("I know, I know…he just seemed so *real*, that’s all.")
After going on Inside MMA to claim that deaf people are easier to knock out because of their soft heads and poor "equilibium" [sic], Tito Ortiz recently took to his Twitter page to offer this retraction:
"I want to apologize to the deaf community for the remarks I made about Matt [Hamill] it was uncalled for. He is a good fighter and I was out of line."
An apology certainly helps, but to fully settle this matter, MMA Junkie enlisted their medical columnist Dr. Johnny Benjamin to answer the question once and for all. And man, Dr. Johnny didn’t spare anybody’s feelings. Here’s what he had to say:
"This is a difficult question to answer – not because it has any basis in fact but because it is difficult to stay professional and not attack the character of a person who makes such ignorant statements.
So in fairness, I viewed the ‘Inside MMA’ show in question (it debuted on Aug. 6) to appreciate and evaluate Mr. Ortiz’s comments for myself.
‘He’s been babied his whole life coming from being deaf, of course, and he’s going to be babied after I knock him out,’ Ortiz said. ‘He’s slow. He’s like a big slow ox. I’m going to pick him apart, and I know his corner really can’t tell him what to do and show him the mistakes he does…He’s deaf, so he has a soft head.’
That prompted someone, apparently host Kenny Rice, to react in astonishment. But Ortiz continued.
‘You people don’t know this,’ he said. ‘Watch how (Rich) Franklin knocked him out quick. You hit them (deaf fighters) with soft shots because (with) their equilibrium, they don’t have no equilibrium.’
Wow. One of the problems with the First Amendment’s right to ‘free speech’ is that it also protects the statements of fools.
Deafness, equilibrium and concussions (knockouts) have little, if any, significant relationship. Deafness is a loss of hearing, not balance. The inner ear has some function in both hearing and equilibrium, but they are very separate issues.
Furthermore, what any of this has to do with an athlete’s ability to withstand a blow to the head is difficult to understand. Concussions are an issue involving brain function and not the inner ear and/or vestibular apparatus.
There is not a shred of reputable medical literature that even suggests that deaf athletes are more susceptible to concussions than any other athlete.
I will not waste a great deal of your time discussing this non-issue, and I was pleased to hear that Ortiz realized the stupidity of his comments and later apologized via Twitter.
‘Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.’ – Author unknown, attributed to Mark Twain
On the bright side, Tito’s embarassing comments (and the resulting fallout) are the only things that are drawing any heat whatsoever to his UFC 121 fight with Hamill. You still got it, champ!