10. Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
(UFC 74, 8/25/07)
At 44 years of age, Randy Couture was the one who was supposed to look busted up after his heavyweight championship match with 29-year-old Brazilian wrecking ball Gabriel Gonzaga. But in one of the greatest triumphs of his career, Couture broke down the bigger, younger fighter with his wrestling and dirty boxing. About three minutes into the first round, blood began to pour out of Gonzaga’s shattered nose, giving Randy’s back a nice, red coat. The steady flow interrupts the challenger’s breathing and vision, leading to a brutal ground-and-pound finish in the third.
9. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith
(EliteXC: Unfinished Business, 7/26/08)
In the second round of their EliteXC middleweight championship do-over, Scott Smith nailed Robbie Lawler with a series of standing elbows that opened up an ugly gash on the top of Lawler’s head. With blood pouring out of the wound, Lawler turned up the intensity, doing his best to finish Smith before a doctor could stop the fight. About 90 seconds later, he succeeded — but not before a spray of “plasma” fell into commentator Mauro Ranallo’s lap. The video doesn’t really do it justice; you should also check out this photo from the fight, and this photo of the aftermath.
8. Chase Beebe vs. Eddie Wineland
(WEC 26, 3/24/07)
It may have been the most grisly demolition of a cauliflower ear in MMA history. Midway through a five-round bantamweight title match, challenger Chase Beebe dropped an elbow from the top that burst Eddie Wineland’s overripe right ear, causing it to spray blood several feet across the mat. Wineland, who had already suffered multiple cuts near his eyes from Beebe’s precision striking, soldiered on to the fifth-round bell with what appeared to be a gaping hole in the side of his head. Beebe took home the belt and Wineland hasn’t fought in the WEC since.
After the jump: Things really start to get disgusting.
After a back-and-forth brawl in the opening round, Joe Daddy shifted the momentum of his match against Yves Edwards with some ferocious elbows from the top. When Edwards’s scalp gets slashed, his head goes from zero to bloodsoaked in a matter of seconds, and the mat starts collecting pools of the red stuff; check out the grisly scene starting around the 9:52 mark when the cut is checked by doctors. They let him finish out the round, but the fight is called after the bell. Unfortunately, the bloodbath fairy would again visit Stevenson later in his career…
6. Edwin Dewees vs. Gideon Ray
(The Ultimate Fighter 4, episode 2; original airdate 8/24/06)
Occasionally, tremendous blood loss will work to a fighter’s advantage. Such was the case with the first middleweight quarterfinal match on The Ultimate Fighter 4, when Gideon Ray elbowed a hatchet-wound into Edwin Dewees’s forehead. After it was determined that a “sudden victory” round would be necessary — and that Dewees could continue fighting, despite already leaving a couple pints on the ground — “Babyface” spent much of the last frame on top of Ray, with blood squirting from his head directly into the nose and mouth of his opponent. Ray was visibly freaked out, and was unable to mount an effective offense; Dewees got the decision win and advanced to the semis. Though most UFC fans have seen this infamous match, videos and photos of it are scarce on the Internet, so if you know of any good links, please share ‘em in the comments section.
5. Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs. David Heath
(UFC 74, 8/25/07)
(Photo via Sherdog.)
David Heath thought it would be cute to mock Babalu’s recent arrest by wearing a t-shirt depicting his mug shot. Babalu thought it would be cute to punish Heath mercilessly and then choke him unconscious. Babalu dominated the fight, but things really got bloody in the second when he opened a cut on Heath’s forehead that wordsmith Joe Rogan referred to as “nasty.” Babalu then widened that cut until Heath’s soul was in danger of pouring out of his head. Babalu ended this one by choking Heath beyond the point of submission, forcing referee Steve Mazzagatti to pry his arms open to free the sleeping Heath. It was deemed an offense worthy of dismissal by the UFC brass, but we think Sobral made his point.
What do you get when you mix Koscheck’s formidable ground-and-pound with Lytle’s willingness to fight through copious amounts of blood loss? How about a very slippery canvas and a fight that makes even some hardcore fans cringe. Despite being cut directly above his eye, Lytle was allowed to continue all the way to the final bell, and even managed to put a scare into Koscheck late in the fight. Both men proved that they weren’t the squeamish type, and Lytle seemed no more than slightly annoyed at bleeding into his own eye. Koscheck walked away with yet another decision victory here, though his bleached blonde hair turned plasma pink before it was over with. It was a significant improvement.
3. B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson
(UFC 80, 1/19/08)
If you had to give the Penn-Stevenson bout a name similar to those applied to each UFC event, “Blood & Tears” would be pretty apt. Penn opened a gusher of a cut on Stevenson’s forehead and then proceeded to make it worse by squeezing his neck until the stream was shooting out onto the mat. He closed by licking Stevenson’s blood off his own gloves while Stevenson wept. It was a weird night, in other words. Later Stevenson would describe having that cut accidentally reopened while getting a haircut. He admitted that the incident “disturbed” him.
2. Sean Sherk vs. Kenny Florian
(UFC 64, 10/14/06)
(Photo via UFC.com)
These two traded cuts in their battle for the UFC lightweight strap, but it was the eventual winner Sherk who ended up pouring more blood onto the canvas. Florian’s hellbows, even from the bottom, proved their worth here. By the end of their five-round battle both men looked like they were extras in a low-budget horror movie. It just goes to show, if you can’t out-fight your opponent or defend against his takedowns you might as well see if you can’t make him light-headed from blood loss. But please, have the decency to give him juice and a cookie afterwards.
It’s only fitting that a list of the goriest, most brutal fights would be topped off with a gem from Pride, the land of soccer kicks and knees to the head of a downed opponent. The latter did Sakuraba in during this quarterfinal match from the 2005 Grand Prix. Arona spent much of the match stuffing Sakuraba’s takedowns and then controlling him from the top while kneeing him in the head. Then Sakuraba’s ear started to bleed, along with his increasingly lumpy face. Then he looked very, very sad. Then it continued for another few minutes. The fight proved two things: 1) Sakuraba is tougher than any of us, and 2) knees to the head of a downed opponent is a good idea that sometimes goes really bad. For photographic evidence, check this out.
Jonathan Goulet vs. Jay Hieron (UFC Fight Night 2, 10/3/05)
Rory Singer vs. Josh Haynes (UFC: The Final Chapter, 10/10/06)
Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson (EliteXC: Primetime, 5/31/08)
KJ Noons vs. Nick Diaz (EliteXC: Renegade, 11/10/07)
Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort (UFC 49, 8/21/2004)
Jon Koppenhaver vs. Jared Rollins (The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale, 12/8/07)
Did we leave out any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section…