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In historic move Kansas Athletic Commission adds brain health knowledge as requirement to compete in MMA

MMA fighters and corners will need to pass a test on CTE to compete in Kansas.

Junior dos Santos fought Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC Wichita in 2019.
Junior dos Santos fought Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC Wichita in 2019.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The Kansas Athletic Commission announced yesterday a ground-breaking decision that may help protect generations of combat sports athletes. That body revealed, in a press release, that they would now include knowledge of brain health as a requirement for licensing fighters, and their corners, to compete in the state (per Combat Sports Law).

In their release KAC announced they were partnering with the charity Fighting Foundation to add questions regarding concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) to license applications for fighters and corners. The move will mean that those involved in combat sports must educate themselves on the risks involved when it comes to brain injuries.

The full release is provided below:

Kansas Athletic Commission first in nation to adopt fighter and corner safety licensing protocols.

Board votes unanimously for sweeping licensing reform.

TOPEKA, KS. (May 10, 2022) – The Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC), led by departing Executive Director Adam Roorbach and interim Director Alejandra Prieto, unanimously passed a measure on Tuesday May 10th to implement fighter and corner safety licensing protocols that will bring potentially life-saving education to professional fighters and teams competing in the state of Kansas.

“The KAC unanimously approved for the development of concussion related questions to be added to our licensing process,” said Roorbach “educating fighters about concussions and CTE is paramount to our core mission of fighter safety and we applaud the Fighting Foundation for their work in this field and look forward to partnering together in the future.”

KAC is partnered with Fighting Foundation (501c3) on the development of the initiative that is designed to educate and test the knowledge of combat sports participants on the occupational hazards for purpose of licensing within the state. “There is no cure for CTE” said Fighting Foundation President Rose Gracie, “however there is a cure for ignorance and it starts with our allies in Kansas.”

Fighting Foundation is working with a number of state athletic commissions and fight promotions from around the world on similar reform. Gracie says, “Everybody has a role to play in weeding out brain health misinformation from combat sports. We are proud Kansas is doing their share.”

Known for their forward-leaning stance on combat sports reform, KAC is again first in the nation to institute a policy that reaches beyond the fighter, including the support team to protect the health and safety of combat sports participants.


About The Kansas Athletic Commission

The Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) was formed in 2005 and is in place to regulate combat sports within the state of Kansas and to promote fighter safety above all else. The commission regulates mixed martial arts, professional boxing, kickboxing and professional wrestling. Along with these combat sports, the commission also oversees Jiu-Jitsu and grappling tournaments around the state.

About Fighting Foundation 501c3

Fighting Foundation is a 501c3 formed in 2021 to focus on the health and safety of combat sports participants. Founded by combat sports legacy daughters Rose Gracie and Carla Duran in partnership with Lawyer Erik Magraken and Neurologist Dr. Renato Anghinah, the organization provides education, resources, treatment and research around the world in the combat sports space.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) are ever-present in full contact sports. TBIs include injuries like brain bleeds, which are caused when the brain violently shifts inside the skull causing blood vessels to sheer. This causes bleeding on the brain which results in pressure that is usually fatal unless immediate surgical intervention is performed. Dozens of boxers and MMA fighters have died from these injuries including UFC veteran Tim Hague.

Concussion is a word used to describe the common symptoms exhibited after some blows to the head. Those symptoms include loss of consciousness, dizziness, nausea and memory loss. Those symptoms are often observed after the brain has been forced to rotate within the skull. These types of injuries are included within the term mTBI. Blows to the head that do not result in typical symptoms of concussions are still mTBIs.

All blows to the head, concussive and non-concussive, have been shown to cause the release of a substance called pTau within the brain. pTau destroys parts of the brain, which leads to CTE. pTau has also been shown to cause Altzheimer’s Disease. Symptoms of CTE include vertigo, mental fog, mania, depression and suicidality.