Combat “blood sports” are widely known historically for brutality and reports of traumatic brain injury incidences. For example, featherweight Davey Moore (vs. Sugar Ramos, March 21, 1963) become a ring fatality, inspiring Bob Dylan to write a negative song and causing Pope John XXIII to decry boxing as a “barbaric” sport after the tragic passing. With the rise of the UFC, even Senators like the late John McCain said this brutality was worse than boxing in so far as brain injuries and potential for wrongful death after being taken to the ground.
Short UFC History
The government had UFC up against the ropes until Dana White gave them a right hook, pointing out changes had been made, making MMA arguably safer than boxing. In short, getting knocked out or dying is a voluntary risk inherent in any sport, and elite athletes and the public should be able to choose.
CTE and Repeated Blows to the Head
The public sided with UFC. However, with repeated blows to the head, it is known that combat athletes can become more aggressive and even suicidal. This could potentially place others at risk who are not involved in a UFC fight at all.
For example, the greater risk of brain injuries from CTE in sports, especially soccer and pro football, is real (Seau suicide). And anyone who has seen Nate Diaz in his video interviews with Jake Paul recently can tell he is very “punchy” and appears to forget things sometimes. Helping in his defense, he does smoke a lot of marijuana, which is also known to affect memories. But a couple of blows to the head surely have altered his overall motor skills to be sure.
Purpose of this “Worst of” Article?
At Ehline Law, we delve into serious legal matters through real-life cases, raising awareness. As a Marine, lawyer, BJJ/Judo martial artist, and MMA fan, fighters have a special place in my heart. Hence, I wanted to look at some fighters on my list and explore some MMA lifestyles generally to showcase some accidents and events that set them apart from the norm. With fighting can come things like steroids, pain meds, and other harder drugs, among other things besides brain injuries. We have seen many fighters like Conor Macregor losing it and harming others. We also see examples of motoring accidents that end their fighter careers years and even months earlier than they should have been tapped out of the fight business.
This article also examines Sheena Brandenburg’s fatal car crash in Michigan, the delayed arrest of the MMA fighter, and even the incarceration of Cain Velasquez, a former MMA fighter, who faced manslaughter charges after crushing the life of a man with his own hands, and abruptly ending his professional fight career. I am also going to discuss some shattered lives related to my listed MMA celebrities who got hurt due to the negligence of others and share some secrets about getting paid the most after such a nasty accident. Hopefully, I made it easy for you and your people to arrive at the important answers immediately. Let’s go.
Here are Some of the Worst Celebrity MMA Accidents and More:
1. Cain Velasquez (2023)
Although technically not an accident, this case highlights the toxic masculinity stereotypes so common in the MMA profession. Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez faces potential consequences as he confronts 10 counts, which could lead to over two decades in jail if convicted. As legal proceedings unfold, his trial, unless a plea agreement intervenes, is projected to commence in 2023. Cain Velasquez’s trial setting on attempted murder charges in Santa Clara County, California, encountered yet another delay. Attorney Renee Hessling, representing Velasquez, requested a postponement, a plea supported by the prosecution. On August 2, the next trial date is now set, marking the third requested delay for a break in proceedings.
At the heart of the matter is a high-speed pursuit spanning 11 miles, involving Velasquez and another individual, Harry Goularte. The latter stands accused of inappropriate conduct with Velasquez’s son at a daycare facility owned by Velasquez’s mother. Allegedly, Velasquez engaged in a foot pursuit while discharging multiple rounds from a .40 caliber handgun during the battle to take down the suspected predator.
2. UFC Fighter Tony Ferguson Arrested for DUI (2023)
UFC fighter Tony Ferguson was stopped by cops on charges of driving under the influence (DUI). A subsequent vehicle rollover involving his Chevy Silverado truck has cast a shadow over his professional career. With potential criminal and civil consequences looming, the ramifications of the incident are significant.
According to records from the Hollywood Police, the arrest transpired at 2 a.m., leading to Ferguson’s subsequent booking at the Hollywood Community Police Station. Details emerged that he was being held under a $30,000 bond in connection with the Los Angeles car accident, a situation that initially came to light through a TMZ spot on a Sunday evening. The occurrence raises concerns about the impact of legal proceedings on Ferguson’s athletic pursuits and underscores the broader issue of responsible behavior within the realm of professional sports losses.
3. Bellator’s Robin Van Roosmalen Car Crash (2021)
On January 13, 2021, Robin Van Roosmalen and his younger sister experienced a car accident in their native Netherlands. Tragically, the collision led to severe consequences. The available information reveals that Robin was admitted to the hospital with multiple injuries. However, his sister succumbed to the injuries she sustained and was pronounced deceased.
4. UFC Frank Camacho Car Accident (2021)
Frank, the”Crank” Camacho, was primed for his comeback to MMA after a year-long hiatus, set to face Matt Frevola at UFC 263. However, on June 8th, 2021, an unexpected car accident derailed his plans, forcing the UFC to stop the fight. Camacho was involved in a severe multi-vehicle collision on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. While traveling from Redondo Beach to San Diego, his ’96 Tacoma pickup truck was struck by another truck, causing a chain reaction crash that included a collision with a Ferrari.
Camacho reported head, neck, and shoulders pain at the accident scene. Rushed to Los Alamitos medical center, he underwent a CT scan and X-rays, revealing neck ligament inflammation. Camacho’s companion, Cuki Alvarez, disclosed on Instagram that he had a herniated disc, as an MRI confirmed injuries to the C7 and T1 vertebrae.
Though not a life-threatening brain injury case like Hughes, these injuries led Camacho to withdraw from his lightweight bout, shifting his focus towards recovery and avoiding potential degenerative disc disease that could endanger his career.
5. John Dodson MMA Car Crash Update (2021)
The news of former UFC Flyweight competitor John Dodson’s harrowing car accident on July 4, 2021, shocked the MMA world. While his family was involved in the tragic incident, Dodson has since been discharged from the hospital, marking a step toward recovery.
Dodson’s XMMA Return Altered: On what was supposed to be a festive Fourth of July, John Dodson’s plans took a somber turn in many ways for him and his loved ones. Amidst his announcement of a comeback to XMMA on July 30, the car accident’s aftermath compelled him to withdraw as a title contender. The injuries sustained in the crash disrupted his anticipated return to the sport.
6. Dusko Todorovic’s Car Accident (2021)
The tale of UFC fighter Dusko Todorovic in 2021 encapsulates a series of challenges, from a disappointing loss in the octagon to a significant car accident. This succinct overview delves into Todorovic’s journey, highlighting his setbacks, emotions, and decisions that shaped his career trajectory. Before the car accident, Todorovic grappled with the aftermath of a defeat against Gregory Rodrigues. He contemplated signing a contract for UFC Vegas 44 while grappling with doubts about his readiness to compete. Despite his reservations, Todorovic pressed forward, driven by determination.
Following the loss, Todorovic encountered another blow as a car accident caused severe injuries to his left leg. Despite the substantial toll on his physical well-being, he chose to keep the extent of his injury concealed. This accident compounded his existing challenges. The injuries from the car accident magnified the emotional impact of his prior loss. Todorovic’s opportunity for redemption was thwarted by his compromised state, with recent wounds and swelling impeding his chances of securing a victory.
7. MMA’s Justin Thornton Crash (2021)
On June 8th, 2021, Frank Camacho endured a severe multi-vehicle collision on Los Angeles’ 405 Freeway. The incident occurred while he was en route from Redondo Beach and involved a five-vehicle pileup on the 405 to San Diego route. As Frank Camacho’s ’96 Tacoma pickup truck navigated the San Diego freeway, an abrupt screech heralded a sudden impact. A truck collided forcefully with Camacho’s vehicle, seemingly out of nowhere. The truck’s subsequent collision with the metal divider propelled it to crash into a nearby Ferrari, setting off a chain reaction of multiple vehicle collisions. Medical tests unveiled inflammation in Camacho’s neck ligaments, raising concerns about the extent of his injuries. Cuki Alvarez, a fellow passenger in the vehicle, took to Instagram to report Camacho’s condition, revealing that he had suffered a herniated disc. An ensuing MRI confirmed the herniation, pinpointing C7 and T1 vertebrae injuries. The potential for repair or repositioning of these injuries remained uncertain.
8. Jessie Henry: MMA Pro and Firefighter Tire Explosion Case (2021)
Tragedy struck the MMA community and firefighting world as Jessie Henry, a dedicated full-time firefighter and MMA fighter, passed away over the weekend. His untimely death was a result of injuries sustained during a devastating on-duty incident.
Jessie Henry served as a firefighter at South Bossier Fire District 2 Station No. 4. On the fateful night of Saturday, December 18. He was engaged in maintenance work on a fire truck tire. In a tragic turn of events, the tire unexpectedly exploded.
Chief Gray Young of South Bossier Fire District 2’s training division described the incident, explaining that the inner rim of the tire dislodged from the wheel, causing a chrome wheel simulator—essentially a chrome hub cap—to strike Henry. The impact was so powerful that he was propelled approximately 20 feet away.
9. MMA Bare Knuckle Sheena Brandenburg’s Motorcycle Crash (2020)
In an unfortunate incident on August 1, 2020, a Grayling resident was riding on a motorcycle. The victim was struck by former BKFC fighter Sheena Brandenburg, who fled the scene, resulting in the victim dying shortly after the accident happened. After seven months, Brandenburg was extradited to Michigan, arraigned, and imprisoned in Crawford County Jail pending trial.
10. Chris Bonilla’s Lawsuit Against CalTrans (2018)
In Los Angeles County, a significant car accident unfolded involving Chris Bonilla, a widely recognized MMA fighter, in 2018. His collision with an unmarked barrier had devastating consequences, which prompted allegations against the California Department of Transportation for inadequate boundary marking.
The incident occurred on the 10 Freeway in West Covina, around 6 AM, where Bonilla pulled over to the side of the road. Unfortunately, the aftermath of the accident was catastrophic. Notably, the former Muay Thai champion’s leg suffered severe damage, prompting concerns about potential amputation in the future.
Photographs of the accident showcased the destruction’s extent, revealing the impact’s severity. Medical professionals worked tirelessly to salvage Bonilla’s leg, although its long-term prognosis remained uncertain. The incident highlights the significant consequences of a situation that, by Bonilla’s account, should not have occurred due to improper road marking.
11. Matt Hughes’ [GOAT] Train Accident (2017)
Former UFC welterweight and former wrestling champion Matt Hughes was involved in a serious accident in 2017 involving his truck and a train. He was more known as a wrestler than a BJJ guy. In 1999, Hughes made his UFC debut in UFC 22, winning a decisive victory by unanimous decision against Valeri Ignatov after three rounds. In any event, he is the GOAT. I personally attended his return to UFC 26 versus Marcelo Aguiar, a BJJ black belt. Hughes dropped powerful elbows on Aguiar, cutting his face open to the point doctors had to stop it four minutes and 34 seconds into the first round due to the damage his stunned opponent had absorbed. That was a win by referee stoppage. At UFC 63, Hughes soundly defeated B.J. Penn, the only fighter who had beaten the champ thus far.
But the final bell for Matt was when he drove his truck over a railroad track and was struck by a train. Hughes suffered significant skull and head trauma and was placed in a medically induced coma for a period in one of the worst MMA celebrity accidents I have seen. He eventually made a remarkable yet incomplete recovery but had to undergo emergency brain surgery at a local hospital for his traumatic brain injury. His brain bleed and nerve damage from the accident profoundly impacted his life after he regained consciousness. Cutt’s journey from injury to recovery serves as a testament to brain injury self-healing and the essential role of medical professionals in facilitating rehabilitation. (Read more here.)
12. Chris Cocores Breaks Back (2017)
In December 2017, MMA champion Chris Cocores endured a harrowing car crash that left him grappling with both physical recovery through intensive rehabilitation and the emotional pain of losing his girlfriend. The accident inflicted severe injuries upon him, resulting in a fractured foot, arm, and broken back. Tragically, the passing of his girlfriend and loyal canine companion added a new layer of challenges for him to overcome. This would be an example of emotional distress that has value when you sue in a car accident. (It can prevent you from working and disable you for life.)
Evidently, Chris was a passenger in the vehicle alongside his girlfriend and cherished dog when the car suddenly veered into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with a Toyota Sienna. The subsequent medical expenses proved to be astronomical, prompting the initiation of a GoFundMe campaign by Ryan Wallace aimed at garnering financial support for Chris’s recovery process, which, as noted, is fragile. This period was marked by heartache for Chris’s family as they navigated the dual demands of aiding his recuperation and shouldering the burdensome medical costs.
13. Jon Jones’ Hit-and-Run Incident (2015)
The hit-and-run incident involving Jon Jones, the prominent UFC light heavyweight champion, in 2015 serves as a significant case study that underscores the legal ramifications and impact on his professional career. He was driving his car when he collided with another vehicle, causing injuries to a pregnant woman who was aboard. Rather than staying at the scene to provide assistance, Jones fled, leaving the scene of the accident. Jones eventually turned himself in to law enforcement to face the charges, which had profound repercussions for Jon Jones’ career in the UFC.
The organization, known for its strict code of conduct, suspended Jones temporarily as a result of his actions. This suspension meant he was stripped of his UFC light heavyweight championship title and sidelined from competing in the octagon. Jones embarked on a journey of redemption and expressed remorse for his actions. He has worked hard to rebuild his image and relationship with the UFC community and purportedly had to pay a large settlement.
14. MMA Fighter Guram Gugenishvili (2014)
In a tragic event, talented MMA fighter Guram Gugenishvili’s life was cut short in November 2014 due to a car accident. At the pinnacle of his career, Gugenishvili had achieved international recognition with an impressive 10-0 win record. Despite battling injuries, he was on the brink of a career resurgence and was set to fight in Japan between late 2014 and early 2015. However, the untimely accident robbed the MMA world of his immense talent, leaving the details of the crash and injuries undisclosed.
15. Jeremy Stephens’ Bus Accident (2012)
In 2012, UFC featherweight Jeremy Stephens was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed into a concrete pole. Stephens suffered minor injuries, but his friend and fellow MMA fighter, Casey Olsen, who was driving the car, tragically passed away.
16. Frank Mir’s Motorcycle Accident (2004)
Introduction: Motorcycle accidents often result in severe injuries due to the lack of protective barriers inherent in other forms of transportation. One notable case is that of Frank Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champion, who suffered a significant motorcycle accident in 2004. This case study explores the medical implications of his injuries, the subsequent treatment, and his remarkable journey toward recovery after this career-ending knockdown outside the ring.
Case Background: In 2004, Frank Mir was at the peak of his MMA career when he experienced a life-altering motorcycle accident. The incident impacted his fighting career and exemplifies the complex medical challenges associated with traumatic injuries from motorcycle accidents.
Injuries Sustained: Frank Mir’s accident resulted in multiple serious injuries. Some of the key injuries he sustained include:
- Fractured Femur: A broken thigh bone that required surgical intervention for stabilization.
- Lacerated Liver: A significant injury to the liver, which can lead to internal bleeding and complications.
- Broken Toes and Foot: Mir also suffered injuries to his toes and foot, contributing to the overall severity of his condition.
Mir underwent surgeries to repair his broken femur, followed by interventions to address his lacerated liver and other fractures by orthopedic surgeons, trauma specialists, and other medical professionals. The road to recovery was arduous for Frank Mir. He faced not only physical challenges but also mental and emotional hurdles. The injuries he sustained significantly impacted his mobility and physical capabilities, necessitating a rigorous rehabilitation process. This process involved physical therapy, pain management, and a gradual reintroduction to training activities. Frank Mir’s case provides insights into the complex medical care required for individuals who sustain severe injuries in motorcycle accidents.
17. “Mask” Lewis Crash (2009)
On March 11, 2009, former cop Charles “Mask” Lewis lost his life in a collision on Jamboree Road. Driving a Ferrari, he collided with a Porsche operated by Jeffery Kirby from Costa Mesa. The impact led the Ferrari to collide with a light pole, resulting in the vehicle being torn in half. Lacy Lynn White, Lewis’ girlfriend, tragically sustained severe injuries as she was ejected from the Ferrari during the collision.
Jeffery Kirby faces a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in relation to the crash. A pretrial conference for Kirby has been scheduled for April 2. This solemn anniversary serves as a reminder of the loss and the legal proceedings that followed this heartbreaking incident.
Other Related Ring-Related MMA Accidents
Dadashev Brain Injury (2019)
Dadashev was hospitalized with a brain bleed after being unable to walk to his dressing room. He sadly died following surgery. A fund was set up for his young son Daniel and his wife Elizaveta, who vowed that her brave husband would give her the “power to live.” 19 Jul 2019 Maxim Dadashev Russia Subriel Matías Puerto Rico The match went to 11 rounds after referee stoppage from Dadashev’s trainer. 28-year-old Dadashev collapsed while being transported to the hospital and underwent emergency brain surgery. He was placed into a coma before dying three days after the fight due to cerebral edema caused by sustained hits to the head.
Michael Bisping’s Eye Injury (2013)
While not a traditional accident, Michael Bisping suffered a devastating eye injury during a fight against Vitor Belfort in 2013. Belfort’s head kick caused a detached retina in Bisping’s eye, leading to long-term vision problems and impacting his fighting career.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (2022)
On November 13, 2022, the MMA community was stunned by the announcement of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson’s passing, apparently from cancer.
Noteworthy Heroic Act?
MMA’s Brendan Schaub Wrong Way Hero Act (2022)
Amidst a flurry of upcoming UFC fights in June and July 2022, it’s a fitting time to recount a story that left California in disbelief. On August 12, 2021, a horrifying incident involving former UFC fighter Brendan Schaub made headlines, showcasing his courage and heroism. The accident transpired at 7 PM on that fateful day, with Brendan Schaub and his spouse, Joanna Zanella, heading to a restaurant in Encino, California. They noticed a child frantically waving from a mangled vehicle as they approached the scene, signaling for help.
Without hesitation, Schaub sprang into action. Despite his wife’s suggestion to leave the situation to authorities, he observed two more children trapped in the wreckage. With unwavering determination, he rushed to the scene, urging his wife to stay in the car for safety. Brendan Schaub, acting as a beacon of hope for the children, swiftly assessed the situation. He encountered three children inside the vehicle while an older child was traumatized and fearful, repeatedly expressing the desire not to die.
Schaub battled against the wreckage, attempting to free the trapped children. His heroic efforts paid off as he managed to rescue each child from the wreckage, shielding them from the harrowing scene of their mother’s tragic fate in the front seat. As Brendan Schaub sheltered the kids from the gruesome sight, he recounted the horrifying scene of the children’s mother, who lost her life in the collision. Amidst the chaos, a Mexican man, victimized by a separate accident, fled the scene.
Despite the danger of a potential gas fire due to spilled gasoline, Schaub ensured the children’s safety until the arrival of emergency services. Explaining his departure from the scene, he cited his concern for his wife’s safety and the volatile conditions at the accident site.
Above, we discussed the most notorious MMA accidents outside the octagon and a few other incidents like a Lamborghini accident in Encino, etc. As you can see, brain injuries outside the ring, especially from car accidents, can take you out of the sport. If you want to learn more about your MMA-related accident or want to discuss your case with a serious injury lawyer at Ehline Law, dial (213) 596-9642 today for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation, and we offer risk-free consultation to find out your rights, duties, and obligations as a personal injury plaintiff! So take the gloves off and let us put your defendant (the insurance company or negligent MMA academy) into a submission today with help from Ehline Law Firm!