Aside from their bulky shoulders, fit figure, and blazing athletic-body – there’s one more feature that is prominent when you look at those UFC fighters. As you’d guess, it’s those so-called cauliflowers ears.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Ew, that’s gross. But wait, let me tell you what it is exactly, how it is developed, as well as its treatment and prevention.
What are Cauliflower Ears?
This might come as a surprise to you, but the term cauliflower ears is more than just a coined phrase. It is medically known as perichondrial hematoma otherwise known as the wrestler’s ears. Essentially, it occurs when blood pools in your pinna after it’s been hit or struck.
What’s more, cauliflower ears aren’t just exclusive to MMA fighters, but also with athletes doing the same type of practice. Basically, it is inevitable in any close-contact sport such as the UFC fighting itself.
In a medical perspective, an ear cartilage is an injury caused by inflammation or trauma. When the blood vessels are struck, blood clots form inside the ear, which prevents vital nutrients from being supplied to the cartilage. As the ear cartilage dies, it shrivels up, creating the trademark cauliflower ear look.
How Is it Developed During Training?
One of the most notable techniques in UFC fights is the discipline of wrestling. Therefore, their ears may be subjected to extreme strikes and punches hit they’re in a match. These blows can cause impairment in the shape and structure of the outside of the ear. As a result, 39% – 45% of wrestlers have developed these weird ears.
Another one is the method of grappling. Now, you might wonder, “Grappling does not include strikes so how can it cause ear deformities?” Well, grappling is a form of combat sport. Hence, training techniques such as takedowns, throws, pins, and submissions are widely used. Wew, that’s a lot of friction. Isn’t it?
While it may not exactly strike the opponents, the fighters are constantly in contact, hence an accidental (or not) bang to the ears is very common.
As you might have already figured out, the increased contact between fighters contributes a lot in acquiring such ears. Our ears aren’t that sensitive, and perhaps won’t become swollen after a few thwacks. However, with constant and repeated pressure and trauma, the ears slowly deform in an odd way. Literally.
Another thing is when fighters execute takedowns. When a wrestler goes in for a single leg, their ear is hitting the leg of their opponent, sometimes against the hard bone of the shin. Also, if a scramble occurs during the takedown, the wrestler could end up with his ear against the mat, or in another unexpected position. So, need I say more?
Prevention and Treatment
If I were to go as straightforward as I could, the only way to prevent this is by wearing a protective headgear during training. Basically, this headgear consists of two solid shells that are supported by elastic bands.
To simply put, the shells cover the ears to protect them from trauma. On behalf of you, the shell takes hits just to make sure your soft cartilage is in place and safe.
As for the treatment, a procedure called “Draining the Ear” is usually done. It is a medical surgery where a doctor removes the blood clot through an incision. The skin and cartilage are then compressed to connect them, and reactivate the blood supply.
However, if things get worse, there are cosmetic procedures administered by plastic surgeons that can help the ear look less weird.
Cauliflower ears can look disturbing to other people. However, the fighters usually take it as some sort of a badge of honor.
While the majority can agree that it looks weird, we can’t deny the fact that it also represents a fighter’s long hours of training and hard work. And who knows? Maybe cauliflower ears can become a fashion statement in the future. Isn’t that exciting?
Kidding aside, let’s not hate those odd–looking ears too much. They are, after all, the fruit of each fighter’s labor. A weird fruit, yes, but still a fruit. At the end of the day, if they take pride in achieving it, then who are we to say otherwise?