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Cauliflower Ear: Badge of Honor or an Eyesore?

Cauliflower Ear: Badge of Honor or an Eyesore?


The cauliflower ear. I remember attending my first practices with the middle school wrestling team and seeing my coach with a bulging deformed ear. I honestly had no idea what it was at the time, and I was afraid to ask him. I thought maybe it was a birth defect of some sort, or that he had been in some sort of accident. I was not prepared possibly insult him to satisfy my curiosity. Eventually I found out what it was of course, and it became clear it was a hazard of participating in wrestling, hence the headgear we were provided with for training.

The condition was made famous in America by wrestling at first, but of course as the years went on it began to make its way into to BJJ and MMA.  The most common cause of cauliflower ear blunt trauma to the ear, which is why it is so prevalent in contact sports, martial arts, and grappling. When blood flow is blocked, the affected cartilage can die and fold onto itself; scar tissue may form, which contributes to a swollen and deformed look. Cauliflower ear is treatable by visiting a doctor to remove the blockage. It is also preventable by wearing appropriate head gear and ear guards.

In the MMA and grappling world there are famous cauliflower ears. Ears that have been maimed beyond recognition from years of trauma and hard training. Legends like Frankie Edgar, Dan Henderson, and BJ Penn have such advanced cauliflower ear, that the ear has become close to unrecognizable as a human body part. These ears tell a story of unwavering dedication to combat sports, and serve as a reminder of the countless battle these men have endured in their time as warriors of the mat and cage.

Do you wear your cauliflower ear as a badge of honor, or do you try to protect your ears from damage? Some athletes wear the deformity proudly, and have no qualms about sporting it. And there are others who take preventative measures, and have the ears drained if they happen to be inflicted with the condition.

Where do you stand on Cauliflower Ear?

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