MMA is Violent, But These 4 Combat Sports Are More Dangerous


With the rise in popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and rival promotions like Strikeforce, legislators in states like New York are feverishly fighting the trends, citing dangers to fighters as a reason to continue bans enacted as early as 1993. 

But what are actually the most dangerous sports on the planet? The answers might just surprise you.

1) Muay Thai Kickboxing (Thailand) 

Taking part in a real Muay Thai bout is just about the most dangerous thing you can do without holding guns. Fought in boxing rings, over 75% of matches end in a TKO (where a ref or judge stops the fight) or a knockout. It is not uncommon to see fighters being carried out of the ring in stretchers. Muay Thai focuses on parts of the body normally not allowed for use in other combat sports: knees and elbows. Combining these with extremely powerful kicks, and boxing gloves designed to limit the amount of punches thrown, typically results in broken jaws, cracked ribs, damaged knees, internal bleeding, and periods of unconsciousness. Fighters typically toughen the shin bones in a number of ways. The most common is to repeatedly kick banana trees, although rolling the shins on glass bottles is gaining popularity. This is done because the main striking surface of a muay thai kick is not the foot, but the shin bone, and by creating micro-fractures in the shin bones, fighters can turn a normally fragile bone into a strong, blunt club. Getting kicked in the head often results in ear damage, cracked orbital bones, broken jaws, missing teeth, and brain injury.

2) Silat (Malaysia) 

Silat is one of the oldest and most widely practiced Martial Art in the Asian world. Its list of techniques designed to mortally wound or kill an opponent is longer than most other styles have in total techniques. Fighters are not limited in what they can strike with, where they can strike, and fighters do not wear any form of protection. Silat practitioners are credited with repelling the invasions of three world powers, from the Chinese, French, and Russians. Silat is so deadly that more injuries occur in unsanctioned bouts than in Pankration and Boxing matches combined.

3) Western Boxing (USA)

Commonly referred to as the “Gentleman’s Fight Sport,” boxing is statistically one of the most dangerous combat sports on Earth. Why? Because you can only punch someone above the belt, and the match continues until one fighter is knocked down three times in one round (there are 12 rounds). Fighters can resume being beaten into oblivion if they can stand up after 10 seconds. Combine the narrow targeting, leading to a high amount of strikes to the head, and the knockdown rules, and you have the makings of a sport that causes an estimated 35-50 deaths per year, and over 2,500 concussions per year. It is not uncommon for a retired boxer to have no memory of what he or she has done in their lives, a condition commonly referred to as being “Punched Out.”

4) Pankration (Greece) 

Pankration is considered to be the stylistic forefather to modern MMA events. Originated in the southern portion of Greece, Pankration fighting utilizes bare handed punches and kicks, although punches to the head are not allowed, as well as an array of violent takedowns and submission moves. So what makes it dangerous? Well, for one, pankration bouts are fought on marble floors. Secondly, all strikes are barehanded and bare footed. There is exactly zero protection involved. This has led to an estimated ratio of 2 serious injuries every 5 bouts. Still not convinced? Pankration skills were used by the Spartans in their battle with the Persians that spawned the movie 300.

Now, there are some honorable mentions, for each category, that I feel deserve at least a nod: Wing Chun Kung Fu (edged weapons) and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu (edged weapons).