With the rising popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), fans have begun to learn a whole new vocabulary when it comes to fighting in the cage. Along with grappling terms and different styles of strikes, fans are also learning more about certain injuries that might have seemed rare or remote before. One of those is a condition known as cauliflower ear, and it's a common injury for many MMA fighters.
The condition occurs when repeated blows or strikes to the ears cause blood vessels to burst and swell. Over time, this can leave the ear looking like cauliflower. Usually, fighters get this from the impact of wrestling or training. It's common in the sport of MMA, but it can occur in other types of fights as well.
It can be painful, but it's not dangerous. Often, the ear will return to its normal appearance after some time, but it can lead to hearing loss or headaches if left untreated. MMA fighters are more at risk for it than other sports athletes, especially if they have a grappling-based fighting style, such as wrestling or jiu jitsu.
Cauliflower ear isn't something that can be reversed, so some fighters choose to live with it. They may even consider it a badge of honor because it shows they've been doing the work and beating people up for years. One of the most famous examples of this is former UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos. He has a very visible cauliflower ear, which he refuses to treat because it might make him look unattractive.