Why Do Professional Fighters Put Vaseline On Their Face?


During an MMA fight, getting punched in the face is inevitable. There are a few methods that MMA fighters use that will decrease the chance of them having to forfeit due to severe cuts or lacerations. 

Getting hit by the opponent with a leather MMA or boxing glove against the face can cause crucial lacerations that could lead to forfeiting a match. To prevent this from happening, fighters apply vaseline on their face. The jelly-like substance will decrease the friction between the face and the glove. 

All professional fighters wear vaseline on their faces during a fight. This article will give you a better understanding of the importance of vaseline for professional fighters.

The Reason Why Fighters put Vaseline on Their Face


When fighting, it is obvious that the athletes will get hurt. A scratch on the face doesn’t sound detrimental. The opposite is true. A severe cut can quickly end a match. Vaseline gets applied to lower the chance of a fight-ending prior due to a fighter having severe laceration. The vaseline gets applied to the fighter’s face before and during a fight. Vaseline has a few benefits these are: 

1. The vaseline protects the fighter’s face from the leather gloves of their opponent. Leather is a hard material that can easily cut the tender skin in the facial area. Vaseline being a jelly substance, will help decrease the friction between the fighter’s face and the leather glove. Having less friction automatically means less chance of skin tearing.

2. Vaseline is a lubricant that will help the skin become more elastic and allowing it to stretch more. When the skin is stretchier and elastic, it will be less likely for the skin to tear when receiving a hard punch from the opponent. 

3. During an MMA fight, it is inevitable that fighters will get wounded and get hurt. Vaseline is applied to the open wounds to help stop the bleeding. When a cut is too severe, applying just vaseline won’t be enough. Therefore it is often used in combination with a coagulant.

4. Ending a fight early due to severe cuts is not very popular amongst MMA organizations and spectators. Fights ending quickly due to forfeiting gets seen as an anticlimax. Therefore the rule of vaseline being put on the face of the athlete is allowed.

Vaseline will not help to decrease the amount of pain. In the end, the main reason that vaseline is applied to a fighter’s face is to work as protection and for fights to not end early on due to severe laceration. 

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How Much Vaseline Do fighters Put on Their Face?

There aren’t any specific rules regarding how much vaseline is allowed by a fighter during a fight. The referee, however, can determine how much vaseline can be applied to the fighter’s face.

Often Vaseline gets applied to the most crucial areas like the nose, cheekbones, jawbone, ears, etc. It is best not to apply too much vaseline to the face. Otherwise, there is a chance that fighters get the vaseline in their eyes, and as you can imagine, a fighter does not desire this. 

Who is a Cutman in a MMA/Boxing Fight?

The fighters don’t apply the vaseline on their face themselves. There is a person who does this for them, also known as a Cutman. The Cutman is on the side of the ring in case the athletes get hurt. The Cutman will prevent or treat cuts, bleeds, wounds, swellings, and lacerations.

The Cutman treats the fighter in the corner during the one-minute break between fights. Only having one minute to treat someone asks for expertise, speed, and professionalism. The job that the Cutman does during a fight can make the difference for a fighter to win or lose a match by lessening the impact of facial wounds during the fight.

The Cutman may only apply vaseline to the face of a fighter during a match. Using vaseline on other parts of the body (also known as greasing) is not allowed. Vaseline is slippery, causing less impact when getting hit and making it harder to complete a submission.

Can you put any Medication on Fighters Face During a Fight?

A fighter’s health is essential, not just outside of the MMA cage but also during a fight. Therefore a Cutman may use other products and medication on the fighter’s face besides vaseline to help the fighter. These additional products are:

Water: Water is given by a Cutman either to drink or to cool the fighter off, throwing damp clothes or towels over their shoulders and legs. 

Ice: The Ice is often put inside a plastic bag and used to help against swelling. 

A metal plate or Enswell: An Enswell is a small metal that lies in Ice. The metal gets put against parts of the body where their opponent’s hit caused swelling.

Enswell

Adrenaline Chloride: Adrenaline Chloride constricts the vessel and is used to close wounds during a fight quickly.

Coagulant and Cotton Swabs: The cotton swabs are used to apply the Adrenaline Chloride and Coagulant to close wounds quickly and to stop the bleeding as best they can. 

How are Cuts Treated During the Fight?

When a fighter gets severe cuts, the Cutman will, first of all, apply pressure to the wound, trying to close it off as quickly as possible. During a match, the Cutman is allowed to treat a wound with Adrenaline Chloride which is usually a 1:1000 solution to reduce bleeding quickly. Only the topical use of Adrenaline Chloride is allowed in the fight.

Vaseline is often applied around a cut and not directly in the cut. A coagulant will be applied inside the cut to try and stop the cut from bleeding as soon as possible.       

How is Swelling Treated During the Fight?

When a fighter gets a hit, there is a big chance of that area swelling up. Swelling is caused by fluids and blood that go to the damaged tissue. Putting ice on the swollen area will help constrict the vessels making it harder for fluids and blood to reach the damaged tissue. In other words, this means this will prevent the swelling from getting more significant. The ice will also help numb the pain making it easier for a fighter to continue the match. 

To prevent swelling and pain, it is best to put the ice directly on the area where the fighter got hit. In MMA fighting, the Cutman will apply ice using an enswell during the one-minute breaks. Often a Cutman uses a small metal plate kept in ice to press directly on the bruise. After a match is over, the fighter will continue putting ice on the swollen areas to stimulate the healing process. 

Conclusion

Fighters have vaseline on their face during a fight to work as a buffer and to protect the skin. A Cutman will apply a bit of vaseline before the fight and during the one-minute breaks. Apart from vaseline, there are also a few other tools that may be used to help a fighter with bruises, swellings, and wounds. After reading this article, you will better understand the importance of vaseline for a professional fighter and why it is used during boxing and MMA matches. 

Jeff J.

Jeff J is a retired Gunnery Sgt. with the United States Marine Corps and a former Federal Police officer. He was involved with extensive training with weapons systems, and hand to hand combat, mentored and trained hundreds of Marines in high-level fitness programs.

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