Snap, Crackle, Pop: 10 Gnarly Injuries

More Breaks

By Jake Rossen and Dave Mandel Jan 12, 2009
5. Frank Shamrock vs. Igor Zinoviev (UFC 16, March 13, 1998)
Breaking Point: Collarbone
X-Ray: Shamrock shows up on this list quite a bit. Ounce for ounce of calcium, he may be responsible for more trauma (delivering and sustaining) than most combat athletes.

In his attempt to unify the UFC and Extreme Fighting middleweight titles, Shamrock scooped up rival Zinoviev, adjusted his body for maximum damage velocity, then drilled him into the canvas like a fence post.

Collarbone turned to powder, Zinoviev never fought again. Shamrock alternated celebration with concern for his seemingly comatose foe. Always awkward.

4. Shinya Aoki vs. Keith Wisniewski (Shooto, Jan. 29, 2005)
Breaking Point: Broken elbow
X-Ray: “Tenacious” is the best way to describe Aoki’s submission game: Clinched with Wisniewski for much of the first round, the current Dream attraction dug into an arm lock and refused to let go even as Wisniewski tried to scramble away. Turn the volume up and you can actually hear the elbow give out as they tumble to the mat.

3. Forrest Griffin vs. Edson Paredao (Heat FC 2, Dec. 18, 2003)
Breaking Point: Broken arm
X-Ray: Who needs Vicodin when you have adrenaline? Future UFC attraction Griffin blocked strikes from Brazilian Paredao and then noticed something odd when he went to counter-attack: His left arm wasn’t working.

Sensing the impending difficulty in being a one-armed cage fighter, Griffin used his right hand to knock Paredao out. Clint Eastwood would be proud.

Jeff Sherwood/

Frank Mir snaps Tim Sylvia’s arm.
2. Tim Sylvia vs. Frank Mir (UFC 48, June 19, 2004)
Breaking Point: Right radius bone
X-Ray: The most sensationally repulsive of all entries, Sylvia’s willingness to follow jiu-jitsu’s Mike Tyson in Mir to the ground stands as one of the more ill-advised decisions in sports history.

Mir, who was probably astonished to find one of Sylvia’s flag pole-sized arms in his guard, wasted no time in bracing the forearm and snapping it like it a wishbone. Event cameras caught every gruesome detail; despite video evidence, Sylvia wanted to keep fighting. Wouldn’t anybody?

1. Cal Worsham vs. Zane Frazier (UFC 9, May 17, 1996)
Breaking Point: Broken torso
X-Ray: Mired in political smothering, UFC 9 was allowed to go forward in Detroit only when organizers agreed no closed-fist strikes to the head would be allowed. (A modest fine was the only punishment.)

A punch to the face was the least of Worsham’s concerns: Charging toward Frazier, Worsham ate a knee to the chest that broke ribs, damaged his heart and collapsed his lung. Worsham spent a week in the hospital and was told his chances of surviving were questionable. Thirteen years later, it remains the most life-threatening injury ever sustained in the Octagon.

Had Worsham not gotten competent medical help, it’s probable this sport, this site and this space would be vaporware -- a fatality at that stage more than enough ammunition for John McCain and cohorts to drill MMA with until it flat-lined.

None of this, incidentally, derailed Worsham from winning the fight. He waited until he was backstage to collapse.

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