Six months after being struck dead by an alleged drunk driver, former Bellator MMA fighter 'Pretty Boy' Jordan Parsons, is the first fighter to be publicly diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
The diagnosis was made by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, after reviewing the findings of Dr. Julia K. Kofler, the neuropathologist who completed Parsons' autopsy. Notably, Omalu is Chris Nowinski's former partner with respect to research on degenerative brain disease. Also of note, Omalu's diagnosis in 2003 of CTE in the late professional football player Mike Webster resulted in the National Football League reaching a billion-dollar settlement with aggrieved players.
The diagnosis of degenerative brain disease in Parsons, as well as former ECW performers Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten, comes as WWE defends itself against concussion-related lawsuits lodged by former WWE performers.
WWE spokesperson, Brian Flinn, said that they would not comment on Omalu's diagnoses until it has reviewed the research on the matter. Moreover, Flinn suggested that Konstantine Kyros, a lawyer who represents over 60 professional wrestlers in a class action lawsuit against WWE, was hoping that the Parsons' CTE diagnosis would counter any negative publicity related to WWE's court motions for sanctions against Kyros for alleged improper conduct.
Kyros, who denies improper conduct in the WWE litigation, said he has no plans of pursuing Bellator in court as it relates to Parsons. The Hingham, Massachusetts lawyer claimed he obtained Parsons' brain as a means of exploring whether athletes from sports other than boxing, football, and hockey were in danger of CTE.
In the professional wrestling industry, WWE has banned many of the dangerous tactics that were commonplace when the likes of Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney, two professional wrestlers diagnosed with CTE, were swinging steel chairs and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire. Also, WWE now boasts positive results from its concussion management program that was established in 2008, which complements its industry-leading wellness policy.
Mahoney, whose real name was Jonathan Rechner, experienced memory issues, a symptom of CTE, before he died of a heart attack at his New Jersey home in April. Two months after Rechner's passing, Rotten, also known as Brian Knighton, was found dead of an accidental heroin overdose in Maryland.
Source: The Boston Globe