MMA Athletes: Why Do They Have Such Odd Ears?

UFC fighters are aware that there is a chance of them injuring themselves while competing or training. A cauliflower ear is one of the most common injuries seen in fighters.
The ears of fighters are exposed to repeated blows for a long time, and they spend a lot of time competing or sparring. The result is swollen and irritated ears.

What causes cauliflower ears?

Cauliflower ears aren’t something that happens overnight. They occur over time through repeated hits to the ear of an athlete. Cauliflower ears are most commonly caused by wrestling. However, this is a risky way to get them.

Repeated blows to the ear can cause blood clots to form that stop blood flow and prevent the body from absorbing the nutrients it needs. This causes scar tissue to form, resulting in an abnormal appearance of the athlete’s ears.

There are many ways to develop a cauliflower ear. However, MMA fighters have it the most frequently.

Prevention and Treatment

Wearing headgear over the ear during training is one of the best ways to prevent cauliflower ear. The headgear must be fitted appropriately. The ear can become irritated and be damaged if it is too loose. Conversely, if the headgear is too tight, the ear may be pressured and cause blood clots. You cannot guarantee prevention for fighters because you can’t compete against headgear.

An athlete can treat a blood clot in their ear if it starts before it becomes a cauliflower ear. An easy way to treat it is to apply an ice pack to the ear for about 15 minutes after training or fighting. If the problem is not treated quickly, a doctor may be able to remove any fluid in the ear that has blood clots. This will prevent future blockages and help heal the ear.

Fighters & Cauliflower Ear

It might seem odd that a cauliflower ear is desirable for MMA fighters. However, many consider it a badge or honor. Sometimes, fighters may deliberately damage their ears to obtain a cauliflower ear.

While not all fighters are willing to inflict injury on their ears, it’s common for a fighter to accept that they have a cauliflower ear and will not seek treatment. This is what fighters like because it makes them stand out and lets people know they are fighters.

Khabib Nurmagomedov, Alexander Gustafsson, and many other UFC fighters are known for embracing cauliflower.

Ramiz Brahimaj Injury

Ramiz Brahimaj, the UFC welterweight competitor, made his UFC debut against Max Griffin in November 2020. Brahimaj’s cauliflower ears were evident before the fight. However, this is common for MMA fighters.

Griffin’s elbow landing caused Brahimaj’s left ear to become detached. The referee pulled the action out of the ring at 2:26 into the third round. This was one of the most severe injuries in UFC history. It highlights the need to take all precautions to prevent a cauliflower ear.

UFC fighters with the worst cauliflower ears

This list is in random order.

1. Randy Couture

Randy Couture, the UFC’s first fighter to win two belts, won both the UFC Heavyweight Championship and the Light Heavyweight Championship. This made him an outstanding pioneer in the sport. In 1997, he was the third UFC Heavyweight champion.

Couture’s wrestling background shouldn’t surprise anyone. He has one of the most severe cases of cauliflower ears in UFC. Couture, one of the greatest UFC fighters ever, told ESPN in 2013 that “nobody takes into consideration the other stuff.” My ears are what’s famous.

2. Rafael Dos Anjos

Dos Anjos, a former UFC Champion with over 30 appearances in the octagon, is well-known for his fast-paced fighting style. Because he is willing to fight anyone at any time, the Brazilian is a favorite of fans. Dos Anjos’s experience and fighting style have seen him develop one of the most severe cases of cauliflower ears.

Due to the cumulative damage he has sustained over time, and his 37-year-old ear no longer looks like a human one. His UFC 225 fight against Colby Covington was one of his most severe ear injuries. His ear almost had to be ripped off his head.

3. Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall is a friendly fighter who could look the most intimidating in the UFC. The 37-year-old is one of the best BJJ fighters in UFC history and has submitted B.J. Penn took less than three minutes.

Hall’s cauliflower ears are the only way to tell if he is a professional fighter. Because most of his fights are on the ground, and he has been competing in BJJ for more than a decade, it is not surprising that he has developed cauliflower ears.

4. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Nurmagomedov, considered the greatest fighter in MMA history, was unbeaten and still holds the UFC Lightweight title. His’smesh fighting style was what made him famous. He would knock down his opponents and then beat them up.
Nurmagomedov, a former Lightweight champion, grew up wrestling in Dagestan. This is where he got his cauliflower ears. Nurmagomedov made a joke about his ears during a recent appearance on Full Send Podcast. He said that “with headphones, I have problem…they don’t stay in.”

5. Alexander Gustafsson

Gustafsson, a pioneer in European MMA, is the most remarkable Swedish MMA fighter. In his long career, Gustafsson fought 3 times for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. He faced the best in the Light Heavyweight division. He was part of the UFC Light Heavyweight weight title fight against Jon Jones in 2013 at UFC 165.

Gustafsson’s nickname, “The Mauler,” is what you need to know about his fights. Gustafsson has the most severe cauliflower ears. He also loves to fight, and 4 of his UFC fights earned him the Fight of the Night bonus.

6. Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson, a former PRIDE 2 division champion, has one of the most challenging punches in MMA’s history. Although he was raised as an Olympic wrestler, he switched to MMA in the latter half of his career due to his right hand.

Due to his wrestling background, ‘Hendo has one of the gnarliest sets in MMA history. He was a frequent participant in firefights, which would further damage an already severe case of cauliflower ears.

Due to the brutality of combat sports, most fighters have cauliflower ears. Having cauliflower ears may make getting a job in the field complex. It is essential to take every precaution possible to avoid developing cauliflower ears.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Can a cauliflower’s ear explode?

If the ear is hit enough times, it’s normal for a cauliflower to explode. This was the first time we witnessed it at a UFC fight. Leslie Smith’s left ear burst after Jessica Eye had placed a right hand on it.

Are cauliflower ears painful?

It is painful when someone first experiences a cauliflower ear. However, as time passes, the swelling becomes less severe and less painful.

Are there any fighters who have cauliflower ears?

It’s common for fighters to have cauliflower ears. It is common for fighters to have it, including Frankie Edgar and Colby Covington.

Shelby Reedy

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