In a recent UWC Mexico event held in Tijuana, Mexico on April 28, MMA athlete Jose Penaloza’s ear burst during a featherweight title bout against Dorian Ramos.
While it may seem like an odd accident, the incident is actually a cautionary tale of the dangers of cauliflower ear, a common condition in combat sports.
Penaloza’s cauliflower ear, which was already swollen and bloated due to excessive strikes in the first round, got worse heading into the second round.
The cageside doctor examined the ear, but allowed Penaloza to continue the bout. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse during the second round when Ramos dominated Penaloza and landed a barrage of elbow strikes, causing the ear to burst like a water balloon.
Everything turned red as Penaloza struggled to escape the ground-and-pound, but he was eventually defeated by Ramos. The referee halted the match, marking Ramos’ victory.
Cauliflower ear, as its name suggests, is a condition where the ear becomes bloated and deformed, resembling a cauliflower.
It is caused by repeated and excessive blunt force trauma to the ears, such as from wrestling, grappling, and striking.
When the ear is struck, the cartilage that gives it its shape can be damaged, leading to swelling and bleeding in the ear tissue. Over time, the lymph can harden and cause the ear to take on a misshapen appearance.
Cauliflower ear is very common in combat sports, including MMA, boxing, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In fact, many athletes view it as a badge of honor and wear it as a sign of their dedication to their sport.
Preventing cauliflower ear is possible with proper protection, such as wearing headgear that covers the ears.
Treatment for cauliflower ear usually involves draining the liquid from the ear and applying compression to prevent further swelling. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage to the cartilage.