cauliflower ear

Why MMA Fighters Have Disfigured Ears? (And How to Avoid Them)

Disfigured swollen ears with MMA fighters come from repeatedly hitting, slapping, striking, grabbing, pulling, or otherwise ripping when training MMA. They are commonly called Cauliflower ears.

It is not just MMA fighters who can get disfigured cauliflower ears (sometimes referred to as badges of honor), depending on how you see it.

BJJ practitioners, wrestlers, and any sort of striking sports enthusiasts may also be in danger of getting cauliflower ears if they are not wearing head and ear protection and other safety matters.

If you start to develop a cauliflower ear, in the early stages, it is still possible to save the ear and make it return to normal. If, however, you do nothing about it, the condition is permanent. The name “cauliflower ear” comes from the look of the ear after the damage; it looks somewhat like a cauliflower.

How do disfigured cauliflower ears develop?

MMA fighters’ cauliflower ears develop from being constantly under stress when training in martial arts. That might be against the floor while grappling or taking hits during an MMA or boxing session.

As for today, I am not a doctor or medical professional. Therefore, I let someone who has more insight about the medical part of this let you know how cauliflower ears develop in UFC and MMA fighters down in the video below.

How to avoid getting cauliflower ear when training in martial arts?

The best way to avoid getting cauliflower ear is to wear proper head protection while training. If you train in a sport where it is difficult to keep some sort of ear and head protection such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, just by taking the sparring sessions, a little bit lighter can go a long way.

I have heard that some people use wrestling helmets or rugby helmets to protect their heads and ears while training for BJJ or other grappling sports. These things can also help if you have longer hair and prevent it from blocking your vision. More about training BJJ with long hair in this post.

If you start to develop cauliflower ear due to training trauma or any other reason, do not waste any time. The more time you let it develop, the more likely it is to stay. Contact your local medical professionals, the sooner the better. According to some sources, six hours is the ideal time to get it treated.

Do all MMA and UFC fighters have cauliflower ears?

No, all of the professional MMA and UFC fighters do not have cauliflower ears. Although many professional fighters do have swollen ears, they can be prevented. Some people are also more prone to developing cauliflower ears than others.

It also depends on the training style and how willing you are to take action against developing disfigured fighter ears.

Cauliflower ears are also seen in some circles as badges of honor for wrestlers and other martial arts. Some people like the tough look that they give you, whereas others think they are disgusting.

Final thoughts

Cauliflower ears can not be missed if watching UFC fight. Chances are, just by going to your regular MMA or BJJ gym, you will find someone with cauliflower ears.

Whether you like them or not, there are some perks and disadvantages to having cauliflower ears. They, especially when they are developing, can be very painful to sleep with. It also can take time to get used to after they develop, when wearing headphones or sleeping by your side.

Some people think they look cool, and if you have cauliflower ears, you might seem tougher and scare off someone who wants to pick a fight, just by the look of your ears.

Other MMA-related posts can be found here.

Other BJJ-related posts can be found here.

Hopefully this was helpful to you, have a nice day.


What is MMA?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that combines all the aspects of fighting, such as striking, grappling and ground fighting. The MMA fighters usually have a background in several different martial arts.

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