The Cauliflower Ears of MMA
Often times, you can tell someone is a fighter just by looking at their ears. The mark of a combat sports specialist, especially grapplers, is large, misshapen ears caused by fluid build-up after cartilage breaks in the ear. It’s an unmistakable condition and almost all fighters will have cauliflower ear at some point in their MMA career.
Fighters with cauliflower ears usually have tons of medical issues, from hearing problems over huge medical expenses. While the condition can be remedied by draining the fluid from the ear, often times fighters opt to keep their cauliflower ear, as it’s bound to happen again anyway.
Cauliflower ears are believed to be the trademark of wrestling superstars and many MMA fighters in the world. There is no mercy inside the octagon. A fighter who is ready to leave his soul inside let the last drop of his blood, or gamble with the last atom of his power has bigger chances of winning the match.
During fights, especially while clinching, submissions, and ground and pound game, fighters often apply the tremendous amount of pressure on opponent’s ears. While you are fighting for your life, trying to be the winner, some rules are getting broken accidentally. Dirty fighters stick to intentional fouls during their fights, and ear pulling and pressuring are just some of them.
Here is our choice of the most interesting cauliflower ears. Detached appendages and blood-bursting punches might make you throw up. In some situations, ear might explode and divide into two parts!
A former four-time UFC Lightweight champion comes with the wrestling background and mostly tries to take the fight to the ground. Despite he hasn’t received some extremely brutal punishment during his career, Edgar is known for the ears of a real gladiator. Especially his left ear has some very strange curves.
The combination of submission offense and ground and pound sessions has left him different. Frankie Edgar has never had any problem during competitions due to his ears.
Alexander Gustafsson fought for the UFC Light Heavyweight title twice, but he was defeated, both by Jon Bones Jones and Daniel Cormier. He is a fighter with great submission wrestling base but punches are his main weapon.
Mauler’s cauliflower ears remind you on a huge bump on the road which could be dangerous even for a skillful driver. Gustafsson is very proud of his cauliflower ears cause he believes it makes him a warrior. His second nickname is Viking, a connection is easy to find.
The former UFC Lightweight champion has the smallest ears you have ever seen. During his fights, it is believed that some people were even putting bets when his ear will be ripped off.
BJ has received many strikes and defended multiple choke attempts. Despite he is a striker by nature, he did not remain spared from consequences. Don’t forget he is a 5th dan black belt in BJJ.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
The popular Minotauro has spent more than 15 years inside the octagon, and even become Pride champion despite doctors said he will never walk again after a car accident he survived as a 10-year-old. His ears look like a minefield ready to blow.
He has been a UFC champion and won some difficult life battles. This man doesn’t know what giving up means. Nogueira is an example of Spartan in all aspects of life.
Rafael dos Anjos
RDA is known for his BJJ skills and superb Muay Thai. The former UFC Lightweight champion has always been a better grappler but his boxing skills were suddenly improved during 2017. Today, he is one of the most aggressive and dominant UFC superstars.
Probably the main guilt for his ears is his BJJ competitions, where he has a 3rd-degree black belt. This dangerous look of Rafael dos Anjos goes with his fighting style.
When you take a look at Dan Henderson, he looks like a professional street bully with half of his teeth missing. Nevertheless, his ears are worldwide known. This old-style school wrestler has finished career in 2016 as the second oldest fighter to compete in the UFC.
He is known for amazing throws, brutal ground-and-pound, and one weakness – submission defense. Maybe this is the reason why his opponents were using his ears to their advantage.
This MMA veteran is ranked high for a good reason. During his match with Kimbo Slice at Elite XC: Primetime 2008, his ear was literally punched off his head.
Thompson’s left ear almost snapped and was nearly separated to upper and lower part, which made Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight and claim Kimbo Slice as a TKO winner. The amount of blood and disgust could be measured with some horror movies.
Leslie Smith is a blue belt in BJJ, and a member of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu team. She is a world-class ground fighter and a former Invicta FC Flyweight division runner-up.
She is definitively the girl who knows how to handle the pain. Her cauliflower ear exploded at UFC 180 when Jessica Eye delivered brutal right hand straight to it. Leslie begged the referee to let her continue, but Jessica was announced for the winner due to doctor stoppage. What is Leslie Smith made of?
She will always be remembered for one of the most disgusting scenes inside the octagon – her left ear was peeled back.
Kazushi’s fight with Marius Zaromskis is known for almost ripping his left ear off. His ear injury during Dynamite 2010 was horrific. Sakuraba went for a double leg takedown, and his ear rubbed up against Zaromskis.
The referee stopped the fight immediately, and Sakuraba’s ear was bandaged. He was winning that fight but Zaromskis won the fight via TKO. Kazushi Sakuraba came very close to losing his ear that day!
Randy is a symbol and a trademark of MMA cauliflower ears. The Natural literally has no ears, he faces hearing problems every day. His ears remind more of some strange fruit slices. Randy’s ear canal is a lot narrower compared to the regular human.
Randy has made a career for pushing the head into opponents chest and taking them down to the ground. This former UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight division champion made his UFC debut right after the set of rules, which allowed hair pulling, headbutts and elbows to the back of the head, was changed.
His opponents didn’t have a legal solution for his legendary throws and ground and pound game. The only way to stop him was putting some additional pressure or discomfort on his ears. At that time, many referees didn’t penalize that kind of dirty move.
He is a classic fighter with a background in Greco-Roman wrestling and he is not a fan of BJJ headgear. It is not hard to guess why.