UFC is well-known for its intense physicality and dangerous combat, however, this can often lead to injuries, with leg injuries being particularly prevalent. A broken leg, suffered by multiple fighters in the promotion’s history, has a significant impact on fighters’ careers and long-term health.
The wide array of striking techniques used by fighters is what makes them more prone to leg injuries. Powerful low kicks that are aimed toward the legs can result in severe fractures, not only to the fighter absorbing the hit but also to the fighter initiating it.
In this article, we will see the multiple ways in which a UFC fighter has suffered a leg break.
Viewer discretion advised: Videos in this article contain graphic content of broken bones. It may not be suitable for all audiences. Please exercise caution and discretion while watching.
UFC Fight Night 16 – Fight for the Troops: Corey Hill vs. Dale Hartt
On December 10, 2008, Corey Hill went up against Dale Hartt during UFC Fight Night 16 – Fight for the Troops. The Lightweight battle saw one of the worst injuries in UFC history in its second round.
In the opening moments of the second round, Hill attempted a right-leg kick, but Hartt blocked it. Hill’s leg exhibited an unusual bend which was clearly seen by everyone around, especially Joe Rogan. The UFC commentator, known for his over-animated reactions, was justified for his reaction here.
Conor forgot to mention the OG of horrific leg breaks, Corey Hill 🙏 pic.twitter.com/FqGX063IuC
— Kenny B 📟🏝 (@KennyBalii) November 26, 2022
However, the referee remained unaware of the injury and did not step in to halt the match. Consequently, oblivious to the unfolding situation, Hartt continued his onslaught as Hill toppled to the canvas. The bout was ultimately halted, resulting in a TKO triumph for Hartt.
Rogan revisited this incident during JRE #1695. He said, “Corey Hill was the first one that I ever saw. No one had seen that before. He threw a kick and the opponent checked it, and it snapped his leg in half. The referee didn’t realize it. He went down and the referee hadn’t noticed it, and the other guy was beating him up.
I got up and I was yelling. I took my headphones off and I was yelling, ‘Stop the fight! Stop the fight!” But I don’t know if the ref could even hear me, because it’s a crowded arena and now he’s down and the other fighter is pounding on him.”
Hill made a winning comeback in January 2010 in professional MMA. However, the American has never fought in the UFC again.
UFC 277: Anthony Smith vs Magomed Ankalaev
Anthony Smith was up against Magomed Ankalaev in the main card opener at UFC 277. At the end of Round 1, it seemed that an Ankalaev leg kick caused a break in Smith’s leg. However, Smith later said that the injury happened in the sequence right before.
“I threw this hard overhand and it was just a little short and he came back with a hard leg kick,” Smith told Michael Bisping on the ‘Believe You Me’ podcast. “And my whole leg went numb from the knee down. It was only like 20 seconds, 15 seconds – it came back pretty quick.
But I didn’t really think anything of it – just hit a weird nerve, and your leg goes numb. Shortly after that, we got tangled up. You know how it gets with opposite stances – your feet get tangled up sometimes. And I went to step back with my left foot, and it’s like wasn’t anything there. It was weird.
“Right before he kicked me and my leg went numb, I was stepping on his foot. So we were having that lead foot battle and it happened twice. I stepped on his foot and he pulled it out, and then it drug [dragged] my body forward and my ankle kind of went all funny. And right after that, he banged that inside kick real hard. I know in the media or whatever it’s been reported it was from a kick. It’s 100 percent not, It’s not from a kick. It’s just f*cking sh*t luck.”
Smith also informed Bisping about how the UFC’s chief medical examiner was also perplexed with the injury. He said that it was an ankle break but it was connected to his leg bone.
Smith, however, did not take too long to come back. After getting injured in July 2022, he was back in May 2023 to fight against Johnny Walker.
UFC 168: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
On December 28, 2013, Anderson Silva faced Chris Weidman for the second time in a span of a few months. Silva lost the first bout via a TKO (punches) in Round 2. He was hoping to get his revenge, however, something more unfaithful awaited him.
Weidman’s takeaway from the first bout was that Silva had strong low kicks. The American fighter came prepared to block them and he did so successfully. Weidman showcased his strong defense. However, in the second round of their rematch, the American raised his leg and turned his shin outward. The thicker part of Weidman’s leg came in contact with the thinner, lower part of Silva’s leg.
This resulted in a horrible leg break injury for Silva. A graphic image of Silva’s boneless leg dangling was imprinted in everyone’s minds. Weidman won that match via a TKO. Silva made his comeback in January 2015 in a bout against Nate Diaz. However, after the match, it was found that Silva had tested positive for illegal drugs.
UFC 261: Chris Weidman vs. Uriah Hill
Although Weidman had no intention to do what he did to Silva, the world came full circle for him. In the exact manner that Wiedman unintentionally broke Silva’s leg, the American wrestler got his leg broken by Uriah Hill on UFC 261 on April 24, 2021.
Within just 17 seconds of the match, Weidman’s low kick was blocked by Hill, and that snapped Weidman’s shin in half. It was another gruesome injury that Weidman became an unfortunate part of.
Many fans claimed that Weidman got what he deserved as he celebrated breaking Silva’s leg. However, he took to social media to clarify his stance. He wrote, “Anyone saying I celebrated when Anderson’s leg snapped is entirely wrong. I didn’t know his leg snapped. I just thought I checked his leg kick good, and he went down in pain, which often happens in sparring. Painful for a short time, but gets better quickly – kind of like a body shot.
— Chris Weidman (@chrisweidman) April 27, 2021
“After circling the octagon, I realized that he was in severe pain by his yelling and immediately went and checked on him and tried to console him. That’s when I noticed him holding his leg in place. There was no happiness on my behalf from that point on. I then went and pushed security out of the way so his coaches could get into the octagon and he could have some familiar faces next to him during that horrific event.”
Silva also took to social media to wish for a speedy recovery for Weidman. This was appreciated by the American. It took Weidman over two years to recover completely and come back. He fought Brad Tavares on UFC 292 in August 2023.
UFC 264: Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier
Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier had faced each other twice before fighting again at UFC 264 on July 10, 2021. They had each won one match each. The Irishman swore that his opponent would leave the Octagon in a stretcher after their trilogy bout. However, in a karmic twist, McGregor left the Octagon with a broken leg.
The former double champion’s shin clashed with Poirier’s elbow after which he put his leg down. However, just after moving a bit, his shin snapped in half, and that caused the match to end in a TKO win for Poirier.
In an interview with MMA Hour, McGregor said he thought about the leg break being the end of his career. He said, “At the time, I thought maybe I won’t be able to do this again,” McGregor said. “For sure, that was in my thoughts. Was I thinking of not making the walk — or the roll if I was in a f—ing chair? Never. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. … If you’re willing, you’re able.”
The will for McGregor surely seems to be there. However, he is still waiting on a way. It has been over two years since he broke his leg but he has yet not returned to the Octagon.