Exploding Ear

UFC fighting is a popular sport that is not without its commonplace injuries. However, a 2014 women’s Bantamweight fight between Leslie Smith and Jessica Eye took an unexpected and gruesome turn when a punch from Eye caused Smith’s ear to essentially explode while inside the cage.

The Fight

Leslie Smith’s ear injury occurred during a fight between Smith and Jessica Eye at the UFC 180 event, held at at Arena Ciudad de México in Mexico City on November 15, 2014. Following a punch from Eye that connected with the left side of Smith’s head, Leslie’s ear appeared to explode in a shower of blood, leaving half of the ear’s tissue disconnected and the side of Leslie’s face covered in blood. Smith insisted that she wasn’t hurt, and after a medical inspection between the first and second rounds of the fight, she was allowed to continue. However, additional hits to her left side during the second round caused the cage-side doctor to eventually put an end to the fight, awarding Eye with a TKO victory. Smith later admitted that she wanted to keep fighting; her opponent, Jessica Eye, said she would have kept targeting the injured ear until it fell off or until the fight was stopped.

The Injury

Leslie Smith’s incredible injury was the result of an existing condition called cauliflower ear. Cauliflower ear is common among boxers and mixed martial arts fighters, and occurs when the ear suffers a blow that causes blood or other fluid to collect in the tissue that surrounds the cartilage. When this occurs, the outer ear begins to swell, which causes tissue death and results in a permanently swollen and deformed appearance. When Eye hit Smith in exactly the right way, it split the swollen ear open, causing the explosion of blood and the resulting injury. Despite the fact that the injury to her ear was severe enough to stop the fight, Leslie Smith has continued her fighting career, with her most recent win occurring on March 20, 2016.