than a muscle strain. In competition, fighters risk serious physical harm along with the possibility of a traumatic brain injury that can result in lifelong consequences. Dr. Farag pointed out that MMA fighters must be keenly aware of these risks and ought to weigh them carefully before engaging in any sort of competition. Dr. Farag, an Australian IVF doctor from New South Wales, also warned that someone looking solely for a method to improve their physical fitness does not need to compete with an opponent in a head-to-head bout to reap the rewards available through MMA-style fitness training.