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Nevada to begin requiring all fighters to take neurological assessment before competing

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The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) is aiming to take a closer look at brain health in combat sports.

The commission passed a new rule in earnest this week requiring fighters to take a neurological assessment before they can compete in the state, MMA Fighting confirmed with executive director Bob Bennett.

The regulation is the first of its kind in the United States. It will be implemented beginning Aug. 1. The issue was first brought before the NAC in February. California is expected to pass similar rules this year as well.

Before being given a license to fight in Nevada, a fighter will have to submit the results of what is called a C-3 Test, an exam that is mostly designed to gain information. It's not necessarily about passing and failing. The assessment explores balance, reaction times, hand-eye coordination and dynamic visual activity.

The information gleaned from the exam will be put into a database, where a baseline will be formed for each fighter. Future C-3 Test results will be compared and contrasted to determine the evolution of a fighter's brain health.

"The health and safety of our unarmed combatants is a never-ending process," Bennett said.

C-3 Tests will be performed at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas at no cost to the fighter. The NAC has been in the process of working with the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. The Ruvo Center is years into a study on the brains of combat sports athletes and the UFC has donated millions of funds to the cause. Bellator's parent company Viacom and multiple boxing promotions have also donated to the study.

Beginning Aug. 1, a C-3 Test will be included in the requirements of fighters to get licensed, much like a physician's report; an eye test; an MRI/MRA; and CBC, HIV and hepatitis test results. A new C-3 Test must be submitted every time a fighter submits an application to be licensed. Athletes already licensed for 2016 will not need to submit C-3 results until next year.

In 2016 and 2017, if a fighter has not taken a C-3 assessment, representatives from the Cleveland Clinic will be on hand at weigh-ins to administer them.