Although quite brutal and complex, MMA is a sport that requires a surprisingly small amount of equipment. You basically need a pair of shorts, a mouthguard and a pair of gloves and you’re good to go. Compared to some martial arts, the equipment in MMA is practically insignificant. But, although not obliged to, MMA fighters can have some extra equipment for protection. One of the pieces of said equipment are ear guards, which can be quite useful in MMA, although they aren’t all that common.
Using ear guards in MMA is not obligated, but if a fighter wants to protect his ears, having ear guards is one of the ways to do so.
In today’s article, we’re going to talk about the practicalities of ear guards and, also, the advantages of this quite helpful, but neglected piece of equipment.
What Are Ear Guards?
Ear guards are a very interesting piece of headgear that is specifically designed to protect a fighter’s ears from damage. Since MMA fighters tend to score a lot of shots to the head, the ears are especially vulnerable. Whether it’s a kick or a punch, the ears are a soft spot on the head and a good shot aimed at them can do a lot of damage to your opponent, most of which is not in accordance with the spirit of combat sports. So – ear guards were created.
Ear guards aren’t like regular helmets and or headgear, as they are specifically designed to protect the ears. You can see some types of ear guards in the photos below:
So, as you can see, ear guards can vary in design, but what each of them does is that it protects the ears from damage. Most of them offer at least some form of additional protection for the head, but the focus is definitely on the ears.
Should MMA Fighters Wear Ear Guards?
As we’ve already said, ear guards are not the most popular accessory in MMA, although it’s not that you’ll never see a fighter wear them. It’s just extremely rare. So, should MMA fighters wear them? Well, since they’re not obliged, they obviously don’t have to, but if they want to protect their ears, they definitely should.
But the fact is – not many people are concerned with such matters in the MMA. Due to the brutality of MMA, people don’t usually watch out for ear deformations and although they’re mostly beneficial, ear guards have their disadvantages.
The first one is related to the discomfort they might cause. Although the padded guards aren’t heavy and don’t influence the fight, they can be somewhat of a nuisance for the fighters. Likewise, many ear guards are designed in such a way that they (unintentionally, though) take away or reduce a fighter’s lateral vision, and we all know how important vision is for MMA fights. This is why wearing ear guards is discouraged in the MMA.
Beginners are usually allowed to do it, but as they advance, even in gyms, they are encouraged to fight without them. The safety of one’s ears can be ensured with a variety of defensive techniques, so the ear guards are really not that necessary. But if you ever feel the need to wear them or want to avoid what we are going to talk about next – don’t hesitate to use them, either in the gym, or during fights.
Do Ear Guards Prevent Cauliflower Ear?
One of the most notorious consequences of getting your ears hit in combat sports – and the main reason ear guards are encouraged – is the so-called cauliflower ear (yes, after the vegetable!). The cauliflower ear is an irreversible condition that permanently damages and deforms a fighter’s ear(s).
The ears are a very sensitive part of the human body. If they are hit, they get swollen and fluid collects within them, causing them to enlarge and become deformed. The swelling causes permanent damage as the physiological and haematological processes within the ear become irreversible by themselves.
The deformities can be divided into two groups – mild to moderate deformities (types 1A do 1C) and substantial deformities (types 2A and 2B). Although the process is irreversible and won’t, naturally, go away by itself, today we have several ways of dealing with the issue.
A quick draining can do wonders to your ears, but if you’re not that lucky and need a surgeon, you have to know that there are several methods of almost fully restoring your “regular” ears.
So that’s it. The cauliflower ear is by no means a dangerous, but it can cause discomfort as it just looks very unattractive. Luckily, such conditions can be prevented with ear guards or with a good defensive technique, but even if you don’t manage to avoid it – a surgeon could help you remedy the problem.
Also, be sure to check out a video from famous MMA coach Firas Zahabi about usage of ear guards and prevention of cauliflower ear:
It’s been short but sweet, we hope. We’ve finished our brief analysis on the usage of ear guards in the MMA, bringing you the practicalities, the reasons and the visual examples. If you liked it, please follow us and we’ll see you soon!