Why does the groin shot affect the fighter so much?
When a fighter receives a groin shot, it is usually not the pain inflicted on the penis, rather the testicles which brings the fighter to his knees. The testicles are heavily innervated and when they receive blunt force trauma, a parasympathetic response is triggered which causes a visceral pain and sometimes the feeling of nausea. A severe blow to the groin or likewise to the kidneys or liver can cause blood vessels to dilate and a drop in heart rate. This decreased blood flow can cause one to pass out. Inevitably, even if one does not lose consciousness, people lose their ability to stay upright. Other common symptoms from groin shots are dizziness and higher body temperature. If there is enough damage, the testicle can rupture or swell so great that it impedes blood flow which leads to a surgical emergency.
But what about cups?
If a cup is fitted correctly, a straight hit to the cup most likely will not affect the fighter because the force is distributed like a Roman arch. The trouble occurs with a lateral shot or an inferior to superior (south to north) blow. This may cause the cup to shift which will pinch the testicles. Cheap plastic and ill-fitted cups can crack and cause further complications by pinching the testicles or scrotum. Many advocate the use of Thai steel cups. The issue with using steel is it has less give than plastic. Therefore, if it shifts it may cause damage to the fighter.
Injuries in fights
The two kinds of injuries in competition which we cannot accept are eye pokes and groin shots. Pride Fighting Championship had curved gloves which limited the fighter’s ability to spread his fingers and thus into the eyes of an opponent, and Bellator teamed up with Everlast to create a similar glove. If you don’t think eye pokes are an issue, look at Michael Bisping’s eye before and after his detached retina. If you ever listen to the Joe Rogan Experience you have inevitably heard him talk ad nauseam about his ideas for changing the glove designs or even the prospect of not wearing gloves. Joe will bring up groin shots but usually to refer people to his cup of choice.
Why Groin Protection is a Priority in Competition
Better groin protection will promote not only a safer sport, but a more exciting one. Additionally, with well protected family jewels, male fighters will be more confident to throw the inside low kick. Many will attempt this kick but after one accidental groin shot, they will be warned and inevitably shy away to avoid a point deduction. We also incur the issue of fighters using the allotted five minutes to rest instead of actually recovering from a groin shot (see Warlley Alves vs Alan Jouban). Sure better refereeing will curtail this and luckily we haven’t seen it much. Much worse, we have seen the psychological disadvantage a fighter who received a groin shot has. A well placed or accidental groin shot can affect the fighter’s performance and have them scared of getting hit there again. This puts doubt in the fighter’s mind and can leave him vulnerable to other strikes (see Gabriel Gonzaga vs Chris Tuchscherer). Finally, a groin shot can end the night completely if you don’t believe me ask Crop Cop after eating a knee from Alistair Overeem.