Tyron Woodley’s rib injury suffered against Colby Covington on Saturday gave out a stark reminder as to just how dangerous MMA is.
Those who watch the sport will know just how serious some of the injuries that have occurred over the years are.
Whilst all of them look horrific on first view, most facial injuries or cuts can normally heal quickly with the aid of plastic surgery or stitches.
Others, however, such as Anderson Silva’s broken leg suffered against Chris Weidman at UFC 168, take slightly longer to recover from.
We’re going to look at the eight worst injuries during a UFC fight in the history of the promotion.
8. Alistair Overeem’s lip injury (vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik, UFC on ESPN, 2019)
Overeem’s busted lip suffered against Jairzinho Rozenstruik wasn’t perhaps the most serious, given that plastic surgery meant the injury had all-but healed two weeks later, but we’d wager that he was in considerable pain in the immediate aftermath.
The 39-year-old suffered a shock TKO defeat to Rozenstruik when the two met in December 2019, with the final blow coming with 11 seconds remaining and causing Overeem’s lip to explode.
He was immediately taken the hospital after the fight, and made his scheduled return to the cage in May this year, defeating Walt Harris by TKO.
7. Miesha Tate’s broken arm (vs Ronda Rousey, UFC Strikeforce, 2012)
Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey were locked in an intense battle for the women’s bantamweight championship when Rousey placed her opponent in a painful armbar.
Reigning champion Tate resisted and took her time to tap, in the process causing major damage to her arm.
Scans later revealed that she had indeed broken her arm, and she was out of action for several months.
6. Matt Mitrione’s head injury (vs Travis Browne, UFC Fight Night 81, 2016)
A third-round technical knockout defeat to Travis Browne at UFC Fight Night 81 was the least of Matt Mitrione’s worries.
The three-time Performance of the Night winner suffered a golf ball-like swelling above his right eye during the fight, which had to be quickly tended to by doctors.
Browne had gouged Mitrione’s eye twice in the early stages of the fight, and despite the large swelling and being unable to see out of the weakened eye, he was cleared to continue.
That meant he had little to defend with when Browne eventually knocked him down in round three, ending the fight.
5. Jon Jones’ dislocated toe (vs Chael Sonnen, UFC 158, 2013)
When Jon Jones suffered a toe injury against Chael Sonnen at UFC 158, it looked gruesome but could have been a lot worse.
Jones won the fight comfortably by TKO in round one, but suffered a big toe injury in the process.
The injury was revealed to be a dislocation rather than a full break, but nonetheless, given that the big toe is such a key part of a UFC fighter’s armoury, Jones was forced to undertake lengthy rehabilitation.
He returned in September of that year to take on Alexander Gustafsson, winning by unanimous decision.
4. Corey Hill’s broken leg (vs Dale Hartt, UFC Fight Night 16, 2008)
One of the most graphic injuries on this list, Hill suffered a horrific broken leg back in 2008 when attempting a leg kick on opponent Dale Hartt.
He made contact with Hartt, but in doing so snapped the lower part of his right leg.
Recovery from the injury took over a year, and Hill did not fight again until January 2010, in a unanimous decision victory over Jason Trzewieczynski.
Hill tragically passed away in 2015 at the age of 36 after suffering a collapsed lung and heart attack.
3. Leslie Smith’s ear injury (vs Jessica Eye, UFC 180, 2014)
We’ve seen many injuries to the ear in the history of the UFC, but not many where the ear has exploded.
That was the graphic fate that befell Leslie Smith in her fight against Jessica Eye, when a right hand from Eye struck her directly in the head.
Smith was already suffering from cauliflower ear before the fight, and the blow caused her ear to open up.
Despite this, Smith fought on and took a second blow to the same area before the fight was eventually stopped.
2. Anderson Silva’s broken leg (vs Chris Weidman, UFC 168, 2013)
Brazilian Silva suffered what can only be described as one of the worst leg breaks ever seen when he took on Chris Weidman at UFC 168.
Silva held the UFC middleweight belt for a record 2,457 days before he was defeated by Weidman in July 2013, and a rematch was scheduled for December of that year.
Weidman arguably won the first round, but Silva attempted to retaliate in round two with a number of leg kicks.
The first kick, however, was blocked by his opponent, and Silva’s left leg, from the shin, was broken on impact.
Having had surgery, including a titanium rod fitted, Silva returned to the sport after 13 months out to take on Nate Diaz in a controversial fight.
Silva originally won by unanimous decision but both fighters tested positive in later drug tests.
1. Michael Bisping’s eye injury (vs Vitor Belfort, UFC on FX: Belfort v Bisping, 2013)
Bisping initially suffered a detached retina in his right eye when fighting Belfort in the Octagon in 2013, after being hit by a head kick.
This would result in the eye being what he called “non-existent”, and he revealed last year that he’d had a prosthetic eyeball fitted.
Despite only having vision in one eye, Bisping went on to win a further 11 fights at the top level of UFC before eventually hanging up the gloves in 2018.
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