September 2011

Mixed martial arts fighter wins right to compete wearing prosthetic limb

In August, the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission awarded Shea Taylor, a 28-year-old transtibial amputee who wears an Össur prosthetic foot, an amateur mixed martial arts license. The MMA license clears the way for him to compete in a September 23 event in Atlanta, and makes him the first amputee granted a license to fight in a sanctioned event while wearing a prosthesis.

Taylor began his amateur mixed martial arts career in 2009, earning a 3-0 amateur MMA record in his first year. Following a motorcycle accident and 12 subsequent surgeries, Taylor chose to have his left leg amputated below the knee in December.

According to Taylor, returning to the gym and the MMA cage motivated him after his accident. Seven days after taking his first steps on a prosthetic leg, Taylor appeared before the state athletic and entertainment commission to petition board members for approval to fight while wearing his prosthesis. The board required Taylor to submit videos of his training in the prosthesis to show his physical capabilities and required the prosthetic device to pass criteria for safety set by their orthopedic surgeon.

Finally, to show his skill level and receive the license, Taylor fought several rounds with Andy Foster, the board’s executive director and former professional Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor.

“From a stand up perspective, I see no activity he can’t perform. From a grappling perspective, he’s above average and moves very well,” Foster said.

Taylor’s prosthetist, Stephen Schulte, CP, said, “Shea’s amazingly fast rehab is a testament to many facets, number one being his unwavering focus. He’s taken the mental conditioning that comes with limb loss and applied it to his competitive side.”

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