5 Most Common Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts

By Dara Cruz

November 20th, 2023



MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is a very exciting sport growing in popularity. The sport is a show of force and technique that is usually very fun to watch since it’s like a chess game where the athletes combine martial arts to try to take down the other athlete.

Of course, since MMA is a type of contact sport, it’s not a mystery that injuries are common. After all, it’s a sport where the other athlete tries to render the other athlete through strikes and grapples.

Over the years, we have witnessed countless injuries in the sport, both minor and major. We have even seen multiple deaths in the sport already. However, as brutal as it sounds, it remains one of the most popular fighting sports in today’s generation. That said, what are the most common injuries in MMA?

Head Trauma

An athlete wanting to knock out an opponent, usually goes for the head.

This is perhaps the scariest type of injury in any fighting sport. As scary as it sounds, it’s also one of the most common. After all, if an athlete wants to knock out an opponent, they usually go for the head. That said, fighters often take precautions to ensure that their heads are always safe inside the ring to prevent being knocked out and avoid lasting damage that can complicate later in life.

Treatment for this kind of injury is often similar to how other injuries are treated, like surgery. However, the risks involved are often higher since the head is more delicate because it contains the brain. Not only that, but processing head injury is often a lot harder. Sometimes even, the symptoms of brain injury can manifest years later.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are common in MMA, especially because many fighting techniques involve using your knee. This is also the reason why a lot of strategies also involve striking it to limit the movement of the opponent. Because of that, a lot of issues can arise to the knee for two reasons: either from use or from being damaged. Some of the most common issues with the knees are the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, and the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

Under certain conditions where the damage isn’t severe, the injuries can be treated with a cold compress, physical therapy, and rest. For more severe damages, surgery will be required. On the latter one, problems with usage after the surgery can be attributed, resulting in the knee not being used like normal anymore and, of course, requiring retirement from MMA.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains, muscle tears, and even fractures are pretty common in Mixed Martial Arts

Many fighting styles use kicks, so the legs, thighs, and feet will be used. People usually forget that in these strikes, the ankles also get impacted, which can be damaged severely. The ankle joint is stabilized by two ligaments both on the outside and the inside. A sprain occurs when one or both muscles get torn or outstretched.

That said, ankle sprains, muscle tears, and even fractures are pretty common in MMA. This usually happens when the athlete lands wrongly on the ground, an awkward twisting motion, or if the other opponent strikes it. The severity of the ankle sprain usually has two levels: Grade I and Grade III. The former involves mild stretching and damage, while the latter results in a complete tearing of the ligament.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist injuries are also pretty common in MMA, mainly because it involves a lot of action, from standing up from the ground to using it for strikes. However, it’s also no mystery that the wrist is one of our bodies’ most easily damaged parts. If you’ve been a long-time fan of the MMA or a long-time bettor of MMA betting odds, there have been cases where a fighter was rendered unable to fight because of a wrist injury.

One of the worst aspects of wrist injuries is how long it takes to heal. Ligaments hold the bones in your wrist, and when your bones break, they also get damaged. This is why it usually takes for the injury to heal for months and even years. The wrist can be treated with first aid or surgery, depending on the severity.

Shoulder Injuries

Mixed martial arts use a lot of hand movement for striking and blocking, which can cause shoulder injuries. Not only that, but some techniques involve manipulating the shoulder joint aggressively to make the opponent tap out. Of course, this can cause damage ranging from simple to severe.

That said, when the shoulder is not given enough time to rest, the tears in the tendon of the rotator cuff can’t repair themselves, weakening the entire shoulder and even making it more prone to damage.

The sport now includes women.

Martial artists can also suffer from slap tears. This type of damage occurs when you tear the inner cartilage of your shoulder joint. This damage tends to result from overuse and injury, making the shoulder experience pain when moving or even movement difficulty.

Toe/Foot Injuries

If you’ve stubbed your toe before, you know how painful it is. Now, imagine if you purposefully use your foot to kick somebody, and of course, your toe would get impacted as well. For the most part, toe and foot injuries are pretty common.

Possibly, the most common are torn toenails. It’s pretty painful, but at this point, it’s par for the course since many fighting styles use kicks. Another common injury is on the big toe. Since it’s the largest toe on your foot, it’s normal to be impacted much forcibly during kicks. Usually, it’s straight-up damage, but sprains on the big toe can also occur.

Final Words

It’s no mystery that MMA is home to the most gnarly injuries. Through the years, we’ve seen many fighters quitting out of the fight and even from their careers because of the injuries they sustained inside the ring. However, the types of injuries above are some of the most common ones you can see in MMA. But even with that, MMA remains to be one of the most popular fighting sports in the world.


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