There’s no doubt that MMA is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It’s been described as “human cockfighting” by the late American senator John McCain, and as “High-level problem solving with dire physical consequences” by UFC commentator and comedian Joe Rogan.
Both of those descriptions are correct to some extent, and the brutal MMA injuries we’re going to get into here perfectly exemplify why so many people view this sport as barbaric. I don’t entirely agree, and as a practitioner of mixed martial arts, I know that there’s a whole other side to it involving skill, discipline, determination, respect, and unrivaled athletic ability.
However, we’re going to be focusing on the dark side of MMA today. As you’ll see, when things go wrong, they can alter the lives of fighters for good. If you’ve just eaten, maybe it’d be a good idea to bookmark this and come back later, because some of these will make you lose your lunch just thinking about them.
Injury 1 – Anderson Silva Break His Leg Against Chris Weidman
Most UFC fans will already be aware of this one. It’s one of the most harrowing moments in UFC history when in the blink of an eye one of the greatest fighters of all time experienced the type of freak injury that you’d expect to see in a horror movie, rather than the octagon.
Anderson Silva had been defeated by Chris Weidman in July 2013 by knockout, partly due to Silva’s showboating, catapulting Weidman to global fame and fortune in an instant. So, in December of the same year, most MMA fans expected Silva to avenge himself and set the record straight that the first time had been a fluke.
What nobody could have predicted is that the second fight would end dramatically in just after the one minute mark of the second round. Silva tried for a leg kick, Weidman checked it, and Silva’s leg snapped like a twig. The injury was immediately so serious that many wondered if Silva (38) would ever fight again.
Here’s a video of the moment it happened. Warning – this contains extremely graphic content. If you do proceed to watch it, pay attention until the end when the slow motion part kicks in.
What happens when this sort of injury occurs and you have a bet on the fight? Well, a win is a win, no matter how it occurs. If you’d bet on Weidman to win outright, you would still get your payout. If you had bet on specific outcomes such as a points win for one of the fighters, that would have been tough titty because that’s just not how this one went down and you’d have lost your bet.
While Silva’s injury is nothing to celebrate, this is one of the things I love about betting on UFC and other MMA events. ANYTHING can happen at any time. I almost always have some money riding on the underdog and a few unlikely occurrences. MMA is unpredictable, and unpredictability is an opportunity for the savvy sports bettor.
Injury 2 – Joao Carvalho Dies In Fight With Charlie Ward
In any sport, even non-combat ones, from time to time the unthinkable happens and an athlete dies in action. Even in sports like soccer, athletes have lost their lives on the pitch due to freak accidents and tragic happenings.
However, when it comes to MMA, there’s something much more devastating about fatalities when they do happen, partly because fighters can die as a result of injuries sustained in battle. This is what happened when Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho died in hospital hours after being knocked out in a Total Extreme Fighting bout in Ireland.
Carvalho was checked by doctors at the time of the knockout but felt fine. He was rushed to hospital after having a serious headache and losing consciousness 10 minutes later and sadly passed away shortly thereafter as a result of his injuries.
Fight analysis shows that Carvalho took 41 blows to the head during the course of the fight. After an inquest, the tragic occurrence was ruled ‘death by misadventure’ by an Irish court.
We won’t link to any videos or images of the fight out of respect for Mr Carvalho and his family. It also must be said that this sort of thing is extremely rare, and of thousands of MMA fights which happen in both professional and amateur tournaments and events around the world each week, death is highly unlikely.
What does this sort of thing mean for you as a sports bettor? Well, the fight is settled when it’s stopped by the ref, which this one was in round three. As for the tragic aftermath, that has no impact whatsoever on the bets made or how they pay out.
Our condolences to Carvalho’s family, friends, and fans. Let’s hope this never happens again to any MMA fighter.
Injury 3 – Frank Mir Breaks Tim Sylvia’s Arm via Armbar
Lots of casual fight fans believe that the most effective way to defeat your opponent is via striking, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my few years of studying MMA it’s that someone with solid ground game is to be feared just as much as, if not more than, a lethal striker. This brutal MMA injury serves as the perfect example as to why.
Ground game is especially effective when fighting physically bigger opponents, and that’s likely why Frank Mir decided that utilizing his superior BJJ skills was an effective way to beat the 6’8” giant that is Silvia.
When Mir broke Silvia’s forearm by applying an inverted armbar which he refused to tap out to, he probably didn’t expect Silvia to physically lift him and attempt to plough on, but that’s exactly what happened. Despite his protests at the time, Silvia later thanked referee Herb Dean, a veteran ref who’s respected as one of the best in the world, and acknowledged he had made the right decision.
As a sports bettor, it’s a good idea to look at the skillset each fighter has and work out whether they’re likely to try for submissions or knockouts. It’s one thing to bet on the outcome of a fight, but if you can say how they’ll win, you’ll often get much bigger payouts.
To me, it would have been obvious that Mir was unlikely to get into a slugging match against a beast like Sylvia so understanding Mir’s BJJ background would have given me a clue as to how he might approach this, had I been betting on this fight.
As my coach often reminds us “When you’re in a submission you have a choice about what gets broken – your ego, or a limb.” That’s solid advice, and something Sylvia probably should have been told going into this fight against a BJJ master like Mir.
Injury 4 – Robbie Lawler Disconnects Rory McDonald’s Nose From His Skull
Let’s be honest, when we fight fans tune in to watch a showdown, we want to see more than two guys hugging each other on the ground and trying to bend each other’s limbs in ways they shouldn’t be going. With all due respect to ground fighters, for most of us, the action is in a good old fashioned brawl.
Two fighters who have proven over time that they’re not averse to getting into it are Rory McDonald and Robbie Lawler. So, when they faced each other at UFC 189, a bloodbath was both anticipated and delivered. However, nobody expected it to be quite as brutal or bloody as it turned out.
While the fight was ultimately stopped and Lawler was awarded a win via technical knockout, you might not have known it if you had just tuned in and witnessed the victor pouring blood out onto the canvas through his mouth, head bowed and totally spent.
Yet, it was McDonald who suffered the worst injuries of the night. A post-fight scan revealed that part of his nose had detached from his skull after the punch which ended the fight.
Here’s a photo of his face post-fight. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and on this occasion, I reckon ‘they’ are correct.
What’s the lesson for sports bettors in this? When two athletes who like to brawl go to war, expect a stoppage or a knockout to happen. There may also be some opportunities for proposition bets such as which fighter will hit the deck first (or next), although not every sports betting site offers in-play bets on MMA.
Injury 5 – Vitor Belfort Takes a Piece of Marvin Eastman’s Eyebrow
One of my first kickboxing lessons was about guard, and I was surprised to learn that it evolved from holding a sword and shield back in the old days. Makes sense when you stop to consider it, doesn’t it?
While the days of lopping your opponents head off with master-crafted Samurai swords are long gone, Marvin Eastman could have been forgiven for thinking that Vitor Belfort had somehow snuck one in and slashed him with it back in UFC 43.
The truth is, Belfort didn’t need a sword – all he needed were his fists, elbows, and knees. When you actually stop and take a look at Belfort, it’s not really a surprise that he could inflict this much damage on an opponent without extra weapons.
Check out the photo of Eastman’s eyebrow above. I can’t imagine how washing his face, showering, or just having facial expressions of any kind must have felt in the agonizing days after this fight.
What’s the lesson for sports bettors here? A general one would be never to fight Vitor Belfort and to give up your cash, clothes, and girlfriend immediately if he ever should request them.
Seriously, though, a good lesson would be to bet on bouts in the heavier weight classes ending in stoppage or knockout. These guys are just so powerful it’s almost unbelievable and the force they hit their opponents with means it’s highly likely someone is going down or getting saved by the ref. I’d never bet on a heavyweight bout going the distance, personally speaking. It’s always one significant strike away from lights with these guys.
Worst Injuries In MMA History – A Summary
After reading this piece, you could be forgiven for thinking that MMA is barbaric and should be banned, but keep in mind that these sorts of injuries are comparatively rare. I’d feel like a sellout to my own beloved sport if I didn’t point out that 99% of fights don’t end with life-changing injuries, and it’s safe to learn and practice MMA if you’re interested.
Before closing, I’d like to point out that MMA is one of the most exciting, unpredictable, and exhilarating sports to bet on. As an avid sports bettor, I don’t bet on anything else as frequently as I do MMA, precisely because no bookmaker can effectively set odds to their advantage. An underdog can come in and wipe out a long-reigning champ with one lucky punch or kick, filling your pockets in the process. It’s just that kind of sport, and that’s why I and so many others love to bet on it.
Ready to place your bets on the next big fight? Check out our top sports betting sites for some ideas on where to bet safely and at the best odds on the web.
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