(Turns out, Pat Curran received a nickel for every unnecessary shot he was able to deliver to Warren’s dome. He used the proceeds to buy his mother a house in Brazil.)
Whether you love or hate former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren, you were likely up in arms over the ridiculously late stoppage that marred his Bellator 60 title fight with Pat Curran. In fact, you were likely curled up in the fetal position when forced to re-watch that travesty while writing for a MMA website some ten days later. You weren’t? Well, neither was I, but this guy I know…
In either case, you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Joe Warren vomited backstage in the wake of that loss, which basically wrote home the general consensus that he had suffered a concussion that night. Thankfully, Warren has undergone several tests since then that have cleared him of any permanent brain damage, but the idea that he could receive a scant 90 day suspension for his injuries has earned the ire of MMAJunkie.com medical columnist Dr. Johnny Benjamin, who feels Warren should take closer to a year to fully recover from that ungodly beating:
He needs a year off for his brain to heal and then reassess his life and say, ‘Is this what I want to continue to do? Two vicious knockouts in a row? You don’t even want to begin to think what that’s doing to your brain. The man really needs a year off from taking blows to the head.
Given that Gary Goodridge was recent diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a result of similarly acquired punishment, perhaps this is something Warren should consider.
Although no medical suspensions for Bellator 60 have been made available, it is safe to assume that Warren will receive a ninety day sidelining, as is often the norm for a concussion, at which point he will be cleared to fight again. Dr. Benjamin, however, believes that more time is necessary, up to a year in some cases, to truly diagnose the aftereffects of such gruesome mental trauma. Benjamin has stated that the yearlong break would be primarily composed of memory and balance tests, as well as a close monitoring of things like recurring headaches. In addition, Dr. Benjamin and doctors nationwide have encouraged fighters to participate in long-term brain studies similar to the ones being held at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. These clinics could help catch early glimpses of diseases like CTE and pugilistic dementia that can come as a result of repeated blows to the head, and could potentially help save a fighter’s life before it is too late.
But according to Dr. Benjamin, often the best option to increase a fighter’s longevity is the option they least want to hear: stop fighting. He continued:
For a person that comes into my office, what do you say? Do the best thing for this person. You’re not supposed to think about anything else. But in sports, what we’re taught is not to do what’s best for the person. What we’re taught is called ‘return to play.’ Because everyone from the team or organization is going to ask you one question: How quickly can my man get back?
No one has ever asked what’s the best thing for this person. So part of the thing we have to do is start looking at this thing differently. We need to look at them as people and say, ‘What’s the right thing for this person?’ Not what gets them back to competition the quickest.
It’s hard to deny that what Dr. Benjamin is preaching is undoubtedly true. It is also hard to deny that his advice will likely fall on the deaf, cauliflower-ridden ears of those he is addressing. Warren, for instance, is already scheduled to partake in the Olympic team trials in Ohio next month for a future spot on the 2012 Olympic wrestling team. Granted, he faces little risk of re-aggravating his injury, but the turnaround from such a brutal knockout to a high level contact sports competition is insane to say the least.
Then again, many fighters simply cannot afford to take a year off from the sport their careers, especially considering the likely high costs of undergoing such hefty medical procedures. In a sport that moves as quickly as MMA does, a year away could mean an end of relevance, a breach of contract, and a potential drop in stock. So what say you, Potato Nation? Should Warren, and fighters in a similar position as him, risk their financial future in order to secure their physical/mental one?
I don’t know how you could argue otherwise, but then again, these are simply the pitfalls of a sport that most, if not all, fighters are made aware of before deciding upon such a career path. And who are we to decide what’s best for them?