Yesterday saw a gathering of lawmakers, medical professionals and fight promoters to discuss a new study that will be done on the brains of combat athletes. In attendance were representatives from Top Rank Boxing, Golden Boy Promotions, the Ultimate Fighting Championships and Bellator Fighting Championships.
One of the more interesting attendees was Senator John McCain, once a hardcore opponent of the sport of mixed martial arts. McCain has come around on the sport and discussed why he feels this study is so important (via Yahoo! Sports):
"These athletes are hear [sic] in support of their fellow athletes because they've seen the result of blows to the head," McCain said. "We all know that it is a problem. We all know that this study that is going to be conducted by one of the premier institutions in America, the Cleveland Clinic, is much needed. Because if we don't do this, then I'm afraid that support for these incredible, entertaining sports will wane on the part of the American people. So this study is much called for, particularly in boxing and MMA.
"I'm a dear friend, and I dare to say so is Harry [Reid], of one of the greatest boxers who ever lived, Muhammad Ali. I think all of us would agree that his present condition is at least partially, to some degree, [due] to the sustained blows to the head that this great, great, wonderful athlete sustained. His is just one of the stories and we owe it to the athletes who put it on the line in the most difficult and challenging of sports [to do this study]."
There are 400 fighters currently enrolled in the study.
MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas spoked to UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta about the study: