Combat sports are no stranger to injuries, and this is certainly true of mixed martial arts. While the current rules do a much better job of protecting fighters from serious injuries, bruises, bumps and cuts are part of the journey for an MMA fighter. Usually those types of injuries are as bad as it gets, but there are some classic examples of truly horrific injuries at MMA bouts.
While fans don’t really wish to see fighters hurt, there is undeniably a fascination with the unique injuries inflicted on MMA fighters. Perhaps even more impressive than the injuries themselves is the defiance of the fighters to succumb to these injuries. Case in point would be a match between Gabriel Gonzaga and Randy Couture during UFC 74 in 2007. During the third round, Gonzaga snaps Couture’s left ulna with a sharp kick, yet Couture just shifts his energy to his uninjured arm and ends up throwing Gonzaga down and punching him until the fights ends via TKO.
Broken bones are definitely not an unusual occurrence in MMA, and Frank Shamrock has been on both the giving and receiving end of bone breakage. Long ago, in the midst of a 1995 Pancrase bout, Shamrock locked onto his opponent Allan Goes’ ankle and literally just tore it off the tendons. Surprisingly, the bout ended in a draw with Goes continuing the battle all the way to the end. Three years later, Shamrock ended the career of Igor Zinoviev after he threw Zinoviev to the mat causing him to break his collarbone and knocking him unconscious during UFC 16. In 2008, Shamrock got a taste of his own medicine when his opponent Cung Le snapped Shamrock’s ulna.
Sometimes injuries look worse than they actually are, especially when your opponent is covered in his own blood. In a bout between BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson during UFC 80, Penn earned the honor of the Sherdog 2008 Beatdown of the Year after cutting open Stevenson’s head with a particular sharp elbow strike. Stevenson lived to fight another day, and in fact, another round against Penn before losing via submission. There are certainly worse fates. After a fight against Jorge Rivera, Nate Quarry had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery.
The Corey Hill-Dale Hart battle at the UFC Fight for the Troops Show in 2008 also goes down in infamy for one of the most horrible visuals in MMA. Hill was just a few minutes into the bout when he kicked at Hart’s leg. Hart blocked the kick with his knee, snapping the bone in two and literally leaving the bottom half of Hill’s leg dangling. Hill did return to the fighting in 2010, so sometimes even the worst looking injuries won’t end a career.
Each of the injuries listed above are the exception to the rule, and just unlikely breaks (literally) for the fighters. Most fighters experience bruises and cuts and sometimes muscle injuries, but there are definitely ways to limit injuries. Keeping your weight consistent and avoiding severe weight cuts can help keep your muscles strong, and this will limit your risk of injury. Proper stretching is extremely important and also will limit injuries. Neck and shoulder injuries are very common in mixed martial arts, but stretching before a fight can reduce the severity of these injuries.
They say you are what you eat, and a warrior needs to have a healthy diet in order to remain strong. In addition to having the fight skills and strong mental focus, your diet should be a key component to your life as a fighter. If possible, find a sports nutrition expert and draw up some diet plans to help keep you on the right track. Improving your skills as a fighter is another way to lessen your risk of injury. The better you are at anticipating your opponent’s next move, the easier it will be to avoid kicks and punches. When you are in control of the fight, your risk of getting hurt is significantly lower than if you are scrambling against an opponent.