Injuries are now as much a part of the sport as punching and kicking. Fight announcements are less a promise than a tentative hope.
Some fighters are less reliable than others when it comes to showing up on fight night, of course. These individuals have gained a reputation—often through no fault of their own—for having all the robustness of candy glass.
Read on for a countdown of the UFC’s most injury-prone fighters.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion wasn’t always so fragile. Indeed, it wasn’t until around 2010 that he started to pick up more injuries than a stuntman with brittle bone disease.
It all started when Evans injured his knee in early 2011, extending his time away from the cage to 15 months and costing him a shot at the 205-pound title.
Following a win over Tito Ortiz in late 2011, a thumb injury again postponed Evans’ title aspirations.
For the next two years, The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 winner’s body appeared to be holding up well, even as his performances inside the cage began to wane.
Unfortunately, his run of good luck came to an end last week when it was reported he had suffered a leg injury that would likely require surgery, per MMA Junkie.
The career of Thiago Alves at times appears to be one big “what if?”
What if he could make 170 pounds without dehydrating himself to the point of desiccation? What if he could remain healthy enough to put a string of wins together?
Like our previous entry, Alves wasn’t always so injury-prone. The beginning of his UFC career was notable for its consistency.
Things started to go downhill following a knee injury in 2010. This was followed by the discovery of an arteriovenous malformation—look it up—in his brain, which could potentially have been lethal.
After a period of stability, the Brazilian pulled out of his bout with Siyar Bahadurzada in mid-2012 with an as yet unknown injury. At the time of writing, he has been on the shelf for more than 18 months, but he is expected to return at UFC on Fox 11 in April.
Given how entertaining Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is, his injury woes may be the most frustrating of all.
The UFC lightweight champion’s problems started in 2012 after his sensational knockout of Joe Lauzon. A shoulder injury kept Pettis out of action for most of 2012, halting the momentum he had recently built.
Unfortunately, just as Showtime was preparing to make his comeback, he was hospitalized with a staph infection in 2012, delaying his return until 2013.
Spectacular performances followed against Donald Cerrone and in a title-winning effort against Benson Henderson. However, Pettis was then forced to pull out of his scheduled bout at UFC on Fox 9 against Josh Thomson, citing a knee injury.
One hopes the UFC lightweight champion can achieve some sort of career stability. He is a star in the making, and the sport could benefit from some star power right now.
It’s fair to say that “Little Nog” hasn’t endeared himself to Dana White recently. The UFC president expressed his frustration late last year to MMA Junkie when the Brazilian’s persistent injury problems scuppered a potential bout with Alexander Gustafsson: "The fight isn't for four months, and he's already determined he's hurt. I don't understand that. The guy is always hurt. Every time you call him, he's hurt."
It’s hard to argue with the UFC president on this occasion. Nogueira has withdrawn from five scheduled fights since debuting in the UFC in 2009.
Strangely, no one area of Nogueira’s body is responsible for his incessant withdrawals. He has cited everything from a fractured ankle to a blown-out knee to an ailing shoulder to a troublesome back.
Dominick Cruz is a truly unfortunate case. With very few stars below 155 pounds, the former UFC bantamweight champion has been sorely missed.
After making his mark in the UFC with entertaining title defences against Urijah Faber and future flyweight king Demetrious Johnson, Cruz looked set to become one of the sport’s most dependable champions.
Problems started for him during his coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter: Live. Toward the end of the season, he suffered a torn ACL, forcing him to undergo surgery.
The surgery replaced his ACL with one from a cadaver. Unfortunately, Cruz’s body rejected the replacement, setting back his recovery almost an entire year.
Finally set to return against Renan Barao at UFC 169, things were finally looking up for the champion. However, a groin injury further pushed back Cruz’s return, leading him to be stripped of the title.
If anything positive has come out of his injury issues, it is the opportunity he has been given to demonstrate his skills as an analyst on Fox Sports. By all accounts, his ability to break down fights is outstanding and has boosted his popularity amongst the fanbase.