The 21 Worst Cauliflower Ear Examples in MMA

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worst cauliflower ears.

Wanna look at some of the worst cauliflower ear examples on the internet? 

Well, you’ve landed on the right site. That’s something of a specialty of ours. 

And there’s good news. The results are in, and we’re proud to share with you the juicy findings. 

Worst Cauliflower Ears In MMA History

Here are the 19 worst (or best 😉 cauliflower ears you can find in the beautiful sport of MMA.

And in no particular order…

Michael Chandler Ears

Michael Chandler is celebrated for his explosive power and exceptional wrestling skills.

This former Bellator Lightweight Champion, and current UFC competitor, has made a name for himself through his high-profile fights and relentless drive.

He’s had epic battles with others on this list, including Justin Gaetje and Dustin Poirier.

Plus, some notable fights in Bellator against Eddie Alvarez and Benson Henderson.

As such, he has been one of the most explosive and entertaining fighters in modern MMA as well as one of the most cauliflowered.

tony ferguson and Michael Chandler Ears.

Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson is an eccentric yet formidable force in MMA. He’s revered for his unorthodox fighting style and incredible endurance. A former interim lightweight champion in the UFC, Ferguson’s name is synonymous with thrilling and grueling fights.

He certainly doesn’t have the worst cauliflower ears but is a longtime wrestler and wears it on his ears.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov is an unparalleled figure in MMA.

He’s famous for his undefeated record and his masterful ground-and-pound fighting style.

The former UFC lightweight champion hails from Dagestan, Russia, and is not only one of the greatest Russian UFC fighters of all time but of anywhere and from any time in the sport. He’s also one of the rare athletes who left the sport while on top and with little to no damage.

Besides his fuzzy hat and beard, his defining physical traits are his distinctly misshapen cauliflower ears. These result from countless hours of hard-fought sambo training and his lifelong passion for combat sports

Demetrious Johnson

One of the greatest fighters of all time, Demetrious is known for his technical brilliance and exceptional speed in the flyweight division.

He’s been a dominant force in both the UFC and ONE Championship, and despite being one of the shortest fighters in MMA, Johnson’s legacy in the sport is unrivaled.

His cauliflower ears, sculpted by countless hours of intense training and epic fights, are distinct, and he’s undeniably a great person because of it. 

Rafael Dos Anjos

Rafael Dos Anjos, a versatile and tenacious competitor in MMA, is known for his effective Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills.

The former UFC lightweight champion, originally from Brazil, has engaged in numerous high-profile bouts. In a Welterweight fight with Colby Covington, he almost lost his ear and had to undergo surgery after the fight.

Rafael Dos Anjos cauliflower ears.

Justin Gaethje

Justin Gaethje, a dominant lightweight fighter renowned for his performances in both the UFC and World Series of Fighting, is widely celebrated both for his action-packed fights and cauliflower ears.

His ears are a testament to his wrestling background and countless hours of intense combat training and fierce in-ring competitions.

And he has been known to drain his ears with a syringe before fights to reduce the swelling.

Dustin Poirier

Dustin Poirier, a formidable contender in MMA, is renowned for his striking prowess and durability in the octagon.

The American fighter has significantly impacted the UFC’s lightweight division. He’s been involved in some of the most thrilling fights in recent history.

Poirier’s distinct cauliflower ears, a result from his intense training and tough battles, are a visible emblem of his dedication and the toll that this high-impact sport often exacts on its athletes.

Conor Mcgregor

Conor McGregor, a charismatic and polarizing figure in MMA, is known for his exceptional striking ability and powerful left hand.

He’s the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight divisions and is the most famous UFC fighter ever.

And despite being primarily known as a striker, he’s still developed some pretty distinct cauliflower ears. They aren’t the worst cauliflower ears you’ll ever see, but they are there.

Just look at these bad boys staring back at us – his eyes and his ear.

conor mcgregor cauliflower ears.

Alexander Gustafsson

Swedish light-heavyweight fighter Alexander Gustafsson almost beat Jon Jones in 2013.

Only to be destroyed in the rematch. 

But he’ll always have that close decision. And his ears. 

Alexander Gustafsson cauliflower ears.

He’s an excellent fighter who, like Conor McGregor, is known for his striking and developed very distinct cauliflower ears while developing his wrestling and grappling skills.

George St. Pierre (GSP)

George St-Pierre, often called GSP, is a legendary figure in the realm of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

Known for his tenure in the UFC, this former two-division Canadian UFC fighting champion is revered for his exceptional athleticism, strategic fighting style, and relentless work ethic.

His dedication to the sport is physically embodied in his noticeably damaged ears, a classic example of cauliflower ears commonly seen among seasoned fighters.

George St. Pierre (GSP) cauliflower ears.

GSP’s hardened, gnarled ears testify to his years of intense training and formidable battles inside the octagon.

Dominick Cruz

Dominick Cruz, a decorated bantamweight fighter known for his unique footwork and fluid movement, is a prominent figure in MMA.

This former UFC champion has faced numerous battles within the octagon, with his years of intense training and competitive fights leaving a lasting mark – notably, his unmistakable cauliflower ears.

Cruz’s distorted ears are physical proof of his tenacity and determination throughout his career in this high-impact, contact sport.

Leslie Smith

Leslie is a female bantamweight fighter who has fought in the UFC and Bellator.

She has a very noticeable cauliflower ear on her right side that was infamously torn open by a punch from Jessica Eye in 2014.

And the fight was stopped via doctor stoppage because of it.

Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum, a dynamic middleweight competitor famed for his striking power and grappling prowess, has made his mark in the world of MMA.

Emerging from The Ultimate Fighter as a promising talent, he ascended to the elite levels of the UFC, including a fight with Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in arguably one of the greatest title fights of all time.

Gastelum’s cauliflower ears, significantly shaped by years of grueling training and intense fights, are evidence of his commitment and resilience in this demanding contact sport.

BJ Penn

BJ is a combat sport legend and a former UFC champion in two weight classes.

He is also known for having one of MMA’s most distinctive and spectacular cauliflower ears.

As shown in the video above, his left ear is almost completely closed off and looks like a lump of flesh.

Randy Couture

Randy Couture is a Hall of Famer and a former UFC champion in two weight classes.

He is widely regarded as a true pioneer in the sport. And helped coach the first season of The Ultimate Fighter alongside longtime rival Chuck Liddel.

He also has some of the worst cauliflower ears in MMA history. His ears are so damaged that they look like they have been melted.

Tom Lawlor

Tom Lawlor is a versatile MMA competitor known for his charismatic personality and solid ground game. He’s fought in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions.

Competing in the UFC and later moving to professional wrestling, Lawlor’s varied career has seen him endure many intense battles.

Tom Lawlor cauliflower ears.

His significantly altered cauliflower ears highlight his longtime commitment to grappling combat sports.

Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson is a renowned name in MMA, recognized for his overhand right and formidable strength in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

He’s a veteran of the sport with tenures in PRIDE, Strikeforce, and UFC. However, Henderson’s wrestling background and aggressive and relentless style have left him with notably gnarled cauliflower ears.

dan henderson cauliflower ears.

Emphasizing his tireless dedication and countless hours spent in high-intensity training and ferocious battles in the cage.

Kazushi Sakaraba

Sakaraba is a Japanese legend and a fan favorite who has fought in Pride FC, UFC, and Rizin.

He is known for his grappling skills and his epic battles with the Gracie family.

He also has some of the most gnarly cauliflower ears in MMA history. And in a fight with Marius Zaromskis, his right ear actually detached.

sakuraba cauliflower ear detached.

Here’s an image of the ear set to black and white for those with weak stomachs! But be forewarned, some images and videos below may hurt your tummy.

James Thompson

James Thompson was a British heavyweight fighter who competed in promotions such as Pride FC, Bellator, and KSW.

His massive cauliflower ear on his left side has been ruptured several times during his fights.

Including one particularly brutal event where Kimbo Slice popped his ear open.

It is so big that it hangs over his jawline.

Matt Lindland

Matt Lindland, a seasoned veteran in MMA, is respected for his superior wrestling ability and unyielding resilience.

While competing in various organizations, including the UFC, Lindland has repeatedly proven himself in this intense sport. And now, as a coach.

Matt Lindland cauliflower ears.

His remarkably pronounced cauliflower ears are mangled and mutilated from years of wrestling and fighting. 

Frankie Edgar

Former UFC lightweight champion and featherweight contender. Frankie has endured many tough battles, and his ears show it.

His left ear is especially swollen and misshapen. 

But it truly doesn’t matter, as he’s a true legend in the sport.

Frankie Edgar cauliflower ears.

What Causes Cauliflower Ears?

Also known as “wrestler’s ear,” cauliflower ear is a common injury and condition seen in MMA fighters, wrestlers, and other athletes who engage in full-contact sports, such as rugby players.

It occurs when the ear sustains a blow, causing a blood clot or other collection of fluid to develop under the skin.

This disrupts the normal flow of blood to the cartilage—the flexible, fibrous tissue that gives the ear its shape.

Without this blood supply, the cartilage can die, and as the body attempts to repair the damage, it may create new, malformed cartilage.

The result is a lumpy or swollen appearance often likened to a cauliflower, hence the name.

Repeated trauma to the ear increases the risk of cauliflower ear. That’s why it’s particularly common in sports where blows to the head are frequent, like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).

MMA fighters are especially prone to getting cauliflower ears because of the constant grappling, strikes, and friction that their ears endure during training and matches.

Many treat it as a badge of honor for their efforts and we salute them.

Ways To Prevent It 

Prevention typically involves protecting the ears during sports activities, such as wearing headgear designed to absorb and distribute the force of blows.

But if the ear does get injured, prompt medical attention can often prevent cauliflower ear.

For example, a doctor may drain the fluid, remove the clot, and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. But generally, this is a ‘permanent deformity’ if you want to call it that. Treating it after the fact typically requires reconstructive surgery.

Closing Up The Worst Cauliflower Ears

In MMA’s brutal and relentless world, cauliflower ears are badges of honor. They tell stories of intense training, hard-fought battles, and unwavering dedication.

As you can see above, these visible scars are often worn by the sport’s most celebrated warriors and symbolize the grueling journey each fighter undertakes in the quest for victory.

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We're a team of fight fans and martial arts practitioners. Many of us have been involved in martial arts our entire lives.