You have to have a certain kind of grit to be a combat fighter. It’s a hard life with a lot of obstacles and only a few out of thousands upon thousands of fighters ever really make it to the top. They put their bodies and lives on the line to compete in front of fans. They sacrifice their personal time with friends and family by training every day for hours on end. We, the fans, looking from the outside, have no clue about the pain, suffering, and determination it takes to be a world-class combat fighter. Whether it's boxing, MMA, or kickboxing; one thing is for sure, a brutal display of violence is what we're going to see.
Men and women literally go into a fight looking like a normal person and can come out looking like leftover meatloaf. Their faces explode with swelling, making them look like beings from another world. Broken bones, hematomas, and lacerations on the face are just some of the hallmark cards of a vicious fight. Many of the fighters on here are well known while others aren't. Regardless, all of them deserve praise for putting their good looks and bodies on the line. Without further ado, here are 12 shocking photos of fighters before and after their fights.
*Disclaimer: Some of these images are quite graphic, so viewer discretion is advised.
37 Marcus Davis - Before
In his hometown of Boston, Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis looked like a grenade did blow up in his face after facing Nate Diaz at UFC 118 in 2010. At the time, Davis was a well-known face of the UFC brand by receiving “Fight of the Night” and “Knockout of the Night” awards during his matches. With a record of 17-6 and coming off a recent win against Jonathan Goulet, Davis wanted to prove he can take out the hungry Diaz.
Both fighters put on a brilliant show and won “Fight of the Night,” however, Diaz got the best of Davis, focusing most of his attention on the right side of Davis’ face. The conclusion led to Davis’ face being bloodied and severally swollen with a hematoma. After peppering him with punches, Diaz choked Davis out for the win.
35 Marcus Davis - After
Both fighters continued their careers after the match. Davis went on to have one more match in the UFC, losing to Jeremy Stephens at UFC 125. After his contract was over, Davis then hit the independent circuit, ending his career with a record of 22-11 in 2014. Davis can be remembered as one of the few boxers who successfully transitioned over to MMA.
On the other hand, Diaz has only gotten more popular and deadlier since his battle with Davis. He has faced the cream of the crop, battling with greats such as Donald Cerrone, Rory MacDonald, and Rafael dos Anjos. His vocal demeanor and attitude also made him a fan favorite. Recently, Diaz has been involved with one of the hottest feuds in 2016 with Conor McGregor. Diaz won the first match at UFC 196, however, a rematch is in the books for UFC 202.
34 Joe Stevenson - Before
The main event of UFC 80 was originally booked as an interim lightweight title fight between Stevenson and Penn, however, then champ, Sean Sherk, tested positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. Due to the flunked test, Sherk was stripped of his belt, paving the way for an Undisputed Lightweight Championship match between the two competitors. Stevenson earned a six-figured contract after winning UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter 2 television series. He would lose his next match to Josh Neer, but then went on a run, securing four straight victories before the title match.
His opponent, BJ Penn, was accustomed to high profile matches and title fights as he already won the Lightweight Championship in the past and had recently fought Matt Hughes for the Welterweight Title. The match was built as the new generation of UFC vs the old guard that was around before the television series and main-stream appeal. In dominant fashion, Penn destroyed Stevenson in the second round by rear naked choke. Stevenson was noticeably upset with blood, sweat, and tears flowing from his crimson face.
32 Joe Stevenson - After
BJ Penn would go on to defend the Lightweight title against the man who claimed he never lost it, Sean Sherk. He would beat Sherk in three rounds, setting up a super fight between himself and the Welterweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre. That match was surrounded by controversy as Penn quit the match, claiming St-Pierre was cheating by using Vaseline to make himself slippery during rounds.
Even though Penn lost, he would continue defending his Lightweight Championship until Frankie Edgar pulled off the upset at UFC 112. He would go on to fight at Welterweight before having one last match against Edgar in 2014.
Stevenson never recovered from his brutal beat down at the hands of Penn. He hasn’t won a match since 2009 and only three out of his last 12. He now fights on the independent circuit, still looking for one more win.
30 Mark Hominick - Before
With a win over George Roop at UFC: Fight for the Troops 2, Mark Hominick became the number one contender in the featherweight division with a record of 20-8, but he also became a sacrificial lamb to the most dominant champion in World Extreme Cagefighting, Jose Aldo. It was announced in October 2010 that WEC would merge with the UFC, bringing a wealth of talent over. One of those talents was the Featherweight Champion, Aldo, who sported an impressive record of 18-1 at the time.
UFC 129 was particularly important to UFC and Aldo’s team because it would be the first time that the casual UFC fan would see Aldo in action. Let’s just say the co-headliner between Aldo and Hominick didn’t disappoint as they put on a very technical and grueling match for the fans, winning the “Fight of the Night” award. Aldo would win the contest by decision, which wasn’t as shocking as Hominick’s hematoma protruding from his forehead after the match. It looked as if a softball was surgically placed inside Hominick’s forehead.
28 Mark Hominick - After
For Mark Hominick, his match with Jose Aldo would be the closest he would ever get to a championship. His career also took a turn for the worst, losing his next three matches before retiring. Many discussions popped up after the match about whether or not Hominick should have kept fighting, as he had noticeable swelling. Experts say that as long as the swelling doesn’t interfere with the fighter's vision, then there is no need to stop the fight. The visuals may look disgusting, but the doctor on the sideline made the right call letting Hominick continue his battle with Aldo.
Things only got better for the Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo. He would go on to defend his title six more times before losing it to Conor McGregor at UFC 194. Even though he lost to McGregor, he would win a match at UFC 200 against Frankie Edgar for the interim Featherweight Title. A rematch between Aldo and McGregor is inevitable and will happen sooner than later.
27 Diego Sanchez - Before
The major theme of this article is that the fighter who looks like Play-Doh after the contest is usually the loser, but somehow Sanchez walked the way the victor, even though he looked like an extra in a zombie movie, which you'll see shortly. It was the first UFC event ever held in Kentucky and both Sanchez and Martin Kampmann were looking to move up the ranks in the Welterweight division. I’m sure everyone knows if you’re headlining a card, you should put everything you got out there on the mat. Both fighters didn’t disappoint, unleashing hell on earth for 15 minutes.
After losing to B.J. Penn for the Lightweight Championship, Sanchez made a move to the Welterweight division and held a 22-4 record before facing Kampmann. After losing to Jake Shields, Kampmann also needed a win in the division, sporting a record of 17-4. In the words of professional wrestling icon, Jim Ross, the fight was a “slobber knocker.” Sanchez would somehow pull out a victory with hard work and determination, winning by decision.
25 Diego Sanchez - After
Kampmann wasn’t pleased after hearing the judge’s decision and many fans also agreed with him but that’s why you don’t let the fight go to the judges. Kampmann would go on to win three straight matches against notable opponents such as Jake Ellenberger and Thiago Alves. He would then lose his last two matches and finish his career 20-7. Kampmann became a professional poker player in 2014 and announced his retirement this year, best of luck to him.
Meanwhile, Sanchez is still doing what he loves and that’s fighting. After beating Kampmann, Sanchez would never find consistency in the win department, losing more than winning. His last match was at UFC 200 against Joe Lauzon and lost by TKO. We doubt the original cast member of the first The Ultimate Fighter is hanging up his gloves just yet. Maybe he has one last run in him, if not, he sure did give us some great matches.
24 Hasim Rahman - Before
One of the toughest and most recognizable Heavyweight boxers of the modern era continued to prove his doubters wrong when he went up against a younger and more ruthless opponent in Hasim Rahman. If you were a betting man, you would bet on Rahman taking out the seasoned vet. After Rahman lost his titles to Lennox Lewis in 2001 and having a record of 35-3, it looked like the former champ was ready to make a comeback and had his sights set on Holyfield.
Holyfield was just coming off a feud with John Ruiz, winning, losing, and drawing in three contests, bringing his record to 37-5-2. The fight was mostly one-sided as Holyfield found a rhythm in his game, out-boxing Rahman. Holyfield did such a number on Rahman he had swelling on his eye, causing a hematoma to bloom. It was very noticeable that Rahman was in no condition to fight and the match ended in the technical decision in favor of Holyfield.
22 Hasim Rahman - After
It was quite embarrassing for Rahman after the match concluded as he was the favorite to win. He did argue that Holyfield head-butted him, which caused the hematoma in the first place. If you remember the infamous Holyfield vs Mike Tyson match, Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear because of a headbutt. Regardless, Holyfield’s career became relevant once again and the seasoned veteran fought Chris Byrd for the vacant IBF Heavyweight Title.
He would lose the match but continue his career until his retirement in 2011 with a record of 44-10-2. For Rahman, many thought he would never be the same fighter or come close to a championship match again, however, he proved critics wrong, winning titles and competing against the top Heavyweights in boxing. His last match was in 2014, finishing with an overall record of 50-9-2.
21 Matt Mitrione - Before
Matt ”Meathead” Mitrione burst onto the MMA scene during season 10 of UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter. Coming from a professional football background, many thought Mitrione was a joke, however, over the years he has proved to be a serious MMA fighter. In his last bout with the UFC, at UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz, Mitrione was put up against a top five contender in Travis Browne. Mitrione was coming off a loss to Ben Rothwell but before that he was on a three-fight win streak.
Browne was also coming off a loss to Andrei Arolvski, so both fighters needed the win. The match itself was surrounded in controversy as Browne would hit Mitrione with two eye pokes during the contest. This led to a broken right orbital bone which swelled up very quickly during the match. Anyone who was watching could see the swelling getting bigger and bigger. Mitrione lost the fight but took the injury like a champion.
19 Matt Mitrione - After
After the fight, Matt Mitrione recorded the process of draining the fluid from his swollen eye on Twitter. After his last fight under the UFC banner, Mitrione left for the UFC's rival company, Bellator. The injury definitely didn’t scare Mitrione from getting back in the ring as he quickly annihilated Carl Seumanutafa and Oli Thompson within a month of each other this summer. Look for Mitrione to finally get a title shot and who knows, maybe the Meatball will win.
Browne hasn’t been as lucky as Mitrione since the fight and maybe it’s karma for the eye pokes. He lost a huge match to former Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 200 this year. If he won in convincing fashion, he would have had a chance at the title. His loss drops him back in the rankings with a record of 18-4-1.
18 Cung Le - Before
UFC Fight Night: Michael Bisping vs Cung Le was the third UFC event to ever take place in China and the second time Cung Le was involved in a main event battle in the country. The main event didn’t have any title implications on the line nor would it shake the rankings in the Middleweight division. It was about styles. In one corner, you had the pontificating Michael Bisping and, in the other, you had the humble Cung Le.
Before the bout, Le held a 9-2 record with a two-fight win streak while Bisping was coming into the match with a record of 24-6 record. With Bisping having a wealth of experience over his opponent, it obviously showed in the match. In a very one-sided match, Bisping would pick apart the face of Le, constantly putting pressure on the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. By the fourth round, Le was bloodied and battered and fell to Bisping by TKO.
16 Cung Le - After
Le never recovered from the beat down and would retire in 2015 from MMA. He would be involved in a class-action lawsuit against Zuffa, LLC., the parent company of UFC. He alleges that the UFC would partake in anti-competitive practices that would affect fighters and their careers. Le has expressed a desire to compete in kickboxing matches but hasn’t yet.
His opponent, Michael Bisping, would pull off an unbelievable story. After defeating Le, Bisping would win four of his next five matches. His last match was against Luke Rockhold for the Middleweight Championship at UFC 199. In an unbelievable upset and only on 17 days notice for the fight, the seasoned veteran defeated Rockhold to earn his first title. Rumors are swirling that Dan Henderson, who gave Bisping a bitter taste in his mouth at UFC 100, is next in line for a title shot.
15 Rory MacDonald - Before
Most sequels never live up to the original, however, this was not the case for MacDonald vs Lawler II at UFC 189. Not only did the fight live up to the hype, the match also earned “Fight of the Year,” among the most prominent MMA publications. If you need an example of what a Championship fight should be like, watch this fight when you can. After losing to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 for the number one contender's spot, Rory MacDonald went on a tear in the Welterweight division, winning three straight fights before getting a title shot against Lawler.
After Lawler beat MacDonald at UFC 167, his path was a bit different than his counterpart, losing a title match to Johnny Hendricks at UFC 171. The loss lit a fire in Lawler’s belly. He would win two more matches before facing Hendricks again at UFC 181 and, this time, he would win the title. His first title defense would be against MacDonald. The match left both bloody and battered with MacDonald getting the worst of it, getting caught in a slugfest. You literally couldn’t make out MacDonald’s eyes because his face was terribly swollen after the fight.
13 Rory MacDonald - Before
broken nose broken foot but ill be back pic.twitter.com/KAakEC0qTh— Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) July 12, 2015
Lawler defended his title one more time after MacDonald before succumbing to the power of Tyron Woodley at UFC 201. It took one round for Woodley to vanquish Lawler, winning by KO. The defeat left Lawler with a record of 27-11 and if you have followed Lawler's career, you know he can bounce back from the brutal loss.
Once considered the next Georges St-Pierre, MacDonald hasn’t lived up to the hype, however, he also has carved out a pretty decent career for himself. Without a doubt a top five contender in the Welterweight division, MacDonald couldn’t get back on the winning track after losing to Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson, bringing his record to 18-4. It’s possible that both Lawler and MacDonald will meet again before both their careers are done.
12 Jerome Le Banner - Before
When your head looks like it’s growing another head, you would think that fighter would lose the match. This was not the case for Le Banner as he would beat his opponent during the K-1 World Grand Prix of 2005. The match between Le Banner and Cyril Abidi is as physical as you can get in a kickboxing match. Both threw tremendous blows, knocking each other to the canvas. The match looks so brutal, you will feel like you have been punched repeatedly after you watch the contest. Somehow, someway, Le Banner finished Abidi by TKO.
Going into the bout, Le Banner held an impressive 59-11-1-1 record, while his opponent, Abidi, sported a 24-13 record, coming off two losses. What makes this a great victory is the expression on Le Banner’s face when he realizes he won as his new head keeps growing and growing. This match will go down as one of the greatest kickboxing matches of all time and we highly recommend you watch it.
10 Jerome Le Banner - After
Not much happened for Abidi after the contest. He went on to fight three more times in the kickboxing industry, beating Stephane Reveillon but then losing to Hiraku Hori and Mitsugu Noda. Even though his career faded after the contest with Le Banner, he’s still a part of one of the greatest matches in kickboxing history.
Le Banner kept his career going after the victory. After losing more times than winning, an resurgence in his career took place at the turn of the decade, winning 14 of 18 matches from 2010 to 2015. He would continue to win high profile fights in both Muay Thai and kickboxing. His last match would be a victory by decision against Karl Roberson in 2015. His overall record is 81-22-2-1 and hasn’t planned to retire yet.
9 Fernando Vargas - Before
Before facing Shane Mosely, Fernando Vargas only lost two times in his storied career and that was to boxing legends Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad. After losing to De La Hoya in 2002, Vargas then won his next four straight, bringing his record to 26-2. His win streak set up a match with the experienced Mosley in a WBA Light Middleweight eliminator. Mosley, with a record of 41-4, was making a comeback after losing title fights to Winky Wright.
In 2006, the two would clash, Mosley left the victor while Vargas' face looked like a Halloween mask. Mosley would work on the right side of Vargas’s face for most of the match, leaving a swollen and battered face in the process. By the tenth round, the fight was stopped due to the serious injuries Vargas was sustaining. Even though the fight was stopped, Mosley was still winning the rounds and would have been the victor if the match didn’t end.
7 Fernando Vargas - After
A rematch would take place between the two in 2006. This time, Mosely would stop Vargas in the sixth round by TKO. At least Vargas didn’t look like a piece of clay after this fight. For Mosely, he would go on to compete in many more matches over his career. He would win the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Light Middleweight Title, WBA (Super) and vacant Lineal Welterweight Titles, and the vacant WBC International Welterweight Title.
He would also have a showdown with pound-for-pound the greatest of them all, Floyd Mayweather Jr. After twenty years, Mosley still competes today, recently losing to David Avanesyan for the WBA interim Welterweight Title in May. The same can’t be said for Vargas who vanished from the sport after losing to Mosely a second time and then Ricardo Mayorga in 2007. In 2011, rumors swirled that he would be making a comeback but it was canceled.
6 Kazushi Sakuraba - Before
Before UFC became to what it is today, Pride Fighting Championships was blowing the competition out of the water, putting on great matches, having the best talent, and, of course, allowing soccer kicks to a downed opponent. It was treated like a Jean Claude Van Damme Bloodsport movie, with eight-man tournaments in one day and barely any rules at all. At Critical Countdown 2005, one such contest between Ricardo Arona and Sakuraba took place which will never be forgotten by the fans who watched the battle unfold. It’s considered one of the worst one-sided beatings to ever take place in Pride.
The Middleweight tournament took place in the summer of ’05. Arona defeated Dean Lister while Sakuraba defeated Dong-Sik Yoon in the opening round, setting up a clash of styles for the quarter-finals. Arona would destroy Sakuraba’s face with lethal knee strikes and heavy blows, leading to the fight being stopped in the second round by Sakuraba’s corner men.
4 Kazushi Sakuraba - After
With Sakuraba recovering, Ricardo Arona would go on to upset one of the top fighters in Wanderlei Silva in the semi-finals. That same night, he would lose the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Final to Mauricio Rua by knock out in the first round. Arona would only fight four more times in MMA, finishing his career with a 14-5 record in 2009.
Sakuraba on the other hand, has the spirit of a warrior. After resting for three months after the demolition of his face, he would win four out of his next five matches. He would continue his MMA career until 2011, retiring after losing four straight fights. After a four-year hiatus, Sakuraba came back for one more match in 2015, losing to Shinya Aoki by TKO. You can find Sakuraba in Japan’s professional wrestling industry, working for the promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling.
3 Denis Lebedev - Before
An absolute beast in the Cruiserweight division in boxing, Denis Lebedev was on quite the run as the WBA Cruiserweight Champion. He won the WBA interim title by beating legend James Toney in 2011 and then proceeded to defend the title two more times before having a showdown with Guillermo Jones. With a record of 25-1, Lebedev had the confidence and experience to beat Jones in 2013.
Jones was the other WBA Cruiserweight Champion and this fight marked the first time that two title-holders of the same World Title belt would be paired in the ring. At the time, Jones was on a tear with a record of 38-3-2. When the match was all said and done, Lebedev looked like a display of burger patties. Jones would knock out Lebedev in the 11th round, but not before smashing his face into ground beef.
1 Denis Lebedev - After
The fight was not without controversy, as Jones tested positive for drugs, leading to Lebedev being reinstated as champion. A rematch was in the works, however, when Guillermo Jones came back from his suspension, he was once again tested positive for drugs. Jones was then stripped of the belt, but allegations claim there was tampering with his test. After being off the shelf for more than two years, Jones defeated Daniel Cota in 2015.
Lebedev hasn’t lost since he was crushed to pieces by Jones in 2013. He has defended his WBA cruiserweight title four times while also winning the IBF Cruiserweight Title against Victor Emilio Ramirez this year. Many men would break from such an embarrassing loss, but the Russian has proved otherwise and we hope to see a rematch between Lebedev and Jones sooner than later.