A recent NYTimes article talks about a new plastic surgery that Marcus Davis (a Mainer like myself) and Nick Diaz have gotten plastic surgery to make their skin less likely to bleed when they’re struck on key locations on their faces. Basically, these guys apparently have sharp ridges that tend to rupture the skin when the face is struck. The doctor grinds these down smooth and sews the guys up again.
The story predicts that the surgey may become common in the sport: “Plastic surgery may become the norm for cut-prone fighters who are trying to prolong their careers.” The story says that boxers have been getting similar plastic surgery, whichwas news to me. The doctor who invented the surgury points out that MMA fighters often don’t getthe quality of stitching they should after they get cut: “The fighters sometimes receive suturing that is not suitable for athletes in a combat sport.”
On one hand, I like this, because cuts are one of the least conclusive and most disappointing ways to see a fight end. Some fighters use cutting as part of their strategy. This is weak, because it depends on the fact that there’s a referee and a fight doctor to step in and hand you the win. If the doctor didn’t stop the fight, it’s entirely possible the bleeding fighter could press on and win. Looking to cut is a way of gaming the rules, and I wouldn’t think of this kind of victory as a victory at all. Likewise, if fighters want to
So I don’t really have any reaction to this surgery specifically. We put vasoline on the fighters’ faces for the same purpose (that is, to prevent a glancing blow to open up a fight-ending cut). But it’ll be interesting to see what other kinds of surgery people try to get away with. We may someday have to draw a line between acceptable, preventative surgery and “performance-enhancing” procedures. I can’t think of such a procedure off the top of my head. Reinforced shins? Sharper elbows? Who knows?