Death is indeed a clumsy thing of the night that is showcased in the morning.
Bellator fighter, Jordan Parsons has been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), after he died 6 months ago in a hit-and-run accident in Florida, according to a report by The Boston Globe.
The report that was released on Thursday stated that Parsons, who was 25 at the time of his death, was the first mixed martial artist to be publically diagnosed with CTE.
The diagnosis that was revealed to the Globe by Dr Bennet Omalu, was announced on the same day that Dr Omalu disclosed the postmortem discovery of CTE in the brains of former WWE superstar Balls Mahoney.
Dr Omalu, who is a forensic pathologist, revealed that signs of early stages of the disease were also discovered in Mahoney’s tag-team partner Axl Rotten (Brian Knighton). Dr Omalu discovered the first case of CTE in an NFL player in 2003 and a pro-wrestler in 2007.
In an interview, Dr Omalu pushed for awareness of the disease in MMA after Parsons’ diagnosis.
“These findings confirm that the danger of exposure to CTE is not limited to just football, hockey, and wrestling. Mixed martial arts is also a dangerous sport, and it’s time for everyone to embrace the truth.’’
Known colloquially as being ‘punch drunk’, CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease, that develops in those who have had ‘severe’ or repeated blows to the head. It can only be officially diagnosed post-mortem, through direct tissue examination.
Balls Mahoney, whose real name was Jon Rechner, is the third pro-wrestler to be diagnosed with the disease and the first since 2009. According to the report, the autopsies of both wrestlers and Parsons were conducted by Dr Julia K. Kofler, a neuropathologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian; which is associated with Omalu’s charity.
Rechner reportedly had memory problems, a symptom of CTE, before he died of a heart-attack in April in New Jersey. Suzanne Rechner, his mother, said that this should serve as a warning to other wrestlers and that ‘WWE, just like the NFL should take care of its people’.
Axl Rotten on the other hand, who died of a heroin overdose, suffered from severe physical and mental problems from his years as a pro-wrestler according to his family.
Omalu insisted that the CTE could not have been the direct cause of Parsons’ death, as it is a ‘chronic disease that develops over time’. However, the doctor endorsed Kofler’s findings and urged everyone related to high contact sports, where athletes are likely to receive severe blows to the head, to come together and find a solution.
In reaction to the fighter’s demise, a statement was released by Bellator president Scott Cocker to the Globe:
“Jordan was a shining star in this sport and a beloved member of the Bellator family who we miss very much and we continue to honor through the ‘Jordan Parsons Memorial Scholarship Fund’.”
Parsons may be the first martial artist to be diagnosed with CTE, however, WWE has many employees who are reported to have degenerative brain conditions brought on by repeated blows to the head.
The diagnosis of the first MMA fighter could also leave promotions like the UFC and Bellator wide open to lawsuits much like the NFL at present.