Newly-Released UFC Performance Institute Journal Includes Athlete Concussion Protocol

By: Tristen Critchfield
May 4, 2021


The UFC Performance Institute has taken a deep dive into mixed martial arts with a 484-page study of the sport.

The digital journal, which is entitled, "A Cross-Sectional Performance Analysis and Projection of the UFC Athlete,” is the second volume of its kind and includes data and insights collected by the UFC PI over the course of the last four years of working with hundreds of fighters. The journal is designed as a resource to help athletes “in all aspects of their health, well-being, and performance.”

The journal is “part analytics and part educational” and is divided into the following five sections, per a release:

PART I - Strategy & Goal Setting
-Contains comprehensive data from competition analysis; injury audit data; performance diagnostic data from testing over 600 UFC athletes; and a host of principles relating to optimizing performance.

Part II - Off-Camp
-Offers a comprehensive overview of all the methods and philosophies that the UFC Performance Institute team adopt when fighters are off-camp, including sparring considerations and planning technical sessions; concussion management; training load management; and education on supplements and anti-doping.

Part III - Fight-Camp
-Reviews all the critical aspects of fight preparation, including technical session planning; managing the weight descent; tapering; and peaking for competition.

Part IV - Fight Week & Competition
-Addresses the most essential things to consider in order to maximize competition in the Octagon, including weight cutting and fight week fueling; travel; post-weigh-in rehydration; fight warm-up; and the psychology of competition.

Part V - Post-Fight & Transition
-The post-fight section considers all the medical aspects of injury, concussion, and return to training, as well as the process of reviewing the fight and resetting goals and objectives for the next fight cycle.

One of the most significant aspects of the study is the release of the UFC’s first-protocol for concussions. That includes information on symptoms, evaluation and diagnosis as well as a plan for returning to competition after suffering a head injury.

The five-stage plan for returning to competition after a concussion includes 24 to 48 hours of recovery, after which an athlete can return to two various stages of non-contact drilling and strength and conditioning. The final two stages feature a return to moderate contact and finally, full contact — the last of which also requires physician clearance. Fighters are encouraged to consult a concussion assessment tool called the SCAT5 — a questionnaire regarding symptoms — to help guide this progression. A later section offers advice on the types of nutrition best utilized to help with recovery from a concussion.

“Concussion symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on the severity of the brain injury,” the journal reads. “After a suspected concussion, it is important to follow up with a licensed medical provider within 24 to 48 hours to steer the athlete in the right direction for recovery. Medical involvement becomes extremely important if symptoms persist more than 10 to 14 days. There are various types of concussions that athletes can experience, and treatment should be individualized depending on symptoms that they are experiencing. With a thorough evaluation and the proper classification of the concussion type, the fighter’s management and rehabilitation can be much improved.”

According to statistical study provided in the journal, concussions account for 15.2 percent of injuries in male fighters and 9.2 percent of injuries in female fighters.

In addition to information on concussion management, “A Cross-Sectional Performance Analysis and Projection of the UFC Athlete” provides advice on choosing a weight class, cutting weight, sparring considerations and travel, to name a few topics that are covered.

“We were initially surprised as to how well our first journal was received,” said Dr. Duncan French, vice president of performance for the UFC Performance Institute. “But when we understood just how valuable the resource was to the global combat sports community, we aspired to create something even more comprehensive-- a one-stop resource that athletes and coaches can reference at any moment in time.  We honestly believe there is nothing like this out there, and the collective expertise of every member of the UFC Performance Institute team has been poured into Volume 2.  We are very excited to share all our philosophies and ideas with the world.”
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