Explaining the Weird UFC Fighter Ears

What is with the fighter ears in UFC and why do UFC fighters have big ears? The popularity of these questions is almost the same as the UFC event itself. But experienced athletes know that this ear phenomenon is actually not only about the UFC fighter ears.

We will not be greatly mistaken if say that the UFC fighters get their broken ears even before they sign up a contract with the promotion or get into the UFC cage.

Why do UFC fighters have weird ears?

UFC fighter ears
MMA fighter ears: Randy Couture, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Demetrious Johnson, Jamie Mullarkey; Caption from Google Images

The weird ears are called fighters ears, cauliflower ears, rugby ears, wrestlers’ ears, etc.

No matter how you name it, the ears will have the same shape. Despite the funny name, it’s actually a trauma that without an opportune treatment can worsen the athlete’s life.

The scientific medical term for cauliflower ears is a perichondrial hematoma.

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What is perichondrial hematoma?

And what causes cauliflower ear?

Perichondrium means “around the cartilage” and it is a layer of dense connective tissue that surrounds the cartilage.

Perichondrial hematoma is trauma caused by ear injury due to a hit, compression, or torsion. The ear deformation caused by the perichondrial hematoma is called cauliflower ear.

When the ear is hitten, the skin separates from the cartilage. Under the skin collects fluid and blood that causes the hematoma. It creates circumstances when the clot in the ear blocks the flow of blood and nutrients to the cartilage.

As a result, may form scar tissue, which gives a deformed look to the ear that is called cauliflower ear.

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How to prevent cauliflower ear

The cauliflower ear can be prevented by timely treatment. Timely treatment is usually meant:

  • The first aid would be to cool the trauma applying ice for 10-15-minute intervals. It will help to reduce the era’s swelling. If the trauma is not major it may prevent cauliflower ears
  • Draining the fluid and blood from the ear with a syringe so blood can again flow to the damaged tissues.

Video: Saulo Ribeiro drains his student’s ear

In some cases, there is a need to make a small incision. No need to mention that this procedure should be done by a doctor.

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UFC fighters ears

The MMA fighters’ ears are a popular search on the internet.

Conor McGregor ears

Conor McGregor ears
Conor McGregor ears; caption from Google Images
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What is wrong with Khabib ear?

It’s all the same, it’s all about the wrestling ears.

khabib nurmagomedov ear
Khabib Nurmagomedov ears; caption from Google Images
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Randy Couture Ear

randy couture ear
Randy Couture ear; caption from Google Images
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Anthony Hernandez UFC ears

anthony hernandez ufc ears
Anthony Hernandez UFC ears; caption from Google Images
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Why do wrestlers get cauliflower ear?

The story with the wrestling ears is the same as in other sports or activities that can cause the perichondrial hematoma. A blunt trauma, that happened under any circumstances, is enough to get this kind of ear damage.

Even children can suffer from cauliflower ear in their daily life contact activities. This can happen if the child accidentally hits his or her ear against the other’s head or elbow. Often the consequence of this injury is damage to the perichondrium of the ear, which is also known as cauliflower ear.

Cauliflower Ears children
Children’s Cauliflower Ears; pic chop.edu

And for parents is nothing left as to bring the child to the doctor for a cauliflower ear drain procedure.

Even more, our beloved friends – dogs – are also at the risk to get cauliflower ears.

cauliflower ear dog
Cauliflower ears and dogs; Caption from Google Images

So the MMA and UFC fighters are not unique in having weird ears.

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Do boxers get cauliflower ear?

Of course.

The judo, jiu jitsu, wrestlers, and any other contact and combat athletes get cauliflower ears. Even more, the rugby player too.

cauliflower ears rugby images
Cauliflower ears rugby images; Screenshot from Google Images
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Is cauliflower ear dangerous?

When talking about cauliflower ears the word “dangerous” may sound exaggerated. Let’s call it a very unpleasant effect.

So what very unpleasant effects can cause the UFC fighter ears?

1. One of the dangerous aspects of the fighters’ ears is that it increases the risk to get the perichondrial hematoma again.

Why? Because after the first trauma the ears can be deformed and become bigger. UFC fighter with big ears tends to suffer from the wrestler’s ears more often as the ears become an easier target to hit.

2. MMA ears can create unpleasant practical issues in daily life such as cleaning the ear from the wax or etc., so the person may experience some ear infections more often than others.

3. Wearing headphones can be another unpleasant limited option.

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The earphones for cauliflower ears issue

Wearing headphones in severe cases of wrestlers’ ears can be really a challenge. And sometimes when you see UFC fighters’ big ears you may ask “Can people with cauliflower ears use earphones at all?”.

Jiu Jitsu meme about cauliflower ears headphones
Jiu Jitsu meme about cauliflower ears

Luckily in the 21st century, technologies are developing for any occasion and need so even fighters with severely damaged ears can find a decision.

One of the best earphones for cauliflower ears can be the bone conduction headphones technologies. And one of the leaders in the market are the headphones by the AfterShokz brand.

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Does cauliflower ear affect hearing?

In general, even untreated cauliflower ear can be harmless and cause any further complications. But exceptions as always are present.

There is a study Association Between Hearing Loss And Cauliflower Ear in Wrestlers published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine in 2015. The study shows that fighters with cauliflower ears are more likely to suffer from hearing loss that can be caused by the risk of infection. Also, the swelled ear can physically block the hearing.

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Can you fix cauliflower ears?

Can cauliflower ears be corrected at all? If the perichondrial hematoma is “established”, meaning the ears have deformed permanently as a real cauliflower, there is a way to fix them surgically. It is possible not in all cases, but at least there is a chance.

This corrective surgery is called otoplasty. It’s a surgical operation to restore or enhance the appearance of an ear.

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How much is surgery for cauliflower ear?

According to the statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for cauliflower ear surgery is $3736, not including the anesthesia or other expenses.

Cauliflower ear before and after surgery

Cauliflower ear correction
Cauliflower ear correction; Caption from Google Images
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The worst cauliflower ear UFC cases

The worst cauliflower ears are those, that explode. It happens not so often, but in the UFC video archives, there are quite enough examples to close your face with your palms while watching.

The cauliflower ear explosion by James Thompson

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Leslie Smith ear explosion

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The Shia LaBeouf ears issue

What is about the Shia LaBeouf cauliflower ears? Are they real? This question is remaining in trend on the internet for a couple of years already. Actually, since the movie Tax Collector was released in 2020 where the Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf appeared with fighters’ ears.

After some investigation, the internet community came to the answer no, Shia LaBeouf’s ears are fake.

shia labeouf cauliflower ears
Does Shia LaBeouf have cauliflower ear for real?; Screenshot from ‘Tax Collector’ trailer
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“Welcome to the club of UFC ears”

Adam Sandler “UFC Ears” song on the Netflix Is A Joke

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