For all of the outside talk about how gory and violent mixed
martial arts can be, there really have only been a handful of
matches in the promotion’s history that have been
full-fledged blood baths. Most of the time, those cuts are
superficial and quick healing, but they certainly make for an
unsettling visual. They also certainly make for an uncomfortable
setting, as the participants of the 20 bloodiest fights can
In the spirit of Halloween, we present the 20 fights that were
most likely to give you nightmares.
#20: Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Stephan Bonnar – UFC
Stephan Bonnar certainly had his share of wars in the Octagon,
including the memorable one with Forrest Griffin that provided the
tipping point for the UFC to make it in the sports world.
But in Feb. 2010, he was just another undercard fighter looking
for a win when he battled with Krzysztof Soszynski in Australia.
The bloodletting started from the opening frame, when Bonnar took a
punch to the nose, and then a later uppercut.
The real gusher, however, came in the third, as both fighters
competed against the fence. Appearing to come from an accidental
headbutt, Bonnar got the worst of it, and his forehead immediately
was spraying out blood. Unfortunately, the cut was much too deep to
continue, the cageside physician ruled, and Soszynski was awarded a
#19: Jim Miller vs. Mac Danzig – UFC 100
If you didn’t attend UFC 100 or watch the undercard, but
were in one of the estimated 1.6 million households to plunk down
cash for the pay-per-view, you might have wondered exactly why the
Octagon was already blood red at the start of the broadcast.
For that, you can thank Mac Danzig and Jim Miller, who were part
of an undercard so loaded that it included future UFC
light-heavyweight Jon Jones and Hall of Famer Mark Coleman.
But in his time in the spotlight, Miller was both excellent and
violent, opening up a cut on Danzig’s hairline in the first
round, and wailing away on it with elbows that had Danzig leaking
for the rest of the fight. It didn’t help that Danzig
couldn’t keep Miller off of him. Whether on the ground or
from distance, Miller refused to turn down the volume on his
attack, scoring six takedowns and landing almost 63% of his
strikes. The result was a constant and sometimes spurting stream of
blood, along with a Miller unanimous decision.
#18: Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 49
At his best, Randy Couture could break down any opponent,
working him over from the top or in the dirty boxing clinch game
with his elbows.
In 2004, just seven months after losing the UFC
light-heavyweight championship to Vitor Belfort on a cut, Couture
went back to work in the trilogy fight between them.
It was a typical Couture mauling. Couture cut Belfort near the
start of the second round, and utilizing his top control, slammed
away at Belfort, opening up the wound. Couture owned the position,
landing 131 of 154 total strikes, and as each punch landed, Belfort
bled out. Before long, Couture’s white shorts were red.
The beating was so sustained and effective, at one point,
Couture’s punch rocked Belfort’s head so hard that it
sprayed the cageside camera with blood. Finally, after third round
ended, Belfort sat in disappointment at his situation, and the
doctors soon decided he was done.
#17: Martin Kampmann vs. Diego Sanchez – UFC on Versus
Diego Sanchez was never really in a fight unless he was
bleeding, it seemed. It was only then that he could summon his best
In 2011, he fought Martin Kampmann in a UFC on Versus main event
that ended up as one of the year’s bloodbaths. It
didn’t take long to get this one started, as Kampmann opened
up his opponent in the first, and also knocked him down during the
Of course, this just meant Sanchez would come back harder in the
second. In each round, the output went up for both men, as did the
violence quotient. Sanchez was cut under his left eye, then under
his right eye. Then his left eye swelled up. His nose bloodied and
ran down his chest. Kampmann, too, sustained a gash of his own.
Somehow, despite being out-landed during the fight, Sanchez
earned a decision.
#16: BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez – UFC 107
After a four-fight win streak, Diego Sanchez was given a
lightweight title shot against BJ Penn at UFC 107. But Penn was at
the top of his game, and he constructed one of the best
championship performances in UFC history.
During the 4+ round fight, Penn connected on an astonishing 70%
of his strikes, was hit only eight times, and stuffed all 27 of
Sanchez’s takedown tries. It was a whitewashing. Or perhaps a
whitewashing bathed in red. Penn systematically attacked
Sanchez’s face one strike at a time, causing several cuts,
including ones to his nose and lips.
Most of the blood shed would wait until the final round. Penn
had warded off yet another Sanchez takedown when he connected with
a head kick that immediately tore open a three-inch gash across the
left side of Sanchez’s forehead. Sanchez bravely dug in for
another takedown try but when they separated, his face was stained
red. The doctor got one look at it, and all that was left was
Penn’s blood-licking routine and the official decision.
#15: Jon Madsen vs. Abe Wagner – The Ultimate Fighter:
Officially, Abe Wagner never fought in the UFC, but he did
compete in the Octagon during season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, facing Jon
Madsen in a quarterfinal matchup.
While Wagner was mostly a striker, Madsen was a wrestler, and he
used that stylistic advantage to take Wagner down early and keep
him there. During his prolonged assault, Madsen landed a strike
that cut Wagner on the right side of his forehead. From then on, it
seemed like every landed punch brought more blood with it. While
Wagner tried to defend, he couldn’t find a way to get back to
his feet, and was savaged on the ground, leaving two huge puddles
of blood by the end of the first round, as well as his face and
right arm covered.
Between rounds, the doctor looked at it, but Wagner’s cut
men did a good job slowing down the flow, so Wagner was allowed to
continue. Unfortunately for him, Madsen took him down immediately
and continued his assault.
Wagner did briefly force a standup, but was taken right back
down, allowing Madsen to create a matching blood pool on the
opposite side of the cage. When doctors cleaned off the cut, they
could see straight down to the bone.
#14: Josh Neer vs. Keith Wisniewski – UFC on Versus
Josh Neer had always had a reputation as a brawler. After all
that “Dentist” nickname didn’t come out of thin
air, but his Oct. 1, 2011 fight with Keith Wisniewski might have
been his masterpiece of violence.
The two fighters were both veterans, and perhaps because of it,
neither seemed to want to back down in a battle of chicken that was
taking place against the cage. Much of the fight was fought in a
clinch, making it likely that it was always going to come down to
who could do the better work with his elbows.
The answer, of course, was Neer, who really went to work in the
second round, firing off a barrage of elbows that cut Wisniewski
multiple times, including over both of his eyes. Midway through the
round, his face was a crimson mask. Not too long afterward, Neer
tried to lock up a standing guillotine, and the pressure on
Wisniewski’s head led to blood spurting everywhere.
As the round end, ref Dan Miragliotta visibly shook his head in
equal parts amazement and disgust, but when he checked with the
cageside doctor, it was determined that Wisniewski had had
#13: Rory Singer vs. Josh Haynes – UFC: Ortiz vs. Shamrock
At the time it took place, the UFC’s Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock trilogy
fight was a ratings bonanza, drawing millions to the television
broadcast, but only the people watching live at the Seminole Hard
Rock Hotel & Casino in Seminole, Florida, got to experience the
night’s most hotly contested fight.
Rory Singer and Josh Haynes were both participants on season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter, and while
Singer was a natural middleweight, Haynes started off competing as
a light-heavyweight. But a few months later, Haynes was ready to
move down, and he was welcomed there by his former cast mate.
Haynes made it through the first mostly unscathed, until Singer
landed a head kick that appeared to break Haynes’ nose. From
then on, it bled the rest of the way, with Singer’s reach
advantage paying dividends. In the second, Haynes floored Singer
with an overhand right, which left him on top and bleeding on
In the third, with blood dripping down his nose, mouth and
chest, Haynes was asked if he wanted to continue. “Hell
yeah,” he said. But the faucet was leaking and could not be
fixed. A second time he was checked, and he pleaded to fight. He
was allowed to continue, but he ultimately lost in a decision.
#12: Donald Cerrone vs. KJ Noons – UFC 160
Donald Cerrone has always been an MMA violence all-star, so when
he faced of with fellow striker KJ Noons, fireworks were in the
The first round began innocently enough, although Noons did
leave it with a small abrasion near his right eye. It soon began to
swell, and Noons consistently began wiping it, which probably made
it a bigger target for Cerrone. Before long, Cerrone had bloodied
Noons’ nose. But it was in the third when things really
picked up. Just over a minute in, Cerrone was able to score a
takedown, and then opened up his tool box, smashing Noons with a
hail of elbows and punches that lasted for most of the remainder of
the round. Strike by strike, you could see the damage accumulating,
and by the end of it, Noons face was the same color as the red tape
on Cerrone’s gloves.
#11: Joe Stevenson vs. Yves Edwards – UFC 61
After winning season two of The Ultimate Fighter as a welterweight, Joe
Stevenson eventually figured that a move down to 155 would be his
best career path, and so he did so at UFC 61, taking on the veteran
The crafty Edwards got off to a strong start, winning the first
round, although he did sustain a cut to the left side of his
forehead from an elbow during a brief period he was on the bottom.
That would turn out to be a very major factor.
About a minute into the second, Stevenson took Edwards down,
trapped him against the fence, and fired off a right that ripped
the cut wide open. Stevenson postured up and dropped a series of
elbows and fists until ref John McCarthy was forced to check on
Edwards. When Edwards got up, the left side of his face had blood
Edwards was allowed to continue, and Edwards was placed back in
his blood puddle to restart. Stevenson kept up his assault, and at
the end of the second round, the cageside doctor decided Edwards
had seen enough.
#10: Sean Sherk vs. Kenny Florian – UFC 64
One of the bloodiest title matches in history took place on Oct.
14, 2006, taking place just before Anderson Silva won his UFC
It was Kenny Florian, just eight fights into his career, taking
on Sean Sherk for the vacant lightweight championship. Florian
entered the arena wearing a samurai outfit, perhaps an unintended
foreshadowing of what was to come.
And what happened was both men getting sliced up. Florian was
already known for his hellacious “hell-bows,” and
despite being taken down, it was one from the bottom that opened up
Sherk. As the fight went on, Sherk’s sizable wrestling
advantage continued to manifest itself, leaving Sherk in the top
position and bleeding all over his opponent. Even though he was
winning rounds, from the looks of it, Sherk was in a major
By the time the fight was over, Florian’s shorts, which
started out white, had been dyed pink, while Sherk’s cut
continued to ooze until the final bell.
Years later, Florian did an interview during which he touched on
the famous fight.
“There was so much blood, I can’t even tell
you,” he said. “It was ridiculous. I can still taste it
to this day. Like liquid metal. It was nuts.”
#9: Jeremy Stephens vs. Estevan Payan – UFC
Elbows and foreheads just aren’t meant to go together. The
combination is frequently responsible for some of the worst cuts in
MMA. Even though it’s often only a surface wound, it’s
rarely a pretty sight.
On the same night that Cerrone and Noons had their own blood
bath, Jeremy Stephens and Estevan Payan one-upped them at UFC 160,
after Payan took an elbow from Stephens in the first round of his
Octagon debut. If that’s all it was, he might have made it
out OK, but Stephens went back to work in the second round after
scoring a takedown, letting loose with a barrage of elbows that
turned on the tap. From there on out, Payan was gushing, leaving
pools small and big in his wake. Admirably, he fought until the
final bell but lost a unanimous decision. Afterward, even Stephens
admitted that he “cringed” at all of the bloodshed
#8: Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Lytle – UFC 86
Chris Lytle was always a blood-and-guts fighter, so it was no
major surprise when an opponent sliced him open. The most memorable
of these scenarios took place in July 2008, when he fought Josh
For the most part, Koscheck was a very difficult matchup for
Lytle. He had the wrestling to take the fight to the ground, and
the submission defense to stifle any attempts. So what we ended up
with was a fight mostly spent on the ground.
In an ordinary fight, that would have been no problem, but in
the second round, Koscheck teed off and opened up a cut above
Lytle’s right eye. It bled liberally. At one point near the
end of the round, Koscheck worked him over over near the cage,
leaving little puddles of plasma every few feet. When Lytle finally
got up, he had blood covering nearly all of the skin on his face
and running all the way down his right arm, while Koscheck’s
blonde hair was now streaked pink.
#7: Stefan Struve vs. Dennis Stojnic – UFC 99
Stefan Struve is huge, 7 feet tall and around 250 pounds, so it
stands to reason that he’s got a lot of blood pumping through
his system. We got to witness it first-hand at UFC 99, when he
fought Denis Stojnic in his second UFC bout.
Struve spent most of the first round on his back, with Stojnic
looking for a game-changer. With about 40 seconds left, he threw a
series of hammerfists, and one of them opened a gash across
The cut kept leaking as Struve pulled guard in the second round
before reversing and ending up on top. Eventually, he got
Stojnic’s back and locked in a rear naked choke. In tensing
up his muscles to finish the fight, his cut began spraying
everywhere, all over Struve, Stojnic and the mat. He couldn’t
get the finish but stayed on it.
“This is like hot oil wrestling with blood,” UFC
analyst Joe Rogan said at one point.
Finally, thankfully, Struve got under Stojnic’s neck and
closed the show with the choke, leading to the memorable image of
Struve celebrating the win while covered in his own blood.
#6: Edwin DeWees vs. Gideon Ray – The Ultimate Fighter
Technically, this was not an official UFC fight, but a
first-round matchup on season 4 of TUF. Regardless, it’s still
worthy of its place on this list.
Two minutes into the second, DeWees was working the top position
with elbows when suddenly, his forehead started bleeding.
It’s never been clear what exactly caused the cut. Even
replays are inconclusive, although it looks to have been caused by
his own glove. Nevertheless, the cut near the top of his forehead
immediately began spraying.
The cut was immeidately checked, and the fight restarted in the
same position. DeWees’ hair was platinum blonde, and within
seconds, it was streaked Chris Leben-red. Ray was clearly grossed
out, and was motivated enough to quickly reverse position. Since
TUF fights are scheduled for two rounds, the scene could have been
over after two, but of course, scorecards had them tied and they
needed an overtime round.
Ray started the extra round with a spinning kick, slipped and
ended up on the ground, where DeWees proceeded to bleed all over
him for the better part of five minutes. The cut was so bad that at
times, DeWees would cover it to slow the bleeding with one hand
while throwing a strike with the other. He eventually won a
decision, and the title of bloodiest TUF fight ever.
#5: Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon – UFC 155
Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon have always been two of the most game
fighters on the UFC roster, so it came as no surprise that the two
would take part in one of 2012’s best fights. It was also one
of the year’s bloodiest.
It didn’t take long for the carnage to begin. Midway
through the first, Miller opened up with a series of shots from the
clinch, including a knee and elbow, that immediately carved up
Lauzon’s forehead in two places: right above his right
eyebrow, and on the top of his head. For the rest of the fight,
those cuts were spraying blood. Since Lauzon spent large portions
of the fight on his back, his face was often covered in plasma as
gravity took effect. With about two minutes left though, Lauzon
swept Miller and ended up on top. Of course that meant that now
Miller, too, would be painted red, and by the end of the round,
they looked like a couple of knifing victims.
It got even worse in the third. Miller was cut under his left
eye, and Lauzon, not to be outdone, received two new cuts on his
left eye. The war of attrition finally ended in a decision for
Miller, stitches for Lauzon, and respect for both.
#4: Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs. David Heath –
One of the most infamous episodes in recent UFC history took
place in August 2007, precipitated, it seems, by some fairly
standard trash talking. During the UFC 74 weigh-ins of their fight,
David Heath had reportedly told Renato “Babalu” Sobral,
“You’re going down, motherf—er.”
That apparently set Sobral off, but the fireworks wouldn’t
go off until the second round of their match, when Sobral took the
fight to the ground and opened up with a barrage. Heath was soon
bloodied and Sobral fired off about 11 straight rights to the head,
opening the cut up further. Heath’s forehead was soon
spraying blood in his eyes and mat, and because of the blood in his
eyes he had trouble seeing. Babalu seemed to revel in the gore,
landing at will. Most of this action had taken place in one section
of the mat, which was dyed completely red. Finally, Heath gambled
and tried to return to his feet, but Babalu snaked his arm under
his neck and cinched an anaconda choke, forcing a tap.
As it turned out, that wasn’t enough for Sobral, who held
the choke an extra two seconds, saying, “He has to learn
respect.” Ironically, the deepest cut was saved for Sobral,
who was cut from the organization for holding the choke too
#3: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva – UFC 146
After Cain Velasquez lost the UFC heavyweight championship in
2011, he needed a bounceback fight. He was matched up with Antonio
Silva, who was coming off a loss of his own.
The fight was an absolute, one-sided blood bath. Within seconds
of the opening bell, Velasquez had Silva on the ground, and the
giant would never find his way back up. At the one-minute mark,
Velasquez fired off a left elbow that immediately cut Silva’s
face. From there on, the cut seemed to become Velasquez’s
target, as he fired off punches and elbows. Almost immediately,
Silva’s face was covered red. Ref Josh Rosenthal did have the
doctor look at it, but the fight continued in the same position.
Velasquez continued to pound away on Silva’s face. Finally,
at 3:36 the fight was over, but not before the Octagon mat looked
like a CSI crime scene.
#2: BJ Penn vs. Joe Stevenson – UFC 80
At his best, BJ Penn was a buzzsaw, an uber-talented,
multi-skilled champion who was capable of winning in every facet of
the game. When he fought Joe Stevenson at UFC 80, it was a showcase
of everything he did so well.
Within seconds of the opening round, Penn had scored a
knockdown, and mostly dominated the rest of the way. But with just
less than 40 seconds left in the opening frame, he sliced his right
elbow across Stevenson’s brow, immediately splitting him
open. Blood quickly began spurting everywhere, blinding
When the round ended, Stevenson’s cut men had some serious
work to do. The spurt was briefly reduced to a leak, but Penn had
smelled blood, and targeted Stevenson with jabs and crosses. About
midway through the round, Penn knocked him down again, soon took
Stevenson’s back, and in a moment that became an iconic
photo, Penn choked him out, applying so much pressure that a stream
of blood could be seen shooting from his forehead.
#1: Jonathan Goulet vs. Jay Hieron – UFC Ultimate Fight
Neither Jonathan Goulet or Jay Hieron were ever able to carve
out any real success for themselves in the Octagon, but they did
carve out a little piece of history on an October night in 2005,
when they took place in what was undeniably, unquestionably, the
bloodiest fight in UFC history.
Things started innocently enough as Hieron used his wrestling
advantage to take the fight down and hunt a submission, and both
fighters made it through the first round unscathed. But 30 seconds
into the second, Goulet caught a clinch and landed a knee that
split Hieron’s forehead. Within seconds, the cageside doctor
was checking it, but let it continue. The cut bled profusely,
dripping all over the mat. Making it worse, Hieron was in top
position for what seemed like an eternity, so his cut was
constantly dripping all over Goulet. By the end of the round, both
fighters looked like horror movie victims.
Hieron was allowed to go out for round three, but after Goulet
cracked him with another knee in a few seconds in, ref Jon Schorle
took another look and called in the doctor again. This time,
he’d seen enough and Goulet and Hieron could finally attempt
to clean off.