What Happened to These Famously Injured UFC Fighters?

If you’re a fan of UFC, then you’re probably no stranger to watching your favourite fighters get injured during an event. This doesn’t always spell the end of their career, but it’s a worrying time for the fighter, fans and everyone that works for them. Sometimes the injuries see them take time off and fade from the spotlight, while others come back stronger than ever. Stipe Miocic, who’s certainly cemented his legacy as one of the more successful athletes repping sports in Ohio, was recently sent to hospital after a brutal knockout in a match against Francis Nganno. He’s also had an injured knee and even suffered a black eye after being poked in it by Daniel Cormier. Although he quickly got better from the eye injury, any injury like this is going to be at the forefront of a fighters mind the next time they go into battle.

Recently, during the UFC 264 main event, Conor McGregor lost his fight against Dustin Poirier after McGregor broke his leg and the doctor called time on the fight. This has led a lot of fans (and likely McGregor himself) to question what will happen next – will he be able to return to the sport once he’s healed? Will he actually want to? While only time can tell what will happen to McGregor after his injury, we decided to take a look at other UFC fighters that have faced year-long injuries, to see what happened to them after the dust settled.

Middleweight fighter Anderson Silva of Brazil looks on before the UFC Media Day at Escola de Boxe Cesario Bezerra on April 17, 2019 in Rio de...
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Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva was a huge name in the world of MMA – even if you don’t closely follow the sport you’re likely to have heard his name. To this day Silva holds the record for longest title reign in UFC history, which stands at 2457 days. Anderson Silva was a household name and a favourite to win, with an impressive 16-fight win streak by the time he stepped into the octagon to battle Chris Weidman at UFC 168 in 2013. Weidman finally ended Silva’s win streak, but it wasn’t until a rematch in December 2013 that Silva’s life would be changed forever. Weidman successfully blocked a powerful kick from Silva that saw his leg snap in half, leaving him with multiple fractures. While at the time it looked to be a career-ending move, Silva went on to recover and was medically cleared to return to the sport less than two years later. However, Silva never returned to glory after his injury, winning only one fight in 5 years before retiring from the sport.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira of Brazil steps on the scale during the UFC 198 weigh-in at Arena da Baixada stadium on May 13, 2016 in Curitiba, Parana,...
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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, better known as Minotauro, has gone down in history for being on the receiving end of one of the worst injuries sustained during a UFC fight when he went against Frank Mir at UFC 140 in 2011. On first inspection it was thought that the competitor could recover without needing surgery, but this soon fell by the wayside. Nogueira received an intitial 60-day medical suspension but after further inspection he had to go into theatre to have 16 screws inserted into his arm in what was described as a “complex break”. At the time, a lot of people heard about the extent of his injuries and expected him to not return to fighting after he’d recovered. However, just a year later Nogueira returned to the Octagon for UFC 153 and managed a second-round submission win over Dave Herman. Sadly the returning win appeared to be a fluke, as after a string of losses Nogueira retired in 2015.

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Dominick Cruz

If there’s a name that makes you think of injuries, it’s probably Cruz. Dominick Cruz is living proof that sometimes you just aren’t able to recover as quickly as you think you can, and your whole body is likely to suffer, not just where you’ve been injured. Cruz went through a long battle with his body, having torn his ACL. After nearly 3 years away from the sport, Cruz finally returned to MMA in September 2014 where he won his first fight back. However, his whole body had been weakened by his time away, and in December of the same year he tore the ACL in his other knee which saw him take a year-long break from the sport. It’s not all bad news though – after a one year break from the sport Dominick Cruz came back to MMA and continued his excellent record, only losing two fights to this day. The MMA star even won Comeback Fighter of the Year in 2014.

(Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov had a reputation for riling up his opponents, and had the record to go with it. Despite the fighter’s incredible record and strong determination, he wasn’t immune to injury. After a victory against Rafael Dos Anjos in 2014, Nurmagomedov suffered a torn meniscus that forced him to back out of two fights, followed by a rib injury that further delayed his return. Despite the setbacks, Khabib Nurmagomedov returned to the sport just a year later and continued his incredible winning streak. After 29 fights and more than a decade in the sport, Nurmagomedov competed in his final match at UFC 254 in October 2020 and retired with the impressive record of having not lost a single match. It goes to show that sometimes sustaining an injury gives a fighter chance to work on themselves and come back stronger.

There’s no doubt that MMA fighting is a very dangerous sport. The headlines are constantly filled with the latest UFC fighter that’s had to take a break from the sport to recover, as well as rumours of retirement due to injury. The fighters we’ve looked at are living proof that an injury doesn’t always end your career, but in a few cases it might have been better to retire than get back in the cage.

After Conor McGregor sustained a gruesome leg injury there have been questions raised about whether he will be able to return to fighting. It’s been revealed that fans will have to wait at least a year to see is McGregor is able to return to fighting, and even then he may need more time to heal.

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