why do mma fighters have big ears

why do mma fighters have big ears

Why Do MMA Fighters Have Big Ears?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters are known for their impressive physiques and battle scars, with one distinctive feature being their big ears. These cauliflower-like ears, also known as “cauliflower ear,” are a common occurrence among MMA fighters. In this article, we will explore the various reasons why MMA fighters often develop big ears.

1. Frequent Trauma to the Ears

MMA fighters engage in intense physical combat, which involves grappling, striking, and submission holds. As a result, they frequently experience trauma to their ears. During fights or training sessions, accidental hits or intense pressure on the ears can cause blood vessels to rupture, leading to the formation of hematoma.

Repeated trauma to the ears can cause the accumulation of blood and other fluids in the ear cartilage. If not properly treated, this can result in deformation and the characteristic swollen and misshapen appearance, commonly known as cauliflower ear.

2. Lack of Protective Gear

MMA fighters often train and compete without headgear or ear protection. Unlike other combat sports such as boxing or wrestling, where headgear is commonly used, MMA fighters rely on their natural abilities and agility. The absence of protective gear exposes their ears to direct impact, increasing the likelihood of ear trauma.

3. Grappling and Ground Fighting

MMA fighters frequently engage in grappling and ground fighting techniques, which involve close contact with their opponents. During these exchanges, there is a higher probability of accidental headbutts or rubbing against the opponent’s body, leading to ear injuries.

4. Submission Holds

Submission holds, such as the guillotine choke or the triangle choke, often involve applying pressure to the opponent’s head and neck. These techniques can inadvertently put pressure on the ears, resulting in trauma and potential damage to the ear cartilage.

5. Inadequate Ear Protection

Even though MMA fighters may use ear guards or headgear during training or competition, these protective measures may not provide sufficient protection against ear trauma. The intense and unpredictable nature of MMA fights can still cause accidental injuries to the ears, leading to the development of cauliflower ear.

6. Delayed or Improper Treatment

why do mma fighters have big ears

When MMA fighters experience ear trauma, prompt and appropriate medical treatment is crucial to prevent the formation of cauliflower ear. However, due to the demanding nature of their sport, fighters may delay seeking medical attention or receive inadequate treatment. This can exacerbate the condition and increase the chances of developing big ears.

7. Genetic Predisposition

Some individuals may be more genetically predisposed to developing cauliflower ear. Certain genetic factors can make the ear cartilage more susceptible to damage and deformation, even with minimal trauma. MMA fighters with this genetic predisposition may find it more challenging to prevent or avoid big ears.

8. Badge of Honor

Interestingly, some MMA fighters embrace their big ears as a badge of honor. These fighters view their cauliflower ears as a symbol of their dedication and commitment to the sport. They wear their battle scars proudly, considering them a mark of their toughness and experience in the MMA world.


MMA fighters often have big ears due to the frequent trauma they experience, the lack of protective gear, and the nature of their fighting techniques. The development of cauliflower ear can be influenced by genetic factors and the delay or improper treatment of ear injuries. While some fighters may see their big ears as a badge of honor, it is essential to prioritize ear protection and seek appropriate medical care to prevent and manage this condition.

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