Why Do MMA Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears? (Explained In Detail)

In the wrestling world, there is a common injury called cauliflower ears. If you are a fan of MMA and closely follow games, you will see these “weird” ears often. If this is the first time you’re hearing about them, here is a photo for your reference: 

Why Do MMA Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears

These nasty little things are even more awful when you know they can pop open! Then blood is everywhere, and it is quite gnarly. But why do MMA fighters have cauliflower ears? Today’s article will tell you. So, keep reading! 

Why Do MMA Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears?

Simply put, MMA fighters have cauliflower ears because their ears regularly endure external force that kills the tissues in their ear cartilage. Their ears redden, get bruised, and swell up, eventually looking something like this: 

MMA Fighters & Cauliflower Ears 

What Are Cauliflower Ears Exactly? 

They are essentially ear deformities or defects – a consequence of MMA fighting. They happen when the ears are struck, and blood clots form between the upper part of the ear and the cartilage. 

To MMA fighters, they are just something that happens; they are not too big of a deal. Most of the time, they are harmless. But, sometimes, they can be severe, affecting hearing and even the ability to use earphones/earbuds. 

Cauliflower ears are sustained in sports with rough scrummaging in general. So, aside from MMA fighting, rugby players, boxers, and wrestlers also get them. It’s also why these players are almost always equipped with protective headgear.  

Read Our Review about : best mouthguard for mma boxing muaythai

In the MMA circuit, many fighters “wear” cauliflower ears as badges of honor, as they indicate that the fighter puts his blood, sweat, tears (and ears) into a game. They are also a sign of battle experience and toughness – a warning beam: hey, stay away from me or you wouldn’t mess with me

Many teen or junior fighters even try to get them on purpose! However, alas, it is important not to forget that cauliflower ears are permanent. If you do not give the ears timely medical care, your ears will likely be deformed permanently. 

Why Do MMA Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears 2

Why Do Cauliflower Ears Occur? 

Building from our answer from above, here are details to make the explanation a bit more extensive: 

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting is an intense sport. It is aggressive, so injuries are not uncommon. There is a lot of punching, grappling, and just overall striking. All these inflict external pressure and force on different parts of the body, including the ears. 

When this occurs, a small blood clot is formed between the connective tissue of the upper ear and the cartilage. The small clot restricts blood from flowing to the cartilage, which, in turn, damages and kills off the tissues. 

These tissues lump up into grotesque curls that heal themselves by forming new, tougher fibrous tissue. Amidst this process, the ears take up a “cauliflower” look. 

How Can You Fix Cauliflower Ears? 

If MMA fighters have permanent cauliflower ears, the only way to fix it is through Otoplasty, which is a type of cosmetic ear surgery. It is a relatively simple, quick, and non-risky procedure that repairs and reshapes the outer ear.  

Note: The entire procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours.

In essence, the doctor will make a cut behind your ear, take away parts of your cartilage, and reshape the ear with stitches. Throughout this, you will be given an anesthetic so you will not feel any pain. Afterward, you can expect to return to training in 6 weeks. 

Watch more here. 

How To Avoid Cauliflower Ears? 

Even though you have the safe option of Otoplasty, prevention is still better than cure. So, how to avoid cauliflower ears? Get fitting headgear, and do not skip out on them during training. The key point here is “fitting”. 

Your headgear must not be too loose or too tight because then, your ears cannot be safeguarded. Tight headgear will constantly rub against your ears and actually lead to deformed ears, while loose headgear can slip out of place and expose the ears. Thus, make sure you get headgear that fits you comfortably and securely! 

Read More: Why Do MMA Fighters Put Vaseline? – A Comprehensive Answer Here


You should now know the answer to, “Why do MMA fighters have cauliflower ears?” and be armed with other relevant information on this topic. If you have any other thoughts you would like to share or questions to ask, be sure to reach out to us in the comments below. 

We also welcome any personal stories. So if you have had cauliflower ears, know someone who does, have gotten an Otoplasty for deformed ears, or know other helpful tips on how to avoid getting them, please leave them in the comments! 

Leave a Comment