Nieky Holzken, a contender in the ONE Lightweight Kickboxing division, is well aware of the challenges that come with competing professionally in mixed martial arts.
The long-term health and well-being of a boxer after retirement is probably the single most important worry of all of these issues.
Even though he has fought in innumerable wars over the years and has earned his fair share of battle scars, ‘The Natural’ reveals that he is also concerned about the state of his cognitive health.
In anticipation of his bout against Arian Sadikovic at ONE Fight Night 11, the fan-favorite fighter from the Netherlands participated in a recent Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit and answered questions on a wide variety of subjects.
But arguably the most interesting one was from the user @ModsBannedMyMainAcct, who asked him to comment on the issue that everyone was ignoring:
“Do you ever worry about the long-term effects of fighting, specifically the risk of CTE?”
Here’s Holzken’s answer:
“Haha, no, I don’t think about it at all, and when I retire from competition, I will also retire from sparring. I must have gone through a million rounds of fighting.”
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also referred to as CTE, is a neurodegenerative disease that can be caused by sustaining many head injuries or continual blows to the head.
Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, first brought this to the public’s attention in 2005, citing an earlier study he had conducted that focused on athletes from the National Football League (NFL).
On the other hand, due to the full-contact nature of combat sports, professional fighters are also quite susceptible to this brain disease. This is because of the nature of the sport itself.
For a living, fighters take blows to the head not only during their bouts, but also during the countless hours spent sparring with one another in training, which takes place behind closed doors.
Even Holzken, a seasoned veteran of the combat sports industry, has stated that if he decides to put up his gloves for good, he will no longer engage in sparring.
In the meantime, the 39-year-old appears to be in the best of health and is as sharp as ever as he prepares to defeat Sadikovic in the hopes of re-establishing his name on the short-list of candidates for the lightweight kickboxing gold.
Prime Video subscribers in North America do not have to pay to see ONE Fight Night 11, as it is included in their membership.