While concussions and traumatic brain injuries have been a hot topic in sports for the past few years, we haven’t actually seen a large number of mixed martial artists step away from the sport on account of these issues. But Carlos Condit may be about to become the highest profile fighter to retire due to these issues. After his quick loss to Demian Maia at UFC on FOX 21, Condit questioned whether he would continue fighting. And now his manager Malki Kawa is giving us some more insight into his possible retirement.
“In reality, Carlos Condit has been in a lot of fights. He’s been doing this since he was 15 years old,” Kawa said on a recent episode of Chael Sonnen’s podcast. “He’s suffered a lot of concussion. He’s one of the few fighters I have who goes in and checks his brain and checks the damage assessed and all that.”
“He’s just looking at it like this: he took a hard shot from Maia and it caused him to like cradle up a bit and give him that position for him to lose and sink the rear-naked choke. The way I look at it is, if a fighter comes to me and says ‘Hey Malki, I don’t think I can take this much more damage, my head is the most important part of my body with my brain and I don’t think it can take any more damage’, I can’t argue with that.”
“I’m not talking about mentally being in it,” Kawa continued later in the interview. “I’m talking about the damage his brain is taking, not taking and being able to recover,” Kawa said. “It’s going to be all these little different things and he’s just looking at it right now like, look at me now I’m in my prime as a fighter and as a human being, and I got some symptoms. He wakes up sometimes and he’s got some headaches and he’s more worried about that than he is continuing to fight.”
This isn’t the first time someone near to Carlos has relayed his concerns about the damage he’s taken fighting. After winning Fight Of The Night but losing to then-champion Robbie Lawler in a violent brawl, Condit’s coach Mike Winkeljohn sounded troubled.
“We don’t want to win Fight of the Night,” he said. “That happened to be fight of the night, which totally sucks, because there is a lot of brain damage going on, and it’s definitely not worth $50,000 for that individual. Fans love it, everybody else loves it, but you pay for it. Hopefully you don’t, but you might be paying for that later in life. We’ve had that conversation many times before, where Carlos has thought, you know, ‘I’d like to get out of this and go forward in my life and be there for my family.'”
It’d be sad if Carlos Condit’s career is now over, but even worse if he continued and damaged his brain to the point where he couldn’t have a normal life post-retirement. Other UFC fighters who have stepped away from the sport due to fear of brain injury include Martin Kampmann, Jamie Varner, TJ Grant, Mac Danzig, Krzysztof Soszynski, and Nick Denis. We’re sure the list is much longer, but these guys have made their reasoning public, which is an important part in growing the discussion regarding brain trauma in the sport. And hopefully helping other fighters know when it’s time to hang ’em up.