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For MIMO OFDM data detection, maximum-likelihood detection (MLD) has the best performance of all the detection algorithms. However, the involved computational complexity is prohibitively high for practical applications. In this paper, by optimizing trade-off between BER performance and computational complexity, we propose a combined detection scheme for MIMO OFDM systems. The combined method comprises sorted QR decomposition (SQRD), MLD, sphere decoding (SD), and back substitution (BS). Simulation results and analyses show that the proposed technique has better performance than comparable designs.