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5 UFC fights that ended prematurely due to injury

Conor McGregor at UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3
Conor McGregor at UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3
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Ricardo Viagem

UFC fighters, as do all mixed martial artists⁠ — and indeed all combat sports athletes ⁠— undergo grueling physical experiences. They train as hard as any athlete in the world, exposing their bodies to demands that most people can't grasp.

While this enables mixed martial artists to get into the kind of shape needed to not only strike, wrestle, and grapple, but to simultaneously engage in those facets of unarmed combat under a unified fighting system.

Doing so, however, comes with costs. When fighters aren't being knocked unconscious, choked out, or having their joints fractured, they're sustaining freak injuries.

At times, these injuries happen during training camps prior to scheduled fights. In rare moments, however, injuries take place at UFC events, ending fights in anticlimactic and occasionally shocking fashion.

Brian Ortega's loss to Yair Rodriguez at UFC on ABC 3 is the most recent example. This list details five different UFC fights that ended prematurely due to injuries sustained by fighters.


#5. Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung, UFC 163

In the first half of the 2010s decade, there was enormous interest in seeing Jose Aldo face Anthony Pettis. For many, it was a dream matchup. Aldo was riding a 15-fight win streak that included victories over the likes of Chad Mendes and Frankie Edgar as he mounted title defense after title defense.

Anthony Pettis, however, was a former WEC lightweight champion in hot pursuit of the UFC lightweight title. Regarded as one of the most exciting strikers of the time, 'Showtime' had earned a shot at UFC lightweight gold.

Unwilling to wait, Pettis chose to challenge Aldo for the featherweight title. While UFC President Dana White agreed to the matchup, it was not to be.

PIC: Jose Aldo climbs out of the cage to celebrate as the Korean Zombie holds his injured shoulder. http://t.co/chv1beJEtw

Pettis suffered a devastating knee injury and had no choice but to withdraw from the bout. He was replaced by Chan Sung Jung, a heavy-handed striker with an iron chin and slick submission game. On a three-fight win streak, 'The Korean Zombie' challenged the Brazilian legend at UFC 163.

When the two finally clashed, Aldo's superiority was clear. The Brazilian won every round, but as the fight entered the championship rounds, he began to tire and the momentum slowly swung in Jung's favor.

Unfortunately, fight fans were robbed of a thrilling ending to the matchup when Jung separated his shoulder while throwing an overhand right.

With his shoulder dislocated, 'The Korean Zombie' was heavily compromised and the fight was stopped soon afterward as Aldo swarmed him. Unable to defend himself, Jung turtled while grasping his injured shoulder before Herb Dean stepped in to call an end to the bout.


#4. Max Holloway vs. Charles Oliveira, UFC Fight Night 74

Before he became the UFC lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira was a featherweight contender struggling with weight-cutting issues. Yet, at the time of his matchup with Max Holloway, the Brazilian was on a four-fight win streak, with three of his victories coming by way of submission.

His opponent, Max Holloway, was on a win streak of his own, having won six straight fights before both men locked horns to determine who would helm the future of the featherweight division.

At the time, Holloway was coming into his own as one of the finest boxers in the UFC. Charles Oliveira, meanwhile, was already one of the most fearsome submission specialists in the promotion.

It was an interesting stylistic matchup, least of all because both fighters possessed lanky, tall builds that were a better fit for the lightweight division.

Aug23.2015Max Holloway competes in his first ever UFC main event, & defeats Charles Oliveira by TKO.Olivera injured his esophagus which forced the fight to end. https://t.co/b30MGo5mYN

The matchup, however, ended almost as soon as it started. Yet, it was not due to a thrilling knockout or a shocking submission. Instead, the fight's conclusion came from a stuffed takedown.

Oliveira dove for Holloway's hips but the Hawaiian defended well, immediately digging for underhooks and turning his foe towards the fence before securing top control.

When both men rose to their feet, Oliveira turned away, posting his arm out in agony. Holloway sought to swarm him but Herb Dean stepped in to wave off the action. Oliveira tore his esophagus during his failed takedown attempt, collapsing to the ground in the first minute of the bout.


#3. Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman, UFC 261

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman was at a crossroads in his career last year. Prior to facing Uriah Hall, he was 2-5 in his last seven fights.

Before the stunning downswing his career had taken, Weidman was an undefeated champion with aspirations of challenging Jon Jones at light heavyweight.

Unfortunately, after going 1-4 in the middleweight division after his last successful title defense against Vitor Belfort, the All-American's light heavyweight debut against Dominick Reyes ended in disaster.

Forced to return to the middleweight division, Weidman was in desperate need of a win. A win finally came against Omari Akhmedov.

OMG Chris Weidman’s Leg!! #UFC261 #UFC https://t.co/G7e1UZtg1D

Hoping to recapture middleweight gold while touting himself as a difficult stylistic matchup for reigning middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya, Weidman was scheduled to face Uriah Hall — one of several fighters thought to be the second coming of Anderson Silva, a foe Weidman had twice bested.

In a karmic twist of Weidman's second win over Silva, during which the All-American shattered the Brazilian's shin by checking a low kick, Weidman himself shattered his own shin when Uriah Hall checked his low kick 17 seconds into the bout. Weidman collapsed, and Herb Dean immediately called an end to the bout.


#2. Yair Rodriguez vs. Brian Ortega, UFC on ABC 3

The featherweight division is in desperate need of new contenders for reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski. The latter is fresh off a dominant win over Max Holloway in their trilogy bout at UFC 276.

While Brian Ortega already faced the Australian great for the title at UFC 266, he failed to overcome the challenge he posed.

Yair Rodriguez, however, has been an elite contender in the division for years but never quite managed to build a strong enough win streak to stake his claim for a title fight before a loss sent him tumbling down the rankings.

At UFC on ABC 3, he was set to face friend and foe Brian Ortega in a bout Rodriguez claimed would earn him a title fight.

WATCH: Brian Ortega's shoulder pops out. Yair Rodriguez gets the first-round stoppage #UFCLongIsland #UFCLongIsland https://t.co/nUcx7I8RfH

Eager to erase the memory of his strong but ultimately unsuccessful performance against Max Holloway, 'El Pantera' looked sharp, using his kickboxing to outstrike Ortega.

While Rodriguez, like most fighters who favor kicks as their primary weapons, once needed enormous space to implement his striking style. However, his boxing has improved by leaps and bounds.

Ortega, meanwhile, remained as he'd always been: powerful, tough, and defensively irresponsible. He failed to move his head off the center-line, being stung by Rodriguez's strikes as he came forward.

Finally, however, 'T-City' secured a bodylock before dragging the fight to the ground. His foe, though, was prepared.

Rodriguez immediately threatened him with an armbar. Ortega, who has had two shoulder surgeries so far, sought to yank his arm out of the armbar. Instead, he separated his own shoulder, injuring himself and ending the fight en route to a third shoulder surgery.


#1. Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor, UFC 264

Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier have now crossed paths thrice inside the octagon. The Irishman won the first bout with an early knockout, but lost the following two fights by knockout and a doctor stoppage.

Fans of 'The Notorious' are adamant that Poirier has not proven himself to be the better fighter. They claim that his first victory over McGregor was a fluke and that the second win was mere misfortune for the Irishman.

The leadup to their trilogy bout at UFC 264 was far different from the buildup to their previous matchup. When both men faced each other in their initial rematch, McGregor was uncharacteristically respectful and soft-spoken, as he had been during the buildup to his prior bout with Donald Cerrone.

Fans have since speculated that it was a decision McGregor made to salvage his image after a litany of scandals outside the cage.

An injury to Conor McGregor's leg forced a Doctor's Stoppage in the #UFC264 main event.Dustin Poirier won via TKO. https://t.co/jsZVltGniI

By the time his third matchup with Poirier was scheduled, however, 'The Notorious' reverted to his usual trash-talking persona. He disparaged his foe before promising to deal such a brutal beating that 'The Diamond' would leave the octagon on a stretcher.

The Irishman, however, was only half-right: someone would indeed leave the octagon on a stretcher, but it would not be Poirier.

Come fight night, both men started their bout at a furious pace. The same problems McGregor encountered in their initial matchup were present as Poirier's check hook, Philly Shell, and counter-punching troubled him.

They forced 'The Notorious' to seek refuge by initiating a clinch. However, prior to doing so, the Irishman had been throwing kicks with reckless abandon.

What exactly damaged McGregor's leg remains unclear. The Irishman claims he had micro-fractures prior to the bout, while Poirier asserts that he'd checked one of his foe's low kicks.

Regardless, after a failed guillotine choke, McGregor sprang back to his feet. However, when he stepped back after throwing a straight left, his shin crumbled under the weight of his step, snapping in half to end the bout due to injury.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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