If I may be so bold as to offer a prediction: We should expect to see more bearded athletes in MMA, boxing, kickboxing and other fight sports. Why?
Writing for Integrative Organismal Biology: A Journal of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology on the Oxford Academic website, E.A. Beseris, S.E. Naleway and D.R. Carrier posit that human males might have evolved a propensity to grow facial hair because it protects them in personal combat. Specifically, the presence of a beard could reduce the amount of energy that is transferred when fist strikes face.
Interestingly, the authors note that no supporting evidence came from their survey of MMA matches. Nevertheless, with the prize money at stake in the ring sports, any strategy that offers a chance to gain an advantage, however slight, is bound to be tried once word spreads.
Read the entire study here.