How Many UFC Fighters Have Died in the Ring?

The UFC is a brutal sport where arms and legs can break at any time during a fight. That said, the MMA is very different from other combat sports, and those different rules might even save lives. As a result, unlike boxing, no UFC fighters have died in the ring yet.

How does the UFC prevent deaths in the ring?

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Boxing, as a sport, only allows punches above the belt, and this leads to fast knockouts, but also, a lot of brain damage. The UFC on the other hand, allows fighters to hit almost anywhere on the opponent’s body, and there are multiple other ways to win, too. For example, while UFC fighters can win by knockout, they can also use their jiu-jitsu skills to submit their opponent.

But, even if they want to go for the knockout, the UFC also has safeguards that boxing doesn’t have. For example, in boxing, when a fighter gets knocked down, the referee almost always gives them a 10-count.

A lot of the time, the fighter will be allowed to continue, while in the UFC, if a fighter gets knocked down, then the other fighter can finish the job and knock their opponent out. This ultimately prevents UFC fighters from taking more damage than they need to take, while boxers can keep fighting and getting hurt.

Thanks to these facts, and more, nobody has died fighting in the UFC just yet. That said, it’s not impossible, and in fact, several MMA fighters in other organizations have passed away shortly after a fight.

The many deaths outside of the UFC

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The UFC is the biggest MMA organization, so it has invested a lot of money into making sure that nobody dies fighting in the ring. But other organizations don’t invest as much into that.

As a result, Grunge reported that many people have died after fighting in a MMA bout. Many of these fights were amateur fights, but others were professional fights. 

Some of these fights were sanctioned by an athletics commission, while others weren’t. For example, one of the most recent deaths was João Carvalho, who died shortly after fighting Charlie Ward in Ireland. Ward is friends with Conor McGregor, and this death was a tragedy that had big effects in Irish MMA. 

Another notable death was that of Rondel Clark, a healthy 26-year-old who died after a knockout loss. Grunge said that, at first, it wasn’t clear why or how he died, but later, it was revealed that his weight cut played a role in his death. Weight cuts are common in both MMA and in boxing, but MMA takes weight cutting to an extreme. 

Will a fighter die in the UFC’s octagon?

Weight cuts are common in the UFC, and almost every fighter cuts weight to meet the weight limits. Unlike boxing, where there are tons of weight classes available, the UFC only has eight weight classes for men and four weight classes for women. This ultimately means that for many UFC fighters, they will have to cut a lot of weight to make the limit. 

Some of the toughest UFC fighters, such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, have failed to make weight in the past due to a tough weight cut. In other organizations, such as in ONE FC, a fighter has actually died during a weight cut, and that’s why ONE FC has since changed its weight cutting rules.

No UFC fighter has died during a weight cut, but many fights have been canceled due to a poor weight cut. If the UFC allows someone to fight after a poor weight cut, then what happened to Clark may also happen to a UFC fighter. So, it’s entirely possible that someone will eventually die in the UFC’s octagon, one way or another.