#3 Kazushi Sakuraba loses his ear
A genuine MMA legend, Kazushi Sakuraba made his name in Japan’s PRIDE promotion in the early 2000’s by picking up numerous wins over tough opponents, most notably 4 members of the legendary Gracie family.
Unfortunately, Sakuraba’s prime was largely short-lived, mostly down to the fact that the Japanese promoters loved to match him against far bigger fighters in physical mismatches. And so by somewhere around 2004 – when he was just 35 years old –, Sakuraba was largely done as a top-level fighter.
That didn’t stop promotions from booking him, though, and by 2010 it’d become outright scary to see the 40-year old legend getting into the ring in the DREAM promotion to fight dangerous opponents like Melvin Manhoef and ‘Mayhem’ Miller.
His worst moment undoubtedly came on December 31st, 2010. Faced with DREAM’s Welterweight Grand Prix winner Marius Zaromskis, everyone was worried that the Lithuanian fighter would deliver a trademark head kick and knock Sakuraba unconscious.
What happened was in a lot of ways far worse. An early strike saw Sakuraba’s right cauliflower ear begin to bleed, and moments later, when the veteran lunged in for a takedown, Zaromskis shoved his head down to defend. The ear was caught again and somehow, it ripped away from Sakuraba’s head completely.
We’d seen exploding cauliflower ears in MMA before – remember James Thompson against Kimbo Slice? – but this was something else entirely. Unsurprisingly, the fight was called off immediately – and Sakuraba had become the victim of one of the goriest injuries in MMA history.