Can MMA Fighters Fix Their Ears?

Why Do MMA Fighters Have Unusual Ears?

Due to the strikes to their ears, which cause them to cramp up, MMA fighters have unusual ears, called cauliflower ears. There are techniques to reduce the damage and improve the appearance of the ears, but most fighters like them as they are.

Due to the trauma the ears suffer during grappling training, such as wrestling or jiu-jitsu, MMA athletes have strange looking ears. When they use their head to lean on their opponent during grappling training, a hematoma forms on the outside of their ear, which expands to give their ears that bulbous appearance.

What is Cauliflower Ear? And How Do You Get It?

A perichondrial hematoma is the medical term for cauliflower ear, but fighters prefer to keep things simple, therefore cauliflower ear is a preferable term to use. 

So, as you surely know, grappling in martial arts refers to any type of conflict that does not involve strikes. Takedowns, throws, pins, and submissions are examples of moves that can be practiced. This differs from striking in that the two combatants are in constant contact, whereas striking only makes contact when you hit.

Because the ears won’t necessarily grow puffy after a few strikes, the increased contact is important in this circumstance. Wrestling and jiu-jitsu are both full of persistent and repetitive pressure and trauma.

In grappling, head placement is critical since it may be utilized to control your opponent. Because the two warriors are vying for control of the other’s body, they must maneuver and impose their will on their opponent with whichever limb they have.

During takedowns, the ear can also be hit. When a wrestler goes in for a single leg, their ear collides with their opponent’s leg, sometimes on the shin’s hard bone. In addition, if there is a scramble during the takedown, the wrestler may wind up with his ear on the mat or in another unusual position. Of course, because grappling exchanges are tighter and more active than striking exchanges, there are various positions in which the ear will be impacted.

Due to the significance of dominating an opponent, grapplers’ ears are exposed to a lot of friction as they strive to acquire the dominant position. When two wrestlers with single collar ties compete for control while their heads are ear-to-ear, this is a wonderful example. When you have one arm wrapped over the opponent’s neck, it’s known as a single collar tie.

Although cauliflower ears are most commonly associated with MMA fighters, they are seen on many athletes outside of the sport as well. The truth is that they have a high chance of developing in any close-contact sport, and you can get them even if you don’t participate in such activities. Let’s have a look at how cauliflower ears are made.

When the ear cartilage is damaged by inflammation or trauma, the blood supply is disrupted, and blood has nowhere to go, resulting in the formation of a hematoma. Because the cartilage is separated from the perichondrium above it, nutrients cannot reach it, and it dies. Fibrous tissue replaces cartilage, giving the ear a new appearance.

How Do You Prevent Cauliflower Ear?

Wearing protective headgear during any activity that involves close contact is the only way to prevent cauliflower ears.

Even more crucial is getting the correct size of headgear that fits you completely, because a helmet that doesn’t fit properly might cause more harm than good. The biggest issue is that professional MMA fighters are not permitted to wear headgear during fights, thus most of them forgo the choice while training. Other possibilities include using tape or receiving immediate care after a trauma to reduce scarring.

How Are Cauliflower Ears Treated?

Treatment is mostly determined by the extent and scope of the deformity, as well as the length of time after the event occurred. 

Because the outer ear cannot be easily destroyed, any trauma that causes this type of damage must be addressed carefully to ensure that no serious intracranial injuries are missed. A thorough head and neck examination, including a cranial nerve examination, assessment of the tympanic membranes, and a detailed neurologic examination, is the first step in treatment. 

Now that everything is out of the way, the ear therapy may begin. Because cartilage death has not yet occurred, the best time to treat the ear is up to six hours after the injury. An 18-gauge needle is inserted into the hematoma after the medical worker anesthetizes the ear with lidocaine. If the patient seeks medical help beyond the 6-hour window, a more severe therapy is required. Aspiration has the highest success rate. If this is the case, any coagulated blood must be removed through an invasive incision.

The most aggravating aspect of treating cauliflower ear is the possibility of recurrence. Even if all of the coagulated blood is removed and the perichondrium is able to reattach to the cartilage, blood may re-accumulate. It will appear as if nothing has been done, especially if the patient is a professional athlete who cannot afford to miss training camp.

Do All MMA Fighters Have Cauliflower Ear?

Not all MMA fighters have cauliflower ears, because some fighters simply don’t form cauliflower ears.

Some of the most notorious fighters however, do have it. That list includes top fighters such as Dominick Cruz, Michael Bisping, Frankie Edgar, Alexander Gustafsson, Conor McGregor, Kelvin Gastelum, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Michael Chiesa, just to name a few! 

Final Thoughts

If you participate in any type of contact sport, you run the risk of acquiring cauliflower ear.

With that in mind, helmets can be used to protect your hearing, but their application is limited. Most MMA fighters have cauliflower ears and proudly wear them, so if you obtain one, you should either do the same or get it professionally removed. It’s entirely up to you.