It’s hard to think of a time when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) received as much exposure as it has had in the past couple of months.
The organisation – the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company in the world – caused a stir towards the end of 2014 when it signed up former WWE superstar CM Punk. The 36-year-old, whose real name is Phil Brooks, is a former WWE champion and one of the most popular wrestlers of the modern era.
Why is this such a big talking point?
First and foremost, it’s hard to argue against the point that Punk’s signing last month has thrust the UFC under the spotlight, which will obviously be hugely satisfying for the promotion’s owners.
However, there’s a clear difference between the WWE – where moves are choreographed and most matches are scripted with a pre-determined result – and the UFC, and this has sparked an intense debate on Punk’s ability to compete inside the octagon. As you can imagine, UFC is not for the faint of heart. The sport features the very elite fighters on the planet and bouts can be gruelling, regularly ending in bloodshed.
Punk isn’t the first WWE star to appear in UFC, as Brock Lesnar – who is the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion – became the UFC Heavyweight Champion in 2008. While there is a clear precedent here, there’s a general sense that Lesnar was naturally better suited to Ultimate Fighting than Punk.
Although nobody is doubting Punk’s conditioning – WWE stars are arguably among the fittest athletes in the world – there have been suggestions that he will be out of his depth in UFC, despite his background in Jiu Jitsu. Some current members of the UFC roster are also peeved that Punk will be automatically placed into a high-profile fight, something they’ve worked years to achieve.
It’s a majorly divisive issue and one that is likely to catalyse debate right up until Punk’s first fight – whenever that may be.
An expert physio’s view of Ultimate Fighting
A lot of people have voiced concerns about the welfare of a relative newcomer – albeit an extremely fit, well-conditioned newcomer – being thrust straight into a high-profile bout.
It was announced in early January that Punk will join the esteemed Roufusport training complex, so he’ll certainly be in good hands and will be able to learn new MMA techniques from some of the best. At Summit Physio, we work with a multitude of MMA and Bellator fighters, so we know how important it is for fighters to train and prepare properly.
The biggest misconception of UFC is that the majority of injuries are sustained during fights. As this list published by MMA Mania shows, most injuries are in fact sustained during training. Of the 101 competitors who suffered an injury in 2013, a mere four per cent occurred in a fight, while 87 per cent happened during training sessions (the remainder were attributed to various circumstances away from the octagon and training camp).
With so many disciplines to master, MMA training sessions are notoriously intense, and this places competitors at a higher risk of injury. A Labrum tear – a particularly serious injury – for example, can sideline fighters for anything between 12 and 18 months, which can be disastrous for those who need to take part in big fights in order to earn a living.
Our expert physiotherapists use the latest technology such as The Performance Matrix to ensure our fighters know where their weak spots are, which helps them to create a training regime that will enable them to prepare for a big fight without risking an injury. As ever, we abide by the motto that injury prevention is better than cure.
Andy Ogle explains the pitfalls of MMA training
Andy Ogle is a very promising MMA fighter who has benefited first-hand from Summit Physio’s services. Nicknamed ‘The Little Axe’, 25-year-old Andy knows what it takes to train for a big UFC fight. He also understands that injuries are common during training camps.
“Injuries are a massive factor in training. As a professional athlete with the clock counting down to the big fight date, an injury can affect a training camp massively,” he commented.
“Mentally, certain injuries can affect a fighter during the most important weeks of his fight camp. For example, a strained neck will impact all areas of MMA, whereas a sore index knuckle on a cross hand can be padded and worked around.”
If you’re gearing up for a big fight, you cannot afford to simply down tools and rest while a minor injury heals. Andy explained that by working with Summit Physio, he has been able to tailor his training sessions so that he’s fully prepared for his next fight, without exacerbating any injuries he may have picked up.
“Andy and the Summit Physio team identify pre-existing weaknesses and compensations in the body and aim to strengthen these to create a better sporting athlete,” he continued.
“And if and when that athlete, such as myself, is broken, it is as if [Summit Director Andy Hosgood] is a wizard and he fixes these issues with a wave of a wand.
“His understanding of sport-specific movement is second to none. Normal physios say stop everything, which is not an option for me as a fighter. Andy can work around injuries and his understanding of my needs allows me to continue training while the clock is ticking down.”
No doubt CM Punk will be fully prepared for the rigours of a gruelling MMA training regime, but can the same be said of other newcomers to the sport? It will certainly be intriguing to see how the ex-wrester fares in the UFC.
To learn more about how Summit Physio can help you prevent and recover from injuries, contact us here.