The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA, in collaboration with Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Boxing, recently contributed $600,000 to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
The contribution was announced Tuesday during a press conference in Las Vegas attended by Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was also present, as were UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former Bellator lightweight ruler Michael Chandler.
Launched in 2011, the Cleveland Clinic study was started to observe the effects of head trauma on combat sports athletes, with a focus on detecting early signs of brain injury and identifying which individuals might be more likely to develop chronic neurological disorders. The knowledge gained from the study may also be applied to athletes from different sports, as well as members of the military and civilians who have suffered head trauma.
Nearly 400 fighters are currently involved in the study, 25 of whom are retired. Data garnered from the fighters is being compared to the data of a control group made up of individuals of the same age and education level who have not experienced head trauma. Researchers hope that the investigation will eventually enroll 625 to 650 participants.
“We have made great progress in the study so far, and we are continuing to work toward understanding why certain individuals sustain long-term brain injury from repeated head trauma and how we can detect changes early to protect those individuals,” said Charles Bernick, M.D., associate medical director at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and principle investigator on the study.