"The only goal of boxing is to either hit one's opponent in the head so hard that he can not get up or to hit one's opponent so many times in the head that the referee has to step in and stop the fight."
-"Big" John McCarthy
From 1993 to now, MMA has been very successful in establishing a place on the American, Asian and European entertainment spectrums. It is widely regarded as the fastest growing sport in the world. MMA's growth is undeniably massive and surprisingly sudden.
However, the violence factor has held MMA back a great extent. There are still some viewers that can not seem to get past the use of elbows, knees and kicks. Once they see this they seem to think that they are watching a no-rules fight to the death. However, the people that see the sport this way are much more likely to sit down and enjoy a nice boxing match. Although it would seem that MMA is a very violent sport, it is actually safer than boxing because in MMA there are rules that help hurt fighters, less rounds and brain damage and death are extremely rare.
In a 12-round championship boxing match there are about 350-600 punches that land. Ninety percent of these are to the head. Even in training, boxers wear protective headgear to protect the soft tissue on their face. However, this headgear does not protect the shots to the brain. Every time a fighter is hit in the head, the brain suffers the impact. This is where the brain damage in boxing comes from, says McCarthy.
MMA should be considered safer than boxing because it gives fighters the chance to take the fight to the ground or clinch their opponent. The natural reaction for any fighter in MMA or in boxing that gets hit hard in the head would automatically grab his opponent and clinch to prevent getting punched again. In boxing, the referee comes in and breaks up the clinch because it is illegal in their sport. This creates more opportunity for a fighter to receive blows to the head. In MMA, there would be no referee interference here. The fighter would be able to clinch his opponent and avoid the multiple blows to the head that a boxer would receive.
A title fight in boxing is twelve rounds that are five minutes each, while a title fight in MMA is five rounds that are five minutes. This obviously reduces the amount of shots that an MMA fighter is hit with. Boxers have over twice as much time to focus on their single goal of knocking their opponent out.
Knockout and injury rates are the main argument, however. Boxers commonly suffer from major brain trauma, swelling and hemorrhaging of the brain. In state-sanctioned MMA competition there has been 1 recorded death in sixteen years. The fighter that died was Sammy Vasquez. It was reported that Vasquez had a pre-existing blood clot and underwent surgery to remove it. He then suffered another blood clot. This cause fluid to enter his brain and he had a stroke. He slipped into a coma until he died. There was also Douglas Dedge who died in Ukraine, but it is also rumored that he had a pre-existing condition. In the past sixteen years there have been over 110 recorded deaths in boxing. This number is astonishing. Boxing has claimed as much as 30 lives in one year and since 1890 there has not been a year without multiple recorded deaths due to boxing.