Paulo Costa is one of the hardest hitters currently active in the sport of mixed martial arts, but it seems the 28-year old isn’t just aware of the damage he can give out, but also the damage he can receive.
We’re now more aware than ever that repeated trauma to the brain can chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and just what that can mean for athletes after retirement. Because of those concerns, Costa says he’s planning on getting out of the sport by the age of 36, and he’s also more than willing to donate his brain to science after he dies to help forward research into brain injuries.
“We know that the brain is made of cells that don’t regenerate anymore, we can only lose them. As you age, that amount of cells decreases, so your reflexes become slower, your speech becomes worse, you forget things,” Costa said, speaking to AGFight (as transcribed by BloodyElbow). “I do some research some times. There is Rose, from the Gracie family, she runs a brain donation campaign, for fighters, there’s a whole field of research about that. I want to make my career as soon as possible, conquer everything, then I don’t want to fight after I’m 36. I would gladly give them my brain.”
Fighter attitudes towards head trauma has evolved sufficiently over MMA’s young history, with the days of wars in the gym mostly behind us. According to Costa, he makes sure his preparation for fights is done as safely as possible, particularly with the knowledge repeated sparring can cause as many issues as the actual fights.
“That’s a pretty serious issue, because we don’t have the data to find out how much that can affect each of us,” Costa said. “Each one will have different symptoms and will react different to that amount of strikes, What you can do is fight in a way that minimizes those blows to the head. During a training session, you can wear protective gear, like helmets. That can really minimize the damage. I wear big gloves, I never spar in MMA gloves, I always wear 16-ounce gloves, so I can avoid strikes to the head.”