MMA is a brutal sport and one of the most common injuries is to a fighter’s ears. Many of the sport’s top fighters have some of the worst cauliflower ears that you’ll ever see.
Here is a list of fighters with the worst cauliflower ear in MMA history. Check out the list below and see how these fighters got their horrendous ears.
What is Cauliflower Ear?
For new MMA fans, you may not be familiar with the term “cauliflower ear.” This injury is caused when an ear is damaged, which causes the skin and cartilage of the ear to separate.
When this separation happens, blood fills the ear, creating a gross ball on the ear. As this blood ball hardens, it resembles a piece of cauliflower, which is how the injury got the name.
This injury is common within wrestling, BJJ, and MMA, which is why you see many fighters sporting these nasty ears.
Worst Cauliflower Ear
Rafael Dos Anjos
Starting off our list of the worst cauliflower ear in MMA is former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos. RDJ is one of the toughest fighters in the history of the sport.
The former champion is known for his grinding style and outworking his opponent. Due to his hard-nose style, Anjos developed some of the most notable cauliflower ears in the sport. These ears are a mark of his grit and toughness.
TUF winner and top middleweight contender, Kelvin Gastelum never shies away from a scrap. The UFC veteran never backs down from a fight and will take on any opponent at any time.
Gastelum has never been in a boring fight, which is why he has some of the worst cauliflower ear in MMA. You’ll never see Kelvin wearing a pair of earbuds with his damaged ears.
Khabib is arguably one of the greatest MMA fighters, who have ever lived. We rarely saw Khabib take damage in MMA, but his face in ears tell a different story.
Through years of sambo and wrestling, Nurmagomedov developed some noticeable cauliflower ears. These damaged ears gave him an even more terrifying presence in the cage.
The legend Dan Henderson has some of the worst cauliflower ear that you’ll ever see. However, like many on our list, Hendo got his ears from years of wrestling training.
Any time you saw the former Pride champion step into the ring or cage, the first thing you noticed was his ears. You don’t fight for decades in wrestling and MMA without getting a pair of cauliflower ears like Hendo has.
Ryan Hall is known for possessing some of the best BJJ skills of any fighter in the sport. Along with his ace Jiu-Jitsu skills, Hall also has some of the noticeable worst cauliflower ear in MMA.
From years of grappling training, you can see that Ryan’s ears have taken a beating. Particularly his right is, which is the most noticeably damaged of his ears.
Tony Ferguson has been in numerous wars in his long MMA career and his face shows all the scars. The most noticeable scars on Tony’s face are his ears, which have sustained heavy damage from years of fighting.
One of the most iconic images in the history of the UFC is Tony during one of his bloody wars. Sporting an evil grin as his face and cauliflower ears are covered in blood.
Frankie Edgar is a beloved warrior, who has been in some of the best fights in UFC history. Through those wars, the new UFC HoF inductee developed some of the worst cauliflower ears in MMA.
Edgar began developing his trademark damaged ears through his early wrestling training before transitioning to MMA. His cauliflower ears are a badge that Frankie earned through his years of fighting and training.
Alexander Gustafsson is arguably one of the best UFC fighters in history, who never won a world title. He also sports some of the worst cauliflower ears in MMA history.
The Mauler’s ears took quite a mauling throughout his MMA career. After watching his wars with Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira, you can see how the Swede got his trademark cauliflower ears.
Japanese MMA legend Kazuchi Sakuraba is one of the most beloved fighters in the history of the sport. He went through countless wars throughout his career and his body has been left battered from them.
One of his most noticeable injuries is his ear, which is one of the worst cases of cauliflower ear. His ear was so bad, it actually caused a stoppage in one of his matches.
This match took place in 2010 at a K-1 Dynamite event against KO artist Marius Zaromskis. Sakuraba took a shot to his cauliflower ear and it literally fell off and caused the fight to be stopped.
In the post-fight press conference, Sakuraba apologized to fans by stating: “Sorry guys. My ear fell off.”
Arguably one of the worst cauliflower ear in MMA history is owned by veteran fighter Leslie Smith. She had a noticeably bad case of cauliflower ear going into her bout against Jessica Eye at UFC 180.
Unfortunately for Smith, this ear would cause problems for her in the fight. During an exchange, Smith got hit with an overhand right to her large cauliflower ear.
Her ear literally exploded as blood sprayed on the mat. Smith’s ear was hanging off her head, which caused the doctor to stop the match. It was one of the most disgusting moments in UFc history.
James Thompson made history for having one of the worst cauliflower ear in MMA history. Even before his fight with Kimbo Slice, people were talking about his enormous cauliflower ear. Wondering if it would be an issue.
This would turn out to be a big issue as Kimbo landed a powerful right hand, causing the ear to explode. Thompson was irate as the fight doctor called a stop to the action and Slice was awarded the victory.
Many suspected foul play as to how Thompson was even allowed to enter the cage without getting his ear drained. Either way, this moment went down as one of the craziest moments in MMA history.
When discussing the worst cauliflower ears in MMA, there’s one fighter that everyone immediately brings up. MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture has arguably the worst cauliflower ears of any fighter ever.
After years of Greco-Roman wrestling and MMA, Randy doesn’t have ears. He has tiny gnarled balls of scar tissue, where his ears used to be.
If you were to look up cauliflower ears in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of Couture’s ears.