13 Worst Injuries in UFC History (Gruesome)

While the UFC has done an amazing job in making MMA as safe as possible, sadly deaths and injuries are inevitable in the game of MMA.

In this article, we’ll look at the worst UFC injuries of all time, how long it took each injury to heal, the medical suspensions given, and the time until their next fight.

13 Worst Injuries in UFC History

Here are the 13 worst UFC injuries in nearly 30 years since the promotion’s inception in 1993, ordered by UFC event. All fights can be watched on UFC Fight Pass.

Dale Hartt vs Corey Hill (UFC FN:16 – December 10, 2008)

In the second round, Hill threw a right low kick to the outside of Hartt’s leg, but Hartt checked the kick so it connected below the knee, directly on the uppermost dense part of the shin bone.

Hill had fractured both his tibia and fibula and after his surgery, he was told he’d forever walk with a limp and never fight again.

However, Hill was expected to be out for between 12-18 months, and he made a full recovery and fought again on Jan 23rd, 2010, 13 months later.

Frank Mir vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 140 – December 10, 2011)

After being knocked down by a Nogueira 2-punch combination and some excellent scrambling from both, Mir latched onto Nogueira’s arm and attempted a kimura.

In this sport, it’s either tap or snap, and unfortunately for Nogueira, it was both this time. Nogueira received a 60-day medical suspension, with UFC officials saying he’ll recover within 9 months.

Nogueira suffered a fracture to his humerus and had a plate and 16 screws inserted into his arm to aid in his recovery.

His next fight was on October 13, 2012, 12 months after the break. In his next 4 fights, Nogueira went 1-3, with him saying the arm break ended his career because he couldn’t perform the same way he did before the break; with him ultimately retiring in 2015.

Vitor Belfort vs Michael Bisping (UFC on FX 7 – January 19, 2013)

This didn’t seem like one of the worst injuries in UFC history after Belfort stopped Bisping via TKO in the second round. However, as a result of the head kick, Bisping had a detached retina of the right eye.

Despite Dana White saying Bisping’s career is over, Bisping managed to get cleared and get another fight scheduled just three months after on April 27, 2013. This added fuel to the fire, and would eventually lead Bisping to lose his eyesight in his right eye.

Michael Bisping fought the rest of his UFC career with only one eye where he amazingly became the undisputed UFC middleweight champion. A further scare to his left eye after a fight with Kelvin Gastelum in 2017 caused him to hang up his gloves, where he turned his attention towards UFC commentary and podcasting.

Jon Jones vs Chael Sonnen (UFC 159 – April 27, 2013)

Jones rolled his big toe when clinching with Sonnen in the first round, halfway through.

Jones said that he didn’t feel any pain due to the adrenaline rush, and the injury went unnoticed until his post-fight interview. 

It’s lucky he got the knockout in the first round, as it’s possible he would’ve lost via doctor stoppage if the fight continued.

Following the fight, Jon was suspended indefinitely, requiring orthopedic clearance before he could fight again.

His ligaments were destroyed but it was actually just a dislocation, taking 6-8 weeks to heal, with his next fight on September 21, 2013, 5 months after the injury.

Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman 2 (UFC 168 – December 28, 2013)

By far the worst leg break in UFC history, Weidman checked a low left kick from Silva in the second round causing his leg to break and bend to the left at a 90-degree angle.

Weidman’s coach was worried about how his fighter wasn’t checking Silva’s leg kicks in the first title fight, so it was something they’d worked on for this fight; proving to be a match-winning check and causing one of the worst injuries in UFC history.

Silva had broken both his tibia and fibula and required a titanium rod put into his leg to repair it.

Silva was given a 6-month medical suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and Silva required all 6 months for his leg to heal before he could train fully. His next fight was 13 months after the injury on 31st January 2015.

After Anderson returned, he went 1-5-1NC, eventually retiring from the UFC in late 2020. This injury can be considered the point which ended Anderson’s UFC career, as he was never the same after it.

Jessica Eye vs Leslie Smith (UFC 180 – November 15, 2014)

The worst injury in UFC regarding ears, Eye threw a powerful 3-punch combination, finished with a right cross that landed directly to Smith’s ear. The shot caused blood to spray into the air, because her cauliflower ear had pooled with blood in one of her training sessions, and wasn’t drained before this fight against Eye.

The cutwoman did a great job of sealing her ear as best as she could, and was given an extra minute as an injury timeout. However, a minute and a half into the second round after a barrage of punches, Herb Dean stopped the fight to have her ear checked again.

Despite Leslie protesting that she wanted to continue, the fight was ended via doctor stoppage, meaning Eye won by TKO.

Ending the fight via doctor stoppage was absolutely necessary, as her ear was literally hanging off her head.

After the fight, the doctor stitched up her ear backstage and she was given a minimum 50-day suspension before she could fight again. Her ear healed during this time, and she next fought in March 2016, 4 months after the injury.

Travis Browne vs Matt Mitrione (UFC FN:81 – January 17, 2016)

Travis being the slightly taller guy was using his reach to probe Matt and was doing so with fingers pointed out. Without any warnings from the referee, Matt was eye poked at the end of the first round, causing the ringside physician to inspect his eye.

Matt then landed big shots early in the second round, with Travis again poking him in the eye to defend. Still, the referee missed it and the fight continued until Matt complained he was seeing double and the referee stopped the fight 30 seconds after the foul.

Again the ringside physicians checked his eye and the fight continued. Travis then landed a huge right straight which caused Matt’s eye to start swelling up, aided by the two earlier eye pokes.

Travis won the fight in the third via TKO, and Matt’s eye was huge. It was discovered after the fight Matt had a broken orbital floor.

In the aftermath, Matt was one of six fighters that night given a 6-month suspension from fighting by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.

This loss was Matt Mitrione’s last fight in the UFC as he joined Bellator soon after, fighting next on June 14, 2016, 5 months after the eye injury.

Vicente Luque vs Mike Perry (UFC FN:156 – August 10, 2019)

Deep into the third round in a fight that most believe Mike Perry was winning, Luque landed a devastating right flying knee, brutally breaking Perry’s nose and causing blood to flood.

Not only was it extremely bloody, but Mike’s nose had completely bent and moved to the right, more or less touching his cheek.

Perry underwent surgery immediately after the bout and was given a 6-month suspension pending clearance from an otolaryngologist, with a minimum no contest of 2 months.

However, his next fight was on December 14, 2019, 4 months later, as his recovery went well and he was cleared to fight sooner.

Alistair Overeem vs Jairzinho Rozenstruick (UFC on ESPN 7 – December 7, 2019)

This was the worst lip injury ever and one of the worst UFC cuts. Alistair was on the cusp of winning the fight via a decision by outscoring Jairzinho throughout the fight.

However, this style of fighting came back to bite him in the lip, as with only 5 seconds left in the fifth round, Jairzinho stalked Alistair to the cage and connected a left straight and lethal right hook, which he put his whole body weight into.

This was accompanied by some questionable refereeing and decision-making by Jairzinho. After the right hook connected, cutting Alistair’s lip and sending him crashing to the canvas, Jairzinho turned around to celebrate, despite Alistair immediately standing up.

With only a few seconds left, Dan Miragliotta was seen unsure of what to do, at first going to pull Jairzinho away, and then seemingly waving off Alistair based on Jairzinho’s celebrations. Ultimately, Jairzinho should’ve continued hitting Alistair, but because he didn’t the fight should’ve ended with the horn.

Somehow the man is still smiling. And why wouldn’t he be? Just 12 days later he looked like it’d never happened, and his next fight was on May 16, 2020, just 5 months later.

Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 248 – March 8, 2020)

Voted as the greatest women’s UFC fight, it was a back-and-forth contest leading Joanna Jedrzejczyk to develop a huge hematoma on her forehead. It first became apparent in the third round, where Zhang blasted it with plenty more punches in the next 10 minutes, making it one of the worst head injuries.

As can be seen from the picture, her nose was also broken and bent to the left; and she was left looking like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Luckily for her, she quickly had plastic surgery in Poland, which helped the swelling reduce in 2 days and the bruising be gone within 2 weeks.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission gave her only a 2 month’s suspension until May 5th, the same time as Zhang Weili.

At the time the injury looked horrific, but in the end, it healed very fast. Joanna’s next fight was the rematch against Zhang at UFC 275, 28 months later. 

Her lengthy period away from the octagon wasn’t anything to do with the injury and was to do with wanting to reschedule a rematch with Zhang.

Uriah Hall vs Chris Weidman (UFC 261 – April 24, 2021)

In a sick twist of fate, 7 years and 4 months after Anderson Silva’s leg break against him, Chris was now the one to horrifically break his leg.

With the first kick just 17 seconds into his fight against Uriah Hall, Weidman’s shin connected with Hall’s shin, just under the knee.

What made this worse was how he stepped back on his foot, causing it to bend to the left at a 20-degree angle to his leg.

Weidman was suspended from the octagon for 6 months, but somehow back in training within 54 days. However, his leg was fully protected and he was practicing his boxing.

Chris said he wanted to have another fight by June 2022, but unfortunately, he’s set to have another surgery on August 11, 2022, where his tibia needs to be plated as it’s currently considered a nonunion.

Some might argue Chris didn’t take his recovery seriously enough and was back in training too soon. Others consider nonunion bad luck.

It could be up to and over 2 years before Chris Weidman is back in the octagon; that’s if he decides not to retire over complications with his recovery.

However, as with Anderson Silva, Chris is likely to come back a lesser fighter and will retire or get released after too many losses.

Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor 3 (UFC 264 – July 11, 2021)

With 10 seconds left in the first round, Conor McGregor fell backward with his left leg completely giving way, just above the ankle.

McGregor was extremely kick-heavy in this third fight after Poirier used kicks with great success against him in their second fight.

In the post-fight interview, Poirier believed he weakened McGregor’s leg with checks earlier in the round, which McGregor obviously denied.

McGregor’s coach believed the teep kick thrown by his fighter just seconds before he fell back, was the cause of the injury. Despite the uncertainty around what caused it, it’s certain that it caused one of the worst injuries in UFC history.

It was a lower tibia and fibula fracture, and McGregor received a 6-month medical suspension after the fight.

At the end of February 2022, McGregor said he felt healed and ready to fight again, but that he’s not allowed to spar until April. With it now being July, it’s looking likely the break will keep him out for around 18 months or more.

Although unknown, it’s likely this break has ended Conor McGregor’s UFC career. We’ve seen the same with Silva who wasn’t the same fighter upon returning, and Weidman who’s yet to return over a year later.

He’s also lost 3 out of his 4 last fights, and the break is only going to negatively affect his future performances.

Ion Cutelaba vs Devin Smith (UFC FN:192 – September 18, 2021)

In the second round with just over a minute left, Cutelaba landed a powerful knee to the mouth of Smith while he had him against the cage.

In the rest period at the end of the second round, Smith was seen asking his team and his father whether he should continue because his bottom gums and teeth had been pushed into his mouth. The ringside physician was also contemplating a doctor stoppage.

Somehow he continued but lost the fight by unanimous decision.

He had to have a wire in his mouth, acting as temporary braces for his teeth and gums to heal. Clark was given a 6-month medical suspension due to the injury, with no contact allowed until March 18; unless he could get cleared to fight earlier by a maxillofacial surgeon.

However, his next fight was on April 16, 2022, 6 months after the injury; meaning his gums healed in 3-4 months before he could train again for his upcoming fight.

To Conclude

There have been many hundreds of gruesome injuries in the UFC, but these are easily 13 of the worst.

While disgusting at the time, breaks are also the worst injuries long-term and cause many careers to go on a negative trajectory. That’s if they return from the break.

And while many people want to become UFC fighters in the modern-day, seeing injuries and mortalities make people question this path. It’s extremely hard work and a fighter’s health is at risk.

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