Most MMA fans would be lying if they said they weren’t interested in seeing blood spilt inside the Octagon. It’s not so much that the sight of blood is appealing, but once a fighter starts to bleed, they become weaker, more vulnerable, this is when their true test of character becomes evident.
A fighter can demonstrate heart and determination in many ways; knockouts, submissions, comebacks, dominations, valiant performances, defying the odds, but there is something utterly pleasing about a fighter who sheds blood for the entertainment of millions and is still willing to fight hard.
Blood is the vital element of life for a human being, so for these athletes to bleed for their sport, it is as much a dramatic statement as any move that can be performed in the ring. As we all know, blood is what keeps us alive, it distributes oxygen throughout our body and keeps our heart pumping. Yet, when an MMA fighter sheds blood, it gets the viewer’s heart pumping. If a fighter begins to bleed there is an automatic realisation that the fight could be stopped at any point for the fighter’s safety.
So not only is shedding blood in a fight a demonstration of heart and determination but it also shows the other fighters skills to induce this bleeding.
Now indulge in the 5 Bloodiest Fights in UFC History!
5. Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort: UFC 49
The third meeting between “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort and “The Natural” Randy Couture was a highly anticipated matchup. The two first met all the way back in October of 1997, which resulted in a TKO victory for Couture. Several years later, a more experienced Belfort got a shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight title, which was held by Randy Couture at the time. It took just 49 seconds for “The Phenom” to pull off the upset in a highly controversial stoppage, due to a cut. With the MMA community in an uproar, their third encounter was booked immediately, one which would close out an epic triliogy between the two legends.
The closing chapter took place on the 21st of August 2004. Many knew what both men’s gameplans were leading up to the fight. Vitor had to stuff Couture’s takedowns, stay at a distance and outstrike the wrestler in Couture, whereas Couture’s gameplan was to use his Greco-Roman wrestling background, force Vitor against the fence, utilizing his dirty boxing, and eventually take Vitor down and grind out a victory. Couture was able to stick to his gameplan throughout the course of the fight, sticking to Belfort like glue. Twenty seconds into round one it and was clear that Couture was physically stronger, as he forced Belfort right into the Octagon fence, a manouver which would dictate the rest of the fight.
At the beginning of the second round, Randy landed a nice left hand, followed by an accidental headclash, caused by Couture seeking double underhooks, resulting in instant blood spatter from Belfort. Still Couture controlled Belfort against the cage, throwing short elbows and uppercuts, forcing the cut above Belfort’s right eye to bleed profusely.
Belfort was evidentely affected by the blood loss, not being able to get off any offense and being completely dominated by Couture. Midway through round two, referee “Big” John McCarthy called for a timeout in order to get Belfort’s cut checked by the on stand fight doctor. Whilst the doctor was checking up on Belfort’s cut, the audience was able to see just how much blood he had actually lost as it had all been soaked up in the mat or in Randy Couture’s pants.
After the doctor gave the all clear to continue the fight, Couture went back on the attack with a complete smothering from top position; clearly not helping Belfort’s cut. Once again throughout the third round, Randy controlled Belfort on the ground, but this is when Belfort proceeded to bleed profusely.
“I literally just looked down at my notes and I have blood on my notes from Vitor Belfort” stated UFC commentator Mike Goldberg, exemplifying how this fight had caused blood trailing through the Octagon. At the end of the third round, the fight was stopped as a result of Vitor Belfort’s cut bleeding too badly, which was not showing any signs of stopping.
The most iconic image of this fight was merely the state of Couture’s pants by the end of the bout, considering how upon commencement of the fight, they were completely white, yet by the time the match had finished, they were entirely red.
4. Sean Sherk vs Kenny Florian: UFC 64
At UFC 64 in Las Vegas, either Kenny Florian or Sean Sherk was set to become the first UFC Lightweight Champion since the belt was vacated in 2002 by Jens Pulver. Sherk had been a dominant force in the UFC’s Weltwerweight division for several years, with a tireless work ethic and a ridiculously huge upper body which was used to force men onto their backs, a position Sherk idealized and favoured. He eventually decided to cut down to 155 pounds, as he was constantly undersized at Welterweight, standing at only 5’6ft. On the other hand, Kenny Florian was also on an impressive run, winning three fights in a row. After dropping to Diego Sanchez at The Ultimate Fighter Season One Finale, he began to show signs of becoming a legit title contender, finishing all three of those opponents.
Sherk has the better wrestling pedigree, yet Florian was known for having very good Jiu-Jitsu and would actively attack from his back. This contrasting style made for an intriguing prospect in a fight and in 2006 when it eventually took place, both men were at different stages in their respective fighting careers. Sherk was the always determined veteran, seeking one last title run, whereas Kenny Florian was the young up and coming wiz kid, carving up his competition. Oh, how times have changed.
In the first round, Sherk controlled Florian on the mat for the majority of the round, showing superior base and wrestling skill. In the second round, Sherk once again took Florian to the mat and controlled him. However, midway through the round, Florian landed two huge elbows to the tip of Sherk’s forehead, forcing blood to instantly drip from his cranium all over Kenny on bottom, who was still being controlled by Sherk.
Known for his lethal elbow strikes whilst on the ground, Kenny landed those two glancing elbows perfectly on the distracted Sherk. From then on, the fight still played out relatively similar to how it had been before, but now there was blood. Lots of it. Even By the third round it appeared as though someone had actually squirted Tomato sauce all over the Octagon mat, due to Sherks head bleeding like a rushing faucet.
After each round passed, it looked as if it were Florian who was bleeding, due to Sherk’s constant positioning on top, which caused the blood to drip from his forehead to Florian underneath him. This fight was especially brutal because it was a 5 round title fight, resulting in Sherk bleeding constantly for over four and a half rounds. Eventually, a bloodied Sean Sherk went on to win by a unanimous decision, in turn becoming the new UFC Lightweight Champion.
3. Joe Stevenson vs Yves Edwards: UFC 61
When “The Master of Thugjitsu” Yves Edwards fought Joe “Daddy” Stevenson at UFC 61, both men were coming off tough, hard fought losses inside the Octagon, though both with immense potential between them, they were still expected to shine. So once Joe “Daddy” dropped from 170 to 155, the matchup was merely elemental.
The first round was a back and forth battle, one which saw Edwards rock Joe “Daddy” with a head kick plus a flurry of punches. Despite this, Joe came back and was able to get Edwards down and began reigning down vicious elbows. Overall, the round was extremely close, with Edwards getting the better of Joe on foot and Joe controlling Edwards on the ground. It was extremely difficult to establish who had won the round on the scorecards; but scorecards would not be needed in this fight.
The deadly elbows utilised by Joe in the first round were once again part of his gameplan in round two. Joe “Daddy” secured a single leg takedown and wound up inside Edwards guard.
Although Edwards was able to attack off his back with attempted submissions, Joe “Daddy” landed more slicing elbows, immediately busting Edwards wide open. From then on, Edwards resembled a victim from a horror film with blood pouring out of his head over his body, drenching the Octagon mat.
Joe instantly recognised Edwards’ gushing cut and began to up his attack and set a more furious pace, so that referee “Big” John McCarthy could not halt the action to check the cut. Much like a shark, Joe had smelt blood in the water and was moving in for the kill. Eventually, the fight was stopped so that the cut could be examined, at which point the doctor deemed the cut to be in a safe spot so as to not drip into Edwards’ own eyes. The restart, however, did not prove to be much of a catalyst overall, as the fight only lasted another minute and thirty seconds till the end of the second round. It was clear Edwards’ vision was too directly affected by the blood flowing from his forehead directly into his eyes and as a result the fight doctor and referee called a stop to the fight.
Rarely does one see so much blood spilt in such a small period of time. A mere two minutes and fourty-six seconds was the cumulative time between the intial cut and the end of the fight, all it took for Joe “Daddy” Stevenson to be declared the victor.
2. Gideon Ray vs Edwin Dewees: The Ultimate Fighter Season 4
All fights included in this countdown took place at live UFC events, either a Pay per View or a Fight Night. All, that is, except this one. Gideon Ray vs Edwin Dewees was the first Middleweight quarter-final fight in season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter. Both men had fought in the UFC previously; Gideon had fought against David Loiseau and Mike Swick and Edwin had fought Rich Franklin and Chris Leben, respectively. Although neither man had won either of their first two bouts inside the Octagon, they were both given a chance at redemption and a Middleweight title shot, if they were to win season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter. As well their previous opponents (Loiseau, Swick, Franklin and Leben) were serious tasks and are four of the toughest men to step inside of the Octagon.
Gideon Ray was apart of team “No Love”, which consisted of notable fighters like; Travis Lutter, Jorge Rivera, Rich Clementi and Pete Spratt. On the other hand, Edwin Dewees was part of team “Mojo”, comprising of several prominent competitors like; Matt Serra, Chris Lytle, Patrick Cote, Shonie Carter and Scott Smith. Being on opposing teams forced the two to draw each other in the first round of the tournament based reality show.
In the first round, Edwin was able to control Gideon after securing a takedown. Edwin took his time, gaining superior position transitioning from full guard to side control with relative ease. For what became a majority of the round, Edwin attempted multiple submissions, including an arm triangle, which never came to fruition however. At the end of the round, Gideon reversed and swept Edwin, to wind up in Edwin’s open guard.
Round two opened up with a visibly confident Dewees throwing head kicks and hard punches without ever flinching. The retreating Gideon was then taken down by Dewees after a failed spinning back-fist attempt. This is when a very short left elbow landed from Gideon, who was on his back, to the forehead of Dewees. Boy, was there blood!The second Gideon landed the tight elbow, it seemed as though someone had opened a tap at the tip of Dewees’s head, as blood began to spurt out. Instantly, referee Herb Dean stopped the fight to get the cut checked. Perhaps the funniest part of the fight is what Matt Serra screamed to Edwin Dewees once Herb Dean decided to get the cut checked; “It’s not a bad cut!”
At one point in the second round, Dewees was bleeding so much it seemed as if the blood trail from his forehead had spread all over the octagon, leaving a bloody mess wherever the fight went. Ending the second round, the judges had declared the fight a draw, sending it into a third and final “Sudden Victory” round. Both men were physically drained, but still determined to finish the fight. Somehow the bleeding became even more profuse and was somehow worse throughout the entire thrid round, prompting Herb Dean to stop the fight to get the cut checked numerous times. Edwin’s bleach-blonde hair was now completely red all over, as well as his face and upper body. Because Edwin was on top for the majority of the fight, the real danger was to Gideon Ray, as the blood may have been dripping into his eyes, which, needless to say, is extremely dangerous, not only does it prevent sufficient vision, but it could also have long lasting effects. The third and final round ended with Edwin dominating from top position, still gushing and surging blood. Bloodied and battered, the winner by unanimous decesion, was Edwin Dewees.
“I’ve seen it so many times where a guy gets cut and he can’t handle seeing that he’s bleeding. Let me tell you what, that kid was so composed, he really pulled the fight out”- Dana White
1. BJ Penn vs Joe Stevenson: UFC 80
This 2008 fight between future UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn and Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, was without a doubt one of the most brutal displays of Mixed Martial Arts ever. BJ was looking to become only the second man to hold two titles in two different weight divisions (first being Randy Couture) and capture the UFC Lightweight title. Needless to say, Joe “Daddy” had other plans in mind, intending and hoping to pull off what would be one of the greatest upsets of all time.
Joe “Daddy” had an impressive streak going into this title fight, being undefeated since dropping to 155 defeating big names like; Yves Edwards, Kurt Pellegrino and Melvin Guillard. BJ had only one loss as a Lightweight since 2001 (to Jens Pulver) and was making his return to the division after dropping two consecutive high profile fights at Welterweight to Georges St Pierre and Matt Hughes for the UFC Welterweight Championship. Despite BJ’s recent setbacks, he was still as determined as ever, as he finally got another shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship which as of yet, had eluded him. “That was an important fight for me, I was like, this is it man I got to do it. Third times the charm, or three strikes you’re out. I got to get the Lightweight belt” declared an extremely motivated BJ Penn.
Five seconds into the opening round, BJ dropped Joe “Daddy” with a big right hand, nearly finishing the fight right then and there. Joe, however, showed great resilience and was able to recover, though at which stage he found himself defending a constant and rapid attack from BJ, who was throwing elbows from inside Joe’s guard. With 37 seconds left in the first round, BJ landed a gigantic right elbow which caused an instant, deep incision. Joe Rogan declared it to be “one of the quickest bleeding cuts I have ever seen”. Joe “Daddy” was cut wide open and the blood showed no indication of slowing down any time soon.
Second round began with Stevenson coming out strong, trying to stand and bang with BJ. Throughout the fight, there was a sense of Penn being just too much for a resilient Joe “Daddy”. Once BJ dropped Joe at the midway point of the second round, it became clear that it was only at matter of time. A turtled-up Joe “Daddy” still could not prevent the gallons of blood spilling from his cut and, inevitably, Penn locked up a tight rear nake choke, forcing Stevenson to tap at 4:02 of the second round in one of the most violent dismantlings in UFC history.
One great aspect of this fight is how the abundance of blood paved the way for some of the UFC’s most iconic imagery, perhaps most famously the photo of the fight winning rear naked choke, including the jet of blood that can be seen shooting out of Joe’s head whilst Penn tightened up the choke. For its sheer brutality, this fight is a must-see for all those amongst the bloodthirsty fans of MMA, or even sport in general.
By Liam O’Farrell