I am trying to better understand what usually happens from a medical stand point when a fighter (MMA, boxer or otherwise) is rendered unconscious during a bout. Although unrealistic, to simplify things and keep this question focused, let's assume that the fighter has no other injuries and has only been rendered unconscious eg. via a sleeper hold.

At this point what usually happens to them as they lay there? For example, if they do not regain consciousness on their own I would assume a medical team will start trying to resuscitate them immediately, or is that up to the fighter's team to have someone that can do that onboard? Once successfully resuscitating them, does the fighter then have to spend some mandatory time in a hospital or in the care of some other physician to make sure they're ok, or are they free to head on home straight after the bout?

I've been watching a few greatest MMA knockouts videos and it has made me wonder how on Earth some of those guys get home afterwards.

1 Answer 1


Any sanctioned event will have event medical staff on hand to revive competitors immediately if they do not regain consciousness on their own. Medical staff may recommend hospital treatment.

There are two distinct cases for restricting activities afterward depending on how one becomes unconscious. I don't know what the guidelines are for MMA specifically, but here is what happens in boxing and judo:

  1. striking

    Here is what the England boxing association says:

If a boxer suffers a knockout with [sic] as a result of blows to the head or if the bout is stopped by the referee because the boxer has received heavy blows to the head, then the boxer may not take part in boxing or sparring for a period of at least 30 days afterward.

  1. choke

    The International Judo Federation Sport and Organization Rules say

If a cadet loses consciousness during shime-waza they are no longer able to continue in the competition.

Shime-waza are choking techniques, for example the sleeper hold, also known as the rear naked choke. Most competitions are one day only for competitors, and for most high level tournaments, if you lose once you are probably eliminated anyway (repechage starting from quarterfinals only).

As indicated by the difference in treatment, strikes to the head are considered very serious, while chokes are not as much. For a more complete discussion of choking and safety, see How dangerous is it to choke someone unconscious or to be choked unconscious?

  • Very helpful thank you
    – FrontEnd
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 5:03

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