Fright of the Night: Ranking October’s scariest combat sport injuries

(WARNING: Graphic images and videos throughout this article) Happy Halloween, everybody! The final months of the year have some of the best holidays, and…

By: Kristen King | 3 years ago
Fright of the Night: Ranking October’s scariest combat sport injuries
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

(WARNING: Graphic images and videos throughout this article)

Happy Halloween, everybody!

The final months of the year have some of the best holidays, and yet, there is one that always tends to get overshadowed — Halloween! I recognize the excitement for Thanksgiving and Christmas in November and December is far greater for good reason (seriously who can pass up food and gifts?), but we have to get through Halloween in October before getting completely merry. So, in celebration of such a wonderful and underrated holiday, I have decided to rank some of the nastiest injuries that have happened in combat sports during this October. No need to thank me, I am just doing my job.

Before we get started, I have ruled out any injuries that did not happen while in competition, so Khabib Nurmagomedov and his ballooned foot prior to his fight against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 will not be on here.

It’s spooky season, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s get gross.

No. 5: Liana Jojua’s nose at UFC 254

We are kicking off the list with something light.

Liana Jojua made her flyweight debut in the UFC earlier this year and looked sensational as she submitted Diana Belbita with an armbar in the first round of their contest at UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige. Hoping to keep the momentum going, Jojua made her return to the Octagon three months later at UFC 254 to welcome promotional newcomer, Miranda Maverick.

Maverick came into the fight with a fair amount of warranted hype, and she certainly lived up to it. Within the first few minutes of trading strikes with one another, Maverick hit Jojua with a well-timed upward elbow that immediately sliced up the nose of her opponent. As blood poured out of Jojua’s nose, Maverick kept piecing her up and even threw a few more elbows to the same area until the horn signifying the end of the round sounded.

Considering how much blood was on her face at the time, it was hard to see how much damage that elbow did, but we did not have to wait long to find out. While in her corner before the start of the second round, the cutman came in to clean Jojua up and when he wiped away the blood, we were left staring at a ghastly cut on the bridge of her nose. The cut was so bad that the cage-side doctor came in, examined it and promptly decided there was no way Jojua could continue and called for the fight to end. Now there have been some pretty gross cuts in the UFC over the years, so this one did not seem like it was bad enough to warrant a fight stoppage, but maybe these pictures will change your mind.

Courtesy of UFC President Dana White, here is what Jojua’s nose looked like during and after the fight. As you can see, her nose was busted up quite a bit, so it was probably for the best that she did not go out for another round. Jojua ended up needing a few stitches, which are set to be removed soon.

No. 4: Tureano Johnson’s lip at Munguia vs. Johnson

Late entry alert! I have to be honest with you all, I had something else written for No. 4 and I quickly deleted it a few hours ago to include this injury. My self-proclaimed title of gore expert would have been revoked (by myself?) if I didn’t.

Anyway, we take a trip to the squared circle to witness a middleweight fight between Jaime Munguia and Tureano Johnson. The first couple of rounds were decent as both Munguia and Johnson had their moments, but it was the sixth round that will be the one most talked about when we look back at it months from now. Throughout the round, Munguia had thrown right uppercuts that continued to land on Johnson. For his final uppercut, though, he must have summoned the power of every single hard-hitting fighter in the history of the sport because when it landed it split open Johnson’s top lip. And boy was it split open.

At the end of the round, doctors came in to assess the cut that was now on Johnson’s face and it was nastier than we thought. Not only did the lip already look mangled without being touched, but then the doctor separated it with his fingers and that is when we could see his mouth-guard through the cut. Mouth-guard through the cut! It was blue, by the way.

Although the DAZN social media team posted quite the picture of Johnson’s lip, I think resident MMA highlight bringer and overall must-follow on Twitter, Caposa, has them beat with this screen grab. Take a look down below.

At this time, it is unknown what kind of work needed to be done on Johnson to repair his lip, but I imagine it must have been extensive.

No. 3: Albert Gonzalez’s arm at Bellator 249

Albert Gonzalez has the worst luck and this could not be more apparent considering how his last two fights went.

Gonzalez made his promotional debut with Bellator MMA in September of last year at Bellator 226, where he fought Tyson Miller on a rare post-lim. The fight lasted less than 90 seconds as Gonzalez had his leg snapped in half after Miller checked a leg kick that was thrown. It always sucks to see a fighter go down like that (have we really recovered from Anderson Silva and his leg at UFC 168?) but Gonzalez recovered and returned to the Bellator cage a year later.

Gonzalez took on Kastriot Xhema during the preliminary portion of Bellator 249 and while the fight certainly lasted longer than his last one, it almost ended for the same reason — a brutal injury. Xhema snatched up an armbar on Gonzalez in the final seconds of the round and pulled back with all his might. In fact, Xhema pulled the arm back far enough to the point of Gonzalez’s elbow being forced to protrude from the opposite side. You know. On the side where the elbow should not be. You can see the exact moment the injury happened in the video below.

If this were referee Herb Dean circa 2004, then he would have exclaimed ‘Oh sh*t!’ and brought about the end of the fight right then and there. But this was not the case here and the round went on without Gonzalez even attempting to tap to the armbar. In a plot twist that filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t write, Gonzalez was declared the winner of the fight after Xhema was unable to continue due to exhaustion. Sure, Gonzalez had his elbow dislocated, but he walked out of the cage with the consolation prize of a win on his record.

It does not appear that Gonzalez suffered any long-term damage from the armbar, but it was still shocking to witness in real time.

No. 2: Benjamin Hussain’s jaw at Opetaia vs. Kelleher

Sometimes you look at an injury and say, ‘I don’t think it is supposed to look like that’. This is one of those injuries.

Benjamin Hussain, a 21-year-old boxer hailing from Queensland, Australia, recently competed in his third professional bout against Ben Mahoney. The fight began as usual, with both men landing shots, but the second round is when things started to get interesting. Mahoney caught Hussain with a hard right hand that forced the mouthguard of Hussain right out of his mouth. Blood started to drip out of Hussain’s mouth, which is kind of normal after taking a shot like that.

However, what was not normal is how Hussain managed to continue for four more rounds with a broken jaw. That’s right. The aforementioned hard right hand delivered by Mahoney caused the injury and the prolonged drubbing definitely didn’t make it better. By the time the doctor came in, fans and pundits alike could see how badly the jaw was broken, but Hussain has you covered if you could not see it.

Moments after the fight was stopped in the sixth round, Hussain uploaded a video to his Instagram while in the hospital presumably waiting to see a doctor. In the video, Hussain is showing off his jaw and it is not for those with weak stomachs. He tries to move his mouth a bit, but only half of it jiggles slightly.

You can see the video below, but be warned. There is a reason why Instagram slapped on that sensitive content warning. Hussain has not given an update on his jaw since those last couple of posts on social media, but he has vowed to return at “100 percent”.

View this post on Instagram

This is boxing Thanks to everybody ill be back %

A post shared by The Hype Beast (@benjamin_hussain1) on

No. 1: Johnny Campbell’s Ear at Taura MMA 10

We have seen an ear explode maybe once or twice in mixed martial arts, but this one may take the cake as the worst one to date.

Johnny Campbell was competing for an interim bantamweight title against Ary Farias at Taura MMA 10 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 25 seconds, it was all over. In one of the early exchanges of the fight, Farias caught Campbell with a punch to the ear before following him on the ground to look for a submission. As Farias continued to work, the referee suddenly stopped the contest. In the midst of the confusion, it became clear why the referee did what he did.

Campbell’s ear was dangling off the side of his head. The ear was visibly bloody by that point, but once the camera zoomed in, we saw the ear essentially in two pieces. Perhaps even more frightening than the sight of his ear was Campbell’s very nonchalant attitude about the whole thing. In an interview with Mike Heck of MMA Fighting, Campbell thought he was going to stick around to see Farias get the belt wrapped around him before he was reminded that his ear was literally holding on for dear life.

Luckily, Campbell is in the process of recovering from the injury as he needed a couple of stitches to put his ear back together.

Here is Campbell’s ear in all its gory glory.

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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