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According to ABC News Jason “Mayhem” Miller was arrested on Monday morning for allegedly trespassing in a San Diego, California church and setting off fire extinguishers. The story also claims that Miller was found by police sitting naked on a couch. I am not seeking to pass any judgement on “Mayhem” who has not been proven guilty of anything, but these accusations do once again bring the mental health of a prominent Mixed Martial Artist into the public conscience. Sadly, the history of MMA is littered with fighters struggling to overcome personal demons and mental illness. In 2008 Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was arrested for a now famous police chase after which claims of mental fatigue and illness as a result of dehydration and exhaustion surfaced as an explanation for his actions. Karo Parysian has had a long, well-documented struggle with mental health issues which eventually led to his dismissal from the UFC when he pulled out of a fight with Dustin Hazelett the day before weigh-ins. Ian McCall almost lost his life to drug addiction. These are just a few of numerous cases, both inside the UFC and out, of fighters showing real mental instability which in a combat sports can jeopardize not just the fighters own health, but the health of his or her opponents which is tremendously serious. The fact is, the nature of a violent sport like MMA will naturally have a calling to some people with personal demons and mental issues and the martial arts have long been lauded for their ability to redirect troubled youth. It isn’t too hard to find someone on the UFC roster who will claim that MMA saved their life and that is a great thing. Yet, we do a disservice to the brave people who overcome such adversity if we don’t ensure their continued mental health and safety. The UFC’s health insurance coverage was a landmark moment for fighter care and safety, one that should be applauded, but it is primarily concerned with physical impairments incurred in the course of training. Perhaps it is time to take a step further and begin to evaluate the mental and emotional status of the athletes that risk their lives for our entertainment everyday. Perhaps mental health screenings or mandatory counseling are viable options for addressing the issue, I don’t know; and the logistics and economics of it I do not have an answer for either. But I do know that if even one instance like the Miller or Jackson incidents can be prevented then it must be worth it.

-Jed Meshew

    Jed Meshew is a Law Student and blogger for MMALinker.com. If you would like to contact him you can reach him on Twitter at @StanleyKael or via e-mail at [email protected]