why do mma fighters have deformed ears

why do mma fighters have deformed ears

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters are known for their intense and physically demanding sport. One distinctive feature that many MMA fighters have is deformed ears, commonly known as “cauliflower ears.” This article aims to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon from various perspectives.

1. Mechanism of Injury

MMA fighters often engage in close-quarters combat, which involves grappling, takedowns, and strikes. These actions frequently result in trauma to the ears. When the ear is subjected to repeated blunt force or compression, the blood vessels within the ear can rupture, leading to the accumulation of blood and subsequent formation of scar tissue.

2. Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu

Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are fundamental disciplines in MMA. These sports involve extensive ground fighting and grappling techniques that put significant pressure on the ears. The constant friction and compression during wrestling or BJJ training can cause the ears to become swollen and deformed over time.

why do mma fighters have deformed ears

3. Boxing and Striking

MMA fighters also incorporate boxing and striking techniques into their arsenal. Punches and strikes to the face and head can inadvertently impact the ears. The repeated trauma from punches can disrupt the blood flow and cause the formation of scar tissue, resulting in the characteristic cauliflower appearance.

4. Lack of Protective Gear

Unlike sports such as boxing or American football, MMA fighters do not typically wear headgear or ear protection. The absence of protective gear exposes the ears to direct impact, increasing the likelihood of ear deformities. The nature of the sport prioritizes freedom of movement and visibility over ear protection.

5. Training Intensity

MMA fighters undergo rigorous training sessions to prepare for their fights. These sessions often involve high-intensity sparring, where fighters simulate real fight scenarios. The intense training increases the risk of ear trauma due to the frequency and intensity of strikes and grappling maneuvers.

6. Delayed Treatment

Some fighters may not seek immediate medical attention for minor ear injuries. Ignoring or delaying treatment can exacerbate the condition, leading to further deformities. The lack of timely intervention allows blood to accumulate and harden, resulting in permanent changes to the ear’s shape.

7. Cult Status and Pride

For some MMA fighters, having deformed ears is a badge of honor and a symbol of their dedication to the sport. Cauliflower ears are often associated with toughness and resilience. Some fighters intentionally avoid seeking treatment to preserve their unique appearance and showcase their commitment to the sport.

8. Genetics and Individual Susceptibility

While the repeated trauma to the ears is the primary cause of deformities, individual genetic factors may also contribute to the formation of cauliflower ears. Some individuals may be more prone to developing scar tissue or have a slower healing process, making them more susceptible to ear deformities.


MMA fighters’ deformed ears, commonly known as cauliflower ears, are a result of the intense and physical nature of the sport. The combination of grappling, striking, lack of protective gear, and delayed treatment contributes to the formation of scar tissue and permanent ear deformities. Despite the potential risks, many fighters wear their cauliflower ears as a symbol of their dedication and toughness in the world of MMA.

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