The UFC is contested by two fighters locked inside a caged octagon exchanging blows and various techniques. It’s naturally a violent sport, but every so often fighters will absorb damaging strikes that have them expel considerable amounts of blood. But mixed martial arts being what it is, a blood-soaked canvas is no reason to end a fight—at least in most cases.
Often times these cuts and gashes are difficult to close and the blood spills everywhere, leaving the fighters in a coat of vital fluids. So if you think caged fighting is an arduous and intimidating way of life, imagine stepping in the octagon for five rounds of bloody blows, fueled by nothing but adrenaline as the adverse effects of blood loss attempt to take control. Fans of the sport typically enjoy the technical aspects and the various forms of fighting styles that clash inside the cage, but it’s hard to argue the entertainment factor when two fighters duke it out in a good ol’ fashioned bloodbath. It’s the ultimate test of endurance that exacerbates common struggles fighters must face when they step in the octagon. To put it simply: it’s just damn good entertainment.
Whether you approve of caged fighting is irrelevant when it pertains to the level of commitment and dedication these athletes must invest. There aren’t many people who would be willing to take repeated punches to the face for a living. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 most entertaining bloodbaths in UFC history:
10 Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga - UFC 74
Age isn’t a factor for former UFC fighter Randy Couture, who unleashed a flurry of strikes to bloody younger opponent Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74. He damaged the up-and-comer’s face until he broke his nose and had his blood running down his back as he continued his assault. It culminated in Couture sitting atop Gonzaga feeding him shots to the face with vicious and relentless ground-and-pound. This fight is definitely not for the squeamish as Couture basically bathed in Gonzaga’s blood as he methodically brought him down with effective boxing. The lesson here is you shouldn’t always bet on the younger fighter—15 years younger to be exact.
9 Joe Stevenson vs. Yves Edwards - UFC 61
8 Edwin DeWees vs. Gideon Ray - The Ultimate Fighter 4
This bout didn’t end well for Gideon Ray, despite him walking away with a clean face. He unleashed an elbow into Edwin DeWees’ forehead in the second round and blood began to spew over his face as the two pushed on. UFC Commissioner Dana White deemed an extra round necessary to call a winner, which didn’t work in Ray’s favour. DeWees brought him to the ground for much of the round and had his vital fluid poor on the face of his opponent as he attempted to defend himself. Ray looked visibly uneasy as a stream of blood splashed off his face. It was a literal bloodbath.
7 Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon - UFC 155
By the time this bout was over, it looked as though Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon survived a gladiator fight against a pack of ferocious lions. Miller struck first as he drew blood with a series of strikes from the clinch but Lauzon would later find himself on top of his opponent unleashing bombs to his face to bloody him up. Both endured cuts around the eye to paint the mat red but neither backed down, fighting until the very end until Miller won by decision. They both walked away with tons of stitches, having fought in one of the best and bloodiest bouts of 2012.
6 Renato Sobral vs. David Heath - UFC 74
This one was personal. Renato Sobral and David Heath had exchanged customary pre-fight trash talk before Heath said something that made his opponent hot under the collar. It culminated in the second round of the bout when Sobral unloaded a barrage of strikes to Heath’s head while he defended on the ground. He bled profusely and stained one corner of the mat in a thick coat of red, slowing him down and turning the tables in Sobral’s favour. Heath was eventually caught with an anaconda choke and submitted, but Sobral held the choke an extra two seconds because “he has to learn respect.” Sobral never fought in the UFC again as his contract was terminated for his actions.
5 Chris Lytle vs. Josh Koscheck - UFC 86
These two battled until the final bell. Color commentator Joe Rogan repeatedly expressed concern over Chris Lytle’s bloody pulp of a face but he continued on and provided Koscheck with a challenge until the very end. Both of them ended up covered in Lytle’s blood, Koscheck absorbing most of it in his bleach blonde-turned-pink hair. A corner of the canvas experienced a new paint job, too, as Koscheck pounded Lytle in the corner of the cage. Rogan described the bloodbath aptly: “Oh man…oh, it’s just wide open now. Oh man, he is pouring blood right now. This is a bloody mess.”
4 Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva - UFC 146
You do not want to be locked in a cage with Cain Velasquez. Both he and Antonio Silva were coming off losses so tensions were high and desperation set in for Velasquez in particular, who had lost his heavyweight championship. Poor Silva never had a chance as Velasquez was unchained from the opening bell, tackling his opponent to the ground and unleashing a series of strikes and elbows that carved his face. Silva’s vital fluids puddled around him as he ate consecutive shots from the 240-pound monster, who had to be held back while the doctor inspected the damage inflicted on Silva and if he could continue. He did, and the beating continued.
3 Sean Sherk vs. Kenny Florian - UFC 64
These two lightweights battled for the championship in what was a five-round exchange of bloody fists. The Fight of the Night performance had both men look as if they just fought the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 before the final bell rung. The eventual winner Sherk expelled considerable amounts of plasma on the canvas but both fighters endured punishing blows until the end. As the bout progressed blood was sporadically smeared across the canvas and on the fighters as they clinched and battled on the ground in the fifth and final round. This one warrants repeated viewings if you’re a subscriber of UFCtv.
2 BJ Penn vs. Joe Stevenson - UFC 80
This bout was borderline disturbing, with Joe Stevenson being the culprit of a blood-soaked mat yet again. BJ Penn unloaded a vicious attack that left a gash on Stevenson’s forehead and had him spill copious amounts of blood on the canvas, rendering him what Joe Rogan termed a “broken fire hydrant.” It culminated in Penn chocking out Stevenson in the second round, plasma pouring from the wound from the pressure. Penn actually licked the blood from his gloves in his post-fight celebration while Stevenson wept in defeat as he was tended to by doctors. You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
1 Jonathan Goulet vs. Jay Hieron - UFC Ultimate Fight Night 2
Jonathan Goulet and Jay Hieron escaped the first round of this fight relatively unscathed, but the second would take a grisly turn. Goulet locked Hieron in a clinch and connected with a knee to his forehead. Blood spilled onto the canvas as Goulet targeted the wound to finish off his opponent. But Hieron would end up in top position for an extended period and bathed Goulet in his vital fluids. Joe Rogan deemed the second one of the “bloodiest rounds in MMA history,” but the fighters would continue in a brief final round. Hieron received a flying knee in the opening seconds and bled like a stuck pig before the doctor stepped in and called the fight.