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5 UFC fighters who were accused of faking injuries

Some UFC fans felt Aljamain Sterling faked an injury to win the UFC bantamweight title.
Some UFC fans felt Aljamain Sterling faked an injury to win the UFC bantamweight title.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 04 May 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

UFC fighters are known to be some of the toughest athletes in the world; inside the octagon, they often fight through debilitating pain and injuries.

Unfortunately, there have been occasions in the past where UFC fighters have been accused of faking injuries, even though most of the claims are unsubstantiated.

Would a UFC fighter really fake an injury? It’s something only known to the fighter in question, really. On that note, let's take a look at five UFC fighters who were accused of faking injuries.


#1 Josh Koscheck (UFC 106 and UFC 113)

Josh Koscheck appeared to fake injuries in two different UFC bouts.
Josh Koscheck appeared to fake injuries in two different UFC bouts.

Former UFC welterweight title challenger Josh Koscheck found himself embroiled in controversy when he was accused of faking injuries not just once but twice inside the octagon.

The first instance came in his fight at UFC 106 with Anthony Johnson. Koscheck was looking for a takedown when Rumble blocked it and threw what looked like a devastating – and illegal – knee to the head of the former TUF star, who collapsed in a heap. Referee Mario Yamasaki immediately deducted a point from Johnson, but the replay appeared to reveal something suspicious.

An alternate angle showed Johnson’s knee seemingly grazing the right side of Koscheck’s head, barely making impact, while Koscheck was clutching his left eye.

In the end, the point deduction didn’t cost Johnson, as Koscheck choked him out in the second round anyway. But practically the entire UFC fanbase was happy to label the wrestler as a faker.

Incredibly, in Koscheck’s next fight – this time against Paul Daley – an identical situation occurred when Daley threw an illegal knee that missed, only for Koscheck to go down clutching his head again. This time though, the replay confirmed that the blow hadn’t landed, allowing Daley to avoid a point deduction.

However, after this incident, it was pretty clear that Koscheck was apparently more than willing to milk any potential harm caused by an illegal blow to his advantage.


#2 Aljamain Sterling (UFC 259)

Aljamain Sterling was clearly knocked out by an illegal blow from Petr Yan but was still accused of faking it.
Aljamain Sterling was clearly knocked out by an illegal blow from Petr Yan but was still accused of faking it.

If UFC fans were entirely justified in accusing Josh Koscheck of faking an injury following an illegal knee, they were completely unjustified in accusing Aljamain Sterling of faking an injury in his UFC bantamweight title fight with Petr Yan at UFC 259.

Sure, it was arguable that Yan was winning the clash by the time the fourth round came about. But when the Russian landed a brutal and illegal knee to the head of Sterling, who was grounded at the time, it was clear that the Funk Master was knocked silly.

And after cageside doctors checked him over, they clearly agreed and immediately called a stop to the fight. But the fact that Yan was disqualified for the illegal blow – making Sterling the new UFC bantamweight champion – meant that controversy over the situation would ensue.

In the incident's aftermath, not only did plenty of fans accuse Sterling of faking and milking the situation, but a number of his fellow UFC fighters also did the same. The likes of Henry Cejudo, Darren Till and TJ Dillashaw called out Sterling on Twitter.

Sterling, for his part, labelled his detractors 'clowns' and even detailed the health issues he’d had in the aftermath of the fight. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop some UFC fans from continuing accusing Sterling of faking to win UFC gold.


#3 Todd Duffee (UFC Fight Night 158)

Todd Duffee was accused of milking an eye poke by opponent Jeff Hughes at UFC Fight Night 158.
Todd Duffee was accused of milking an eye poke by opponent Jeff Hughes at UFC Fight Night 158.

When heavyweight Todd Duffee returned from over four years in the shelf to face off with Jeff Hughes at UFC Fight Night 158, plenty of fans were excited to see him back.

Unfortunately, after a controversial ending to the fight, plenty of those fans were happy to accuse Duffee of faking an injury, causing the clash to end in a No Contest.

After a brawl that saw both men stunned by punches, Duffee took a nasty eye poke from Hughes and told the cageside doctors that he couldn’t see. The fight was called off, but when a replay of the incident appeared to be inconclusive, the fans in attendance were angered and immediately began to boo.

For his part, Hughes later claimed that he hadn’t poked Duffee at all and that his tired opponent was probably looking for a way out of the fight.

Was that the case? Who knows. The likelihood is that the poke was highly painful for Duffee and probably did impact his vision. But with UFC fighters regularly pushing on through eye pokes, it was easy for the fans – and Hughes – to accuse Duffee of faking.


#4 Luana Pinheiro (UFC Vegas 26)

Randa Markos
Randa Markos' fight with Luana Pinheiro ended in controversy, with Markos accusing her opponent of faking an injury.

This weekend’s UFC Vegas 26 card wasn’t short on controversy, as strawweight veteran Randa Markos was disqualified in her fight with newcomer Luana Pinheiro for an illegal upkick.

The reason that the disqualification was so controversial was that a number of people – including Markos herself and UFC commentator Paul Felder – felt that Pinheiro was milking the illegal blow to pick up her first UFC win. On the first view, the incident definitely looked somewhat suspect.

Markos’ kick didn’t appear to land cleanly, and Pinheiro seemingly had a delayed reaction to the blow, immediately causing Felder to accuse her of acting. However, the Irish Dragon refuted this accusation when a dazed Pinheiro asked the referee what had happened and whether she’d lost the fight.

Nevertheless, Markos went on record to claim that Pinheiro oversold the blow and 'stole' a win from her.

In this instance, perhaps an immediate rematch would settle things.


#5 Pedro Nobre (UFC on FX 7)

Pedro Nobre (right) was cut by the UFC after being accused of faking an injury in his fight with Iuri Alcantara.
Pedro Nobre (right) was cut by the UFC after being accused of faking an injury in his fight with Iuri Alcantara.

Brazilian featherweight Pedro Nobre only had one fight in the UFC. His short career with the promotion was probably caused by the accusation that he faked an injury in his clash with Iuri Alcantara.

Nobre looked overmatched against Alcantara from the off and found himself in deep trouble on the ground when Marajo took a back mount midway through the first round.

Alcantara began to drop some heavy shots on Nobre. But despite the fight looking all but over, referee Dan Miragliotta called time, as apparently, he spotted an illegal blow to the back of Nobre’s head.

When Nobre remained prone, face down on the mat, the cageside doctor decided to call the fight off entirely, declaring it a No Contest. The fans in attendance were immediately angered by the decision, as they felt that Nobre was milking the situation for all that it was worth.

And incredibly, the replays appeared to confirm that; the punch that supposedly hit the back of the head actually looked like it hit Nobre’s ear. In this case, the UFC clearly weren’t impressed.

Just over a week after the event, Nobre was cut from his contract with the promotion, with UFC president Dana White labelling him a 'fantastic actor' in a post-event scrum.

Published 04 May 2021
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