In a sport where a fighter's main goal is to inflict as much damage as possible on his opponent, suffering serious injuries is an inevitability.
Five most injury-prone fighters in UFC history:
There are many reasons why UFC fighters get injured - be it the physicality of the sport, diminishing ability of a fighter to sustain injury or just plain bad luck – but the fans and the sport are worse of for it.
In the UFC, some fighters are more prone to injury than others. Some have had their careers derailed, while some were still able to achieve a ton of success inside the cage after suffering injuries.
On that note, let's take a look at five of the most injury-prone fighters to have graced the Octagon. Let's get started.
#5 Darren Till
The only fighter on this list who is yet to win a UFC title, Darren Till, has pulled out from his headliner bout against Marvin Vettori on April 10. A devastated Darren Till recently released a statement to talk about his injury:
"Every person who is around me or who has been around me knows I train on a daily basis with f-----d up knees, lower back, shoulders, hands and the list goes on,” Till wrote in a statement. “Yesterday while drilling I fell, and straight away I knew I’d broken something. To say I’m f-----g destroyed by it would be an understatement. I’ve literally put my heart, soul, mind, physical body, cash, nutrition, sleep, recovery and then some into making sure I go out there next week and take his head off. And I was 100% sure I was going to… and with ease!!!
This, however, isn't the first time Darren Till has suffered a serious injury. After losing to a former UFC middleweight champion in July, Till revealed that he tore his MCL and might require surgery. Fortunately, he didn't need to go under the knife, as rehab was enough for his knee injury to heal.
After that, Till again sustained an injury that prevented him from fighting Jack Hermansson in December last year. He broke his foot while wrestling, and his scheduled bout had to be cancelled as a result.
#4 Khabib Nurmagomedov
Fortunately for Khabib Nurmagomedov, he was able to retire with a perfect 29-0 record.
On top of that, he exited the sport gracefully by ending his career on a winning note when he defended his UFC lightweight crown against Justin Gaethje in his last ever fight.
However, Khabib Nurmagomedov's career wasn't all smooth sailing, as he has had to overcome career-threatening injuries. Many would argue that his coronation as UFC champion was delayed due to his injury woes.
In 2015, Khabib Nurmagomedov was supposed to meet Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone at UFC 187. But the fight had to be scrapped when the Dagestani hurt his knee. Khabib Nurmagomedov was expected to return against Tony Ferguson in 2017 but was again forced to withdraw after suffering another knee injury.
#3 Anthony Pettis
Possibly the flashiest fighter to have ever stepped foot inside the Octagon, Anthony Pettis is one of the most injury-prone stars in the UFC.
Pettis suffered a shoulder injury in 2012 while training for his fight against 'Cowboy' Cerrone. In impressive fashion, Pettis pushed through and earned a stoppage win against Cerrone.
Anthony Pettis suffered a nasty staph infection in the same year but recovered quickly enough to beat Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight title in August.
He successfully defended that against Gilbert Melendez but lost the title to Rafael dos Anjos in 2015. Pettis was scheduled to fight Myles Jury later that year but was forced to withdraw due to an elbow injury.
'Showtime' went on to have a decent run, winning his two most recent fights in 2020. However, Pettis never reclaimed his UFC title, which he lost six years ago.
#2 Rashad Evans
Rashad Evans's misfortune was the catalyst to Jon Jones's historic run as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in UFC history. Back in 2011, Rashad Evans was sidelined due to a knee injury and subsequently lost his UFC light heavyweight title shot against Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua.
Who stepped in for Rashad Evans? None other than his then-teammate Jon Jones. At a young age of 22, Jon Jones captured the UFC light heavyweight title, and the rest, of course, is history.
As for Rashad Evans, he defeated Tito Ortiz in his comeback fight in August 2011 but went out of commission once again due to a thumb injury. He was expected to return in 2014 against Daniel Cormier, but a leg injury forced him to pull out merely ten days before the event.
A year later, Evans announced that he'll have to wait a little longer for his UFC return, as he sustained yet another knee injury.
He finally came back in 2015 but lost to Ryan Bader. The UFC former light heavyweight champion, unfortunately, never secured another victory, as he retired after losing his fifth straight fight - doing so against Anthony Smith in 2018.
#1 Dominick Cruz
Dominick Cruz seemed destined for a dynastic title reign when he first captured the UFC bantamweight title at the start of the last decade. In 2012, Cruz was selected as a coach in reality show The Ultimate Fighter, opposite long-time rival Urijah Faber.
However, a scheduled fight between the two bitter foes was scrapped after Cruz tore his ACL. The tear was so severe that Cruz had to undergo surgery, in which his damaged ligament was replaced by a cadaver's ACL.
After spending three years away from the UFC, he returned in 2014 and recaptured the bantamweight title against TJ Dillashaw in 2016. Following a successful title defence against Faber, he lost the title to Team Alpha Male's Cody Garbrandt.
Overall, the UFC career of two-time champion Cruz is nothing to be scoffed at. But considering how dominant he was before his untimely injuries came to the fore, one cannot help but think what might have been.