The sport of mixed martial arts has changed much in reputation, audience size and consideration of fighter safety since the first men and women took to an octagon cage more than 25 years ago. Just as it has for other sports, Sanford Health has partnered with key MMA athletes and organizations in an effort to be part of this growing phenomenon that promotes self-respect, self-discipline, self-defense and respect for others.
Sanford Health is sponsoring a professional team called Sanford Mixed Martial Arts that’s comprised of some of the top-ranked names in the business. It’s also opening a supporting clinic in Deerfield Beach, Fla., adjacent to the team training facility.
Veteran Sanford Health orthopedic surgeon Brad Reeves, M.D. will serve as the team’s exclusive medical director and physician, and will staff the clinic and travel with the team. Sanford Health will be the team’s exclusive health care sponsor and preferred provider.
The team includes roughly 40 fighters, 25 of whom fight within the largest three MMA promotions (UFC, Bellator and ONE), as well as former and current world champions. Fighters will adhere to a strict code of conduct imposed by team owners.
Besides providing care to those fighters in Florida and at Sanford Health’s flagship medical center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization also sponsors a number of MMA events. One card at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls drew a national viewing audience of nearly 123,000 households. A televised Bellator MMA fight in August 2018 at the same venue drew 245,000 households nationally.
Beyond bringing such events to MMA fans in the Midwest, the effort will help promote Sanford Health’s high level of care by making it a player in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of injuries related to the sport. The goal is to make the sport safer through care and concussion research, benefitting the fighters and thousands of other professional and amateur athletes Sanford Health treats every year.
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