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Athletic commission releases results of investigation into Alexander Gustafsson’s removal from UFC on Fuel 9

alexander-gustafsson - THEMAULER.COMUFC President Dana White ripped into the Swedish regulatory board overseeing last weekend’s UFC on Fuel 9 lineup in Stockholm after the event’s conclusion, calling into question a number of their decisions related to the health of the card’s competitors. At the root of White’s ire was the removal of Alexander Gustafsson from the show based on a cut he’d suffered about a week out from his main event match-up with Gegard Mousasi, especially when considering both Mousasi and Ross Pearson mentioned semi-serious pre-fight injuries they’d been cleared with.

Though the SMMAF didn’t comment on Pearson or Mousasi, the athletic commission did investigate the decision to pull Gustafsson based on the Swedish star seemingly being healthy enough to fight despite their previous ruling to pull him. According to a statement translated by MMANYTT, a detailed review of the situation produced the same result as their initial finding. In summation, Gustafsson’s cut may have appeared healed but was still fragile and his long-term health could have been at risk had they allowed him to mix it up with Mousasi.

Read the complete report below:

On Saturday the 30th of March a SMMAF doctor examined Mr. Alexander Gustafsson and forwarded images of the injury, pre and post sutures, to two other SMMAF doctors. Together they made the assessment that Gustafsson’s injury was of such a nature that he would not be able to compete nor partake in full–contact sparring for another six weeks or more without risking further injury and that it was highly unlikely that he would be cleared at the medical check the day before the match. The cut was both wide and deep and in a sensitive area. Consequently, he could not at that time be deemed fit to safely compete in the match. It was formally decided on the 2nd of April that Gustafsson´s match was stopped through the ruling of the Medical Committee. Questions have been raised regarding the assessment of the Medical Committee and the SMMAF board has requested we supply the Federation with a formal clarification on the details of the decision.

After 48 hours a sutured wound is re-epithelialized, meaning that there is a thin layer of cells covering it. Wound strength gradually increases during the healing process, and after 2 weeks a wound has less than 10% of its final healed strength. By this time, most superficial or percutaneous closure materials are removed, and the resulting wound has little to rely on for strength unless additional support is available. Additional support in this case would be tape but that is not allowed during an MMA match according to SMMAF rules. At this point the scar is more or less visible to the naked eye, but the damaged tissue is not healed. Wound strength increases to 20% by 3 weeks and to 50% by 4 weeks. At 3-6 months, a wound achieves its maximum strength, which is 70-80% of that of normal skin.

In the event of a wound of this nature, it will be enough with only a moderate impact in the eye area for the wound to open up again. In elite level contact sports it is highly probable for that to occur and thus causing the wound to bleed profusely, escalated by the fact that in this stage of the healing process there is an increase of vascular density in the surrounding tissue. The bleeding would be of such intensity that a stoppage of the match is highly likely, since the vision would be occluded.

The long-term consequences are hard to predict, but repeated damage to a wound with less than 10% strength will likely cause muscular damage. In this case this entails damage to orbicularis occulis, levator and palpebrae superioris, i.e. the muscles controlling the eye lid, which could lead to a permanently decreased function of the eye lid, commonly referred to as a lazy eye (medical term ptosis).

Had the Medical Committee not been asked to examine the wound at this early stage nor been privy to information regarding the injury, there is a possibility that Gustafsson might have been cleared at an inspection on April 5th. The extent to which a wound of this type appears healed after a week will vary. However, such speculation is not relevant in this case since the Medical Committee had in fact already performed an examination. Consequently; letting an athlete compete in an elite level full contact sport based on what appears to be a healed scar, but fully informed of the fact that the injury is far from healed and the obvious risks that come with it, would be a severe breach of medical ethics as well as in this respect also against the law.

Finally the Medical Committee would like to comment on the time-line of events. Normally a SMMAF doctor will see the athlete for the first time on the day before the match at the medical check. However unusual as this case was, there is nothing in the SMMAF regulations that prevents a SMMAF doctor to see an athlete earlier than the day before the match. Furthermore there is nothing in the SMMAF regulations that prevents the Medical Committee to make a decision earlier than on the night before a match. If an athlete’s team contacts the SMMAF because of a medical situation that has arisen it would be unethical for the Federation to turn its back on that athlete and not perform a medical examination immediately.


  • Richard Stabone says:

    So the athletic commission errored on the side of fighter safety while Dana errored on the side of…money. What a shocker.

    And I’d speculate that Sweden being a new market means Dana & the UFC haven’t had a chance to sink their hooks in and generate any real pull with the athletic commission (wink, wink), and when Dana has zero control/influence in a situation he’s gonna be pissy.

  • AlphaOmega says:

    Pretty much Richard, but you know if the commission had sided with letting Gustafsson fight, and the cut had been busted over and over again and had led to muscle damage or eye damage like the drs predicted, Dana would be all over bitching at the commission.

  • Mad_Hatter_XX says:

    I don’t know if I buy the inference of corruption, but see the reaction of Dana as more of a knee jerk reaction.

    He built up this fight between two lesser known fighters and had a very bright prospect booked for a hometown showcase and it all fell apart on fight week.

    Did you expect cartwheels and champagne?

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Dana could have lamented the UFC’s shitty luck and left it at that. But instead he attacked the commission, basically questioning their competency. And that’s where I boiled it down to the commission erroring on the side of fighter saftey while Dana (wanted to) error on the side of money.

    I’m just not a fan of guys fighting if they have significant injuries. It affects the quality of the fight, and if a guy competing with an injury loses it can screw up the division. We saw it with the most recent Mousasi fight. Dana was praising the situation, saying something like “that’s what it’s all about” in reference to a guy fighting with a bum knee and putting on a dud of a performance at least partially due to his physical limitations. Another example was the first Cain-JDS fight. That fight should have been postponed as both guys were injured, but it was the inaugural FOX event that had been hyped to the max and the show had to go on. As fans we got a shitty main event, Cain got the only loss on his career record while competing on a bum knee where he entered the fight above his usual weight, and so on. It’s just not a good situation, but Dana is always going to push for the option that is in the UFC’s best interest and makes the most money. And based on his attack of the Swedish athletic commission, I have to believe he’s used to being able to smooth things over with the commissions. Not necessarily corruption, but not necessarily an independent commission making decisions solely based on the medical information available and not whether a UFC main event is going to be jeopardized.


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