Yeah, so everyone knows fighting in a cage can be dangerous to a fighter’s well-being (see: Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson in case you’re unclear). But apparently the training that goes into being sharp in the cage can be pretty freakin’ hard on the brain as well. No, I’m not talking about cutting weight – which everyone acknowledges sucks – I’m talking about hard sparring. Here’s mainstream publication the Newark Star-Ledger, which delved deep for their foray into MMA coverage:

But hidden from the excitement of fight night is a jarring world few outsiders see. The training, preparation and sparring required before even stepping into the chain-link-enclosed cage is unlike anything in sports, even boxing

It may sound like sensationalist tripe, but it gets better.

…Punches, kicks and knees are exchanged in training sessions that can turn more violent than blood-soaked fight nights. Some fighters spar three and four days a week and accept punishment beyond all conventional limits.

Daring fighters allow training partners to punch them in the face to test their chins. Smaller fighters take beatings from larger men to measure themselves. And injuries are routinely ignored or hidden.

Before you recoil at what sounds like garbage anecdotal statements, know that these Newark-Star Ledger guys spent six months going to Kurt Pellegrino’s gym and Ricardo Almeida’s gym, they shadowed fighters in training and at shows, and they interviewed a wealth of doctors and officials. One fighter even gave them this gem:

[George] Sullivan, too, has his horror stories. After training sessions, he says, “Sometimes I come home (and) I can’t talk. I’m not going to lie. It’s called being ‘punch drunk.’ You stutter your words.

“I’ve had it last as long as a day and a half. You’re thinking the word, but you just stutter it. You have that slur to you and you’re kind of like hazed. It literally feels like being drunk, only without the nauseous feeling.”

The article, while long, is definitely worth the read.