Do UFC Fighters Break Their Nose? (MMA Injury Explained!)

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Getting injured is part and parcel of MMA. UFC fans – myself included – watch fights knowing that there’s a chance the fighters may get hurt. And if you’ve been a fan for long enough, you may have come to expect blood when you watch fights.

Watching fighters battering each other’s faces inside the octagon made me curious: do UFC fighters break their nose? And how often? 

It also got me thinking about whether UFC fighters get nose surgeries after fights. So I did some research and found some answers, keep reading to learn what I found out!

Do UFC Fighters Break Their Nose?

A fighter feeling sad after a broken nose from boxing

UFC fighters break their noses in fights all the time. It’s not hard to tell when a fighter has broken their nose inside the octagon. When punched repeatedly, the nose develops a deformity in the middle of it. If struck hard enough, the cartilage and bone in the nose break, causing a lot of pain, bleeding, and swelling.

MMA is a full-contact sport that involves throwing gruesome punches, grisly kicks, wild elbows, and intense submissions. Because of this, the fighter’s nose endures a high amount of pressure. This typically leads to the nose looking battered after UFC fights, even if it’s not broken.

However, noses break in a lot of UFC fights. Taking a look at pictures of fighters like Thiago Alves and Wade Sauer after their UFC fights, you will know that MMA isn’t easy on fighter’s noses.

The face is a sensitive target that fighters aim to hit throughout the fight. The impact of a fist striking the face causes the brain to hit the skull. A punch to the head most commonly causes dizziness and ringing of the ears. It may also cause the opponent to lose consciousness. 

An effective punch, therefore, can give a fighter the opportunity they need to dominate and win. 

The nose is right in the middle of the face. While keeping your hands up can help you protect your face and nose, UFC fighters aren’t timid by any means and focus on causing as much damage as they can. Protecting their face is often less important than battering the opponent’s face to these fighters.

It’s important to remember that the nose is mostly cartilage, and a broken nose usually means that the septum broke. However, striking the face just right can cause the bony part of the nose that’s closer to the forehead to break. Fractures to the cartilage, bone, or both are all considered nasal fractures.

How Often Do UFC Fighters Break Their Nose?

A fighter taking a punch to the nose and face from another fighter

The UFC has a high injury rate, with head injuries being the most common injury in fights. 51 out of 100 athletic exposures lead to a musculoskeletal or head injury. While the area around the eyes gets damaged most often, nasal fractures are commonly reported after fights. Males fighting in the UFC tend to suffer from more injuries than females.

Broken noses are nothing new in the world of MMA. Breaking the opponent’s nose in a fight is practically accepted in the UFC – it’s just the nature of the sport.

Having a broken nose is common enough for fighters to disregard how it looks even after the fight completely. After a fighter’s nose breaks, it is typically put back in place, and the fighters let it heal for about 12 weeks. 

Most fighters don’t bother getting surgery to fix how their nose looks. Broken or unbroken, the nose has the same amount of nerves in it. Striking it will hurt regardless. Therefore, there is no real advantage for a fighter to get their nose fixed. 

Fighters only consider surgery if the shape of the nose begins to affect how well they can breathe. 

Are Broken Noses Common In MMA?

A fighter attending to his broken nose

Nose injuries account for 10.4% of total injuries in Mixed Martial Arts. Injuries are most common in lower belt ranks – fighters in the lower ranks get injured twice as frequently as fighters in the other ranks.

Fighters most commonly get a saddle nose when they miss blocking that one good hit to their face. A strike to the nose causes trauma that disrupts blood flow to the cartilage, subsequently causing a blood clot. In addition, the cartilage usually disintegrates, resulting in a collapsed appearance.

However, a saddle nose doesn’t always mean the nose broke. If the nose breaks, the area usually bleeds and swells up. Furthermore, besides looking saddled, a broken nose will also look crooked. 

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As I mentioned earlier, most fighters don’t care for how their nose looks since there’s a chance they’ll get injured in their next fight anyway. But every fighter gets their nose looked after a fight. This helps ensure that a serious underlying injury does not exist and they don’t develop lifelong breathing problems. 

A saddle nose can also be caused due to medical problems or drug use. 

Nosebleeds are a more common occurrence in MMA fights, and these can happen even if the nose isn’t broken. The bleeding starts when blood vessels in the nose rupture from a hit. These aren’t as serious as the nose breaking, and cutmen usually intervene. 

An epinephrine-soaked cotton swab is applied, and when the bleeding stops, the area is chilled with an ice pack. Fighters are instructed to breathe through the mouth during treatment.

How Do UFC Fighters NOT Break Their Nose?

A fighter getting a nose massage before a fight

UFC fighters massage their nose before they train and fight. The massage increases blood circulation and makes the nose more flexible, reducing the chances of it breaking. Besides, strikes to the nose during sparring make their noses a lot more resistant to damage over time.

Throughout UFC fights, the intensity of damage caused to both fighters is observed thoroughly by a physician from the ringside. If the doctor determines that a fighter is not fit enough to continue fighting, the round is stopped, and the fighter is given medical care. 

The match is often stopped if the injury is unmistakably affecting the fighter’s ability in the ring.

Some fans believe UFC fighters get their nose bone removed because it increases the nose’s flexibility. This is a complete myth and one that makes no sense. The nose is mostly cartilage, and removing the cartilage won’t make punches feel any less painful.

From my research, the origins of this myth can be traced back to Randy “Tex” Cobb, who got his cartilage surgically removed because it broke in every sparring session. UFC Fighters don’t get their cartilage removed.

What to read next

You now know all about the common problem of nose breaks in the UFC. Next up, you might want to know more about topics like knee pads being worn in the octagon and what the UFC might be like without any gloves:

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