On Friday afternoon, the UFC announced a five-year extension of its partnership with Cleveland Clinic, and its support of the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study.

The multi-year commitment and $1million contribution to the clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas where the study is conducted, makes UFC the largest combat sport contributor to the study.

“Research and awareness are key in setting new standards for athlete health and safety,” said UFC Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein. “UFC is always looking for opportunities to invest in industry-leading health and wellness programs and providing resources to develop its athletes inside and outside the Octagon.”

Established in 2011, the Professional Fighters Brain Health is focused on developing methods to detect the earliest and most subtle signs of brain injury in athletes exposed to head trauma, as well as determining which individuals may be more likely to develop chronic neurological disorders. Now in its fifth year, researchers are confident the findings will benefit the safety and health of professional fighters as well as those exposed to repetitive head trauma in other sports and activities.

“We have learned quite a bit in the first four years of the study about how repetitive head trauma affects the brain and how we can detect accumulating injury,” said Charles Bernick, M.D., Associate Medical Director at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and principal investigator of the study said.

“The involvement of the fighting community and organizations like UFC will only help us better understand the field and protect our athletes. Their support has helped sustain the infrastructure of this very large study and will allow us to follow the participants over longer periods of time and develop ways to improve safety in combat sports, along with others exposed to repetitive head trauma.”

To date, the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study has enrolled nearly 600 active and retired athletes. Participation is voluntary, and fighters in the study receive free, ongoing assessments of their brain health and function, including MRI scans. Individual tests will be repeated annually for a minimum of four years.

About The Author

News Manager

José began his career as a mixed martial arts journalist while still enrolled at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Since graduating in May 2013, he has attended dozens of high profile UFC fight cards as a credentialed member of the media, providing live cage side coverage through his articles and videos. His work has appeared on UFC.com, ArizonaSports.com and AZCentral. He is also currently one of the main contributors on Power MMA Show at Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, one of the first all MMA radio shows on a major radio station.