Why Are UFC Fighters’ Feet Yellow? (6 Possible Causes)

If you’ve seen your fair share of UFC events, you’ve likely noticed the yellow soles of UFC fighters. Most UFC fighters don’t have yellow feet, but when you see a fighter with yellow feet, it can be hard to unsee.

In this article, we go over all the possible causes of why UFC fighters may have yellow feet.

Why Are UFC Fighters’ Feet Yellow?

The yellowing of UFC fighters’ feet is primarily due to the interaction with the Octagon canvas, where materials and chemicals react with sweat and skin during fights.

Other causes include Raynaud’s phenomenon, which may affect skin conditions under stress, dietary factors like carotenemia from carotenoid-rich foods, the development of calluses from intense training, and the impact of lighting at UFC events, which can alter color perceptions in broadcasts.

Let’s take a closer look at all possible causes.

1. Interaction with the Octagon Canvas

The primary cause seems to be the interaction between the fighters’ feet and the Octagon canvas. 

The materials and chemicals used on the canvas, combined with the fighters’ sweat and friction during a fight, could lead to a reaction that causes yellow discoloration. 

This explanation is consistent across fighters and aligns with their experiences of needing intense cleaning post-fight.

When Ronda Rousey was seen with yellow and purple feet after her knockout loss to Holly Holm in 2015, Julie Kedzie responded by saying that she often had yellow soles due to the rubbing of the feet on the Octagon canvas.

She also believed that being cold was a contributing factor to UFC fighters having yellow feet.

She finished by saying she would scrub her feet after a fight to remove the yellow discoloration.

2. Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is characterized by reduced blood flow in response to cold or stress, leading to skin discoloration.

While it typically results in white, blue, or red skin, indirect effects could contribute to yellow discoloration. Also, when the skin turns white, it can sometimes appear yellow.

UFC fighters are exposed to high-stress situations, especially when fighting in front of millions of viewers, and varying temperatures, and might experience Raynaud’s symptoms because of this.

This condition could make their skin more susceptible to other yellowing factors, such as interactions with the Octagon canvas.

3. Jaundice from Steroid Use

Jaundice is a medical condition where there’s a buildup of bilirubin in the body, leading to yellowing of the skin and eyes. It often indicates underlying liver problems.

Long-term use of anabolic steroids can strain the liver, potentially leading to conditions like jaundice. Steroids can disrupt normal liver function, causing an accumulation of bilirubin.

In the context of UFC fighters, the possibility of jaundice due to steroid use is a less likely explanation for yellow feet. Jaundice typically presents as a yellowing of the entire body, not localized to the soles of the feet. 

Additionally, it would usually be accompanied by other symptoms of liver dysfunction. Therefore, if it were jaundice, a UFC fighter wouldn’t be competing in the Octagon as they’d be looking to recover.

4. Dietary Causes (Carotenemia)

Excess carotenoids deposit in the skin’s outer layer, changing its pigmentation to a yellow-orange hue.

Carotenemia occurs from high levels of carotenoids, which are pigments in certain fruits and vegetables, leading to yellow-orange skin discoloration, especially on palms and soles.

UFC fighters may consume carotenoid-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, integral to their nutrient-rich diets.

While UFC fighters’ diets might lead to carotenemia, it’s more of a secondary factor in the yellowing of the feet.

5. Calluses

UFC fighters often develop calluses on their feet due to the intense physical demands of training and fighting. 

Calluses are areas of thickened skin that form in response to repeated friction and pressure.

Calluses can sometimes have a yellowish appearance. This could be due to the natural coloration of the thickened skin or external factors like the interaction with the Octagon canvas, dirt, and sweat.

6. Lighting at UFC Events

The bright lights used in UFC events can affect how colors are perceived, especially on camera. 

These lights might enhance or alter the appearance of the fighters’ feet, making them appear more yellow than they are in natural light.

Considering that most observations of yellow feet come from televised events or photographs, the role of lighting in altering color perception is significant. 

The combination of artificial lighting and camera technology could exaggerate the yellow hue.

The Bottom Line

The yellowing of UFC fighters’ feet is primarily caused by the interaction with the Octagon canvas, where materials and chemicals react with sweat and skin during fights, leading to discoloration. 

Secondary factors include Raynaud’s phenomenon, which may alter skin conditions under stress, and dietary influences like carotenemia from carotenoid-rich foods. 

Additionally, the physical demands of UFC training can lead to calluses, which might appear yellowish. 

The role of lighting at UFC events also cannot be overlooked, as it can significantly alter color perceptions, especially in televised broadcasts.

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