Chris Curtis reveals significant injuries after accidental headbutt at UFC 289

Chris Curtis' streak of bad luck continued at UFC 289, where he suffered some serious injuries in his fight with Nassourdine Imavov.

By: Kristen King | 4 months ago
Chris Curtis reveals significant injuries after accidental headbutt at UFC 289
Chris Curtis at UFC 289 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Chris Curtis suffered some serious injuries in his fight against Nassourdine Imavov at UFC 289 this past Saturday. In the featured prelim of the pay-per-view event, the Curtis and Imavov accidentally clashed heads, with the ‘Action Man’ getting the worst of it. Curtis was cut, and referee Jason Herzog tried to give him enough time to recover, but all that went out the window once the fighter revealed he could not see. 

After that revelation, Herzog was forced to wave off the action, despite Curtis’ pleas to give him more time. Curtis vs. Imavov was ruled a No Contest due to the accidental clash of heads, much to the disappointment of the fans and fighters. 

Chris Curtis suffered several injuries at UFC 289

As far as fighter safety is concerned, the fight getting waved off was a wise decision, as Chris Curtis revealed the injuries he suffered due to the accidental clash of heads.

Warning: Photo below is graphic. Please proceed with caution.

“10 stitches and a possible Corneal Abrasion,” tweeted Curtis. “In 40 fights, I’ve never not been able to continue. I’m genuinely sorry guys. I really wanted to do something special for Canada. I’ll be back guys.”  

Surprisingly enough, this was not the first time Chris Curtis dealt with a similar situation. Prior to his fight with Nassourdine Imavov, the Xtreme Couture fighter faced Kelvin Gastelum, who he lost to via unanimous decision at UFC 287 this past April. To Curtis, a headbutt led to his loss. 

Curtis revealed he would appeal to the Florida State Athletic Commission to overturn the Gastelum result to a No Contest. 

Chris Curtis discusses how fouls are handled

Chris Curtis also discussed the difference in how fouls are handled in the Octagon. Usually, a referee gives five minutes to a fighter to recover from a foul, such as an eye poke or a groin shot. However, that was not the case here, and the 35-year-old questioned why this foul was not handled the same as others. 

“So tonight we learned that headbutts and head clashes are treated in fundamentally different ways,” tweeted Curtis. “There is no mandatory allowance for head clashes. I thought it was the same five minutes? Learn something new every day. Regardless, I have never not been able to continue in 40 fights.

“I’ve been cut, I’ve been rocked and I’ve been hurt in fights,” continued Curtis. “But losing my vision and not immediately getting it back is something new to me. As much as I want to fight on, I just thought I had a little more time to let my eye clear.”

As it turns out, Curtis is correct in that other fouls such as clashes of heads are not given five minutes of recovery. The Unified Rules states: 

If a contest or exhibition of mixed martial arts is stopped because of an accidental foul, the referee shall determine whether the unarmed combatant who has been fouled can continue or not. If the unarmed combatant’s chance of winning has not been seriously jeopardized as a result of the foul and if the foul did not involve a concussive impact to the head of the unarmed combatant who has been fouled, the referee may order the contest or exhibition continued after a recuperative interval of not more than 5 minutes. Immediately after separating the unarmed combatants, the referee shall inform the Commission’s representative of his determination that the foul was accidental. 

If a fighter is fouled by blow that the referee deems illegal, the referee should stop the action and call for time. The referee may take the injured fighter to the ringside doctor and have the ringside doctor examine the fighter as to their ability to continue on in the contest. The ringside doctor has up to 5 minutes to make their determination. If the ringside doctor determines that the fighter can continue in the contest, the referee shall as soon as practical restart the fight. However, unlike the low blow foul rule, the fighter does not have up to 5 minutes of time to use at their discretion. 

For a foul other than a low blow, the fouled fighter is not guaranteed 5 minutes of recovery time. If deemed not fit to continue by the referee or ringside physician, the referee must immediately call a halt to the bout. If the fighter is deemed not fit to continue by the referee or ringside physician but some of the five minute foul time is still remaining, the fighter cannot avail himself of the remaining time. 

With the loss, Curtis is 1-1 (1) in his past three appearances. Perhaps when he heals, he and Imavov can rematch.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider subscribing to the Bloody Elbow Substack to enjoy our daily premium content. Your paid subscriptions are helping build our new site and keeping hope alive that our staff will remain intact. If you haven’t already, please pledge with a paid subscription today.

Join the new Bloody Elbow

Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Karim Zidan. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.

Share this story

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.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories