Tuesday, 17 January 2012

5 most momentous kicks in MMA history

Kicks, a stable of traditional Martial arts, are often underutilised in MMA. However, when used properly, they are one of the most destructive weapons in a fighters arsenal. Some fighters have made a name for themselves on their kicking ability alone, enter Mirko Cro-cop, Cung Le and even featherweight champion Jose Aldo, whose leg kicks are beautifully brutal. 

MMA however is always evolving, and a new era has begun in which Martial Artists are bringing more traditional kicks into the cage, with malicious intent. Here is my list of some of the most amazing and vicious kicks in MMA history and the significance behind them :

5. Anderson Silva vs Yushin Okami
Though technically illegal, Anderson Silva’s up kick against Yushin Okami at Rumble on the Rock 8 was one of the most incredible moments in MMA history. It highlighted Silva as a freakish Athlete who could achieve what was previously believed impossible and was ironically, as he was disqualified, the beginning of an amazing 15 fight winning streak which would see Silva perched firmly atop most top pound for pound fighter lists. Silva’s ability to not only get his leg back to the necessary position, but then strike with the necessary force and accuracy, all while under constant threat of ground and pound from Yushin “Thunder” Okami, is truly unbelievable. This once in a lifetime strike is in many ways a synecdochic representation  for the truly unique martial artist that Anderson Silva is.

4. Anthony Pettis vs Benson Henderson
Anthony Pettis’ matrix-like kick against Benson Henderson at WEC 53 was spectacular on so many levels. It was a kick that to my knowledge has never been attempted before, let alone executed successfully. It was performed in the 5th round, when even the fittest fighters are fatigued and to top it off, it was a very close lightweight title fight. The sole reason that this impossibly crazy kick is not higher up on this list is that it simply didn’t finish Henderson, who managed to recover and fight up until the final bell. What the kicked lacked in effectiveness, it certainly made up in style, and was not only a fitting cherry on top of WEC’s final event, but a promise of the potential that the future held with the upcoming merger with the UFC.

3. Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort
Unsurprisingly, Anderson Silva once more enters this list, this time for his brutal front kick knockout of Brazilian Vitor Belfort in their Middleweight title clash at UFC 126. The traditional front kick, one of the oldest in the book, had never been favoured in the UFC and certainly never been executed as clinically, until Silva unleashed it on Belfort with lightning speed, pinpoint accuracy and catastrophic effect. Belfort was out before he hit the mat, proving just how devastating a front kick can be and etching Anderson Silva deeper into our minds as the one of the greatest fighters of all time.

2. Edson Barboza vs Terry Etim
The UFC’s second stint in Brazil would prove to be a most memorable event with amazing fights and an atmosphere second to none. One moment will be remembered above the rest – Edson Barboza’s knockout of Terry Etim. Barboza, a standout Brazilian Muay Thai practitioner whipped the Rio De Janeiro crowd into a frenzy with his perfectly executed spinning heel kick which landed cleanly on Etim’s chin, sending him rigid towards the canvas. Barboza can lay claim to the first spinning heel kick knockout in mainstream MMA history. It seemed somewhat fitting that such a spectacular moment performed by a local fighter would highlight the UFC’s return to the country of its origin.

1. Lyoto Machida vs Randy Couture
Lyoto Machida’s crane kick knockout of Randy Couture is in my opinion the greatest kick in MMA history. Popularised by Daniel LaRusso and Mr Miyagi in the eighties classic ‘Karate Kid’, the crane kick was practised by a generation of kids, who almost 30 years on had written the move off as a movie stunt which was completely impractical and unrealistic. Karateka Lyoto Machida, however, had different views, and a minute into the second round of their UFC 129 bout, the dragon unleashed a modern day rendition of LaRusso’s famous kick in front of a full house, on the biggest MMA stage of them all. The kick, delivered to the chin of UFC hall of famer Randy Couture with sadistic elegance, not only ended the MMA legend’s night, but doubled as the perfect swan song for his career. Couture would officially retire from the Octagon in his post fight interview. Lyoto Machida, the karate kid, had in a single graceful blow brought an eighties pop culture to life and ended one of the great MMA careers.


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