Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Beautiful Devastation of Leg Kick$ in MMA!


Jose Aldo's methodical dismantling of Urijah Faber at WEC 48 was the latest example of just how devastatingly effective leg kicks can be.

The theory behind leg kicks is very simple. Pummel your opponent's thigh until they can no longer put weight on that leg. Once a fighter takes too many kicks to their lead leg, they usually switch stances in an attempt to protect it. This causes the fighter to completely change their style and approach to initiating offense, as well as virtually eliminating full use of their power side.

The most obvious reason why leg kicks work so well is that even just a few solidly landed kicks will immediately affect the recipient's mobility. After eating too many low kicks, a fighter can't punch, kick or shoot with nearly the same explosiveness as they could have on two good legs. As damaging as leg kicks have proven to be, its surprising that they are somewhat under used. While low kicks are primarily considered a muay thai technique, they have long been used in karate and other striking arts.


Let's look at some of my favorite fights from the short history of MMA, showing the beauty of properly delivered leg kicks:

•Marco Ruas/Paul Varelins
UFC 7-The Brawl in Buffalo
September 8th, 1995

This was the first MMA fight I saw that proved how devastating low kicks can be. It was Marco Ruas' third fight in the UFC, and actually his third fight of the night. Those were the good old days of same night tournaments. Ruas fully lived up to his nickname, the "King of the Streets". I still remember the short video the UFC showed of Marco throwing punches. His speed and the variation of the angles he threw them at completely blew me away. Ironically, it was his kicks that won him the final fight of the tournament. His last fight was against Paul Varelins, the Polar Bear. Varelins is a huge man, standing 6' 8" and weighing 300 pounds. Paul easily won his 2 prior fights that night and was the fresher fighter having spent only a little over 2 minutes in the cage. Ruas needed 16 minutes of cage time to win his 2 fights, one of which was against the very accomplished judoka, Remco Pardoel. In what was an epic 13 minute battle, Ruas systematically destroyed the Polar Bear's lead left leg, literally chopping down the human tree. It is still one of my all-time favorite moments in MMA.

•Mo Smith/Tank Abbott
UFC 15-Collision Course
October 17th, 1997

In an 8 minute throwdown, Mo Smith broke Tank's spirit with repeated, deep low kicks. The writing was on the wall for Tank. He just ate low kick after low kick, crushing his will in the process and forcing him to quit. The ultra-tough streetfighter wasn't tough enough to withstand the beating Mo put on his leg. Instead of "coming straight from the bar stool to the cage", Tank should have hit the gym and learned how to check kicks.

•Pedro Rizzo/Randy Couture
UFC 31 Locked & Loaded
May 4th, 2001

This classic fight has to be one of Randy Couture's toughest title defenses, and one of the worst physical beatings he's ever taken in the Octagon. In a 25 minute war, Randy earned a unanimous decision victory, one that I completely disagreed with. He was clearly the more beaten fighter. When it was all said and done, Rizzo pounded his leg over the course of the 5 rounds leaving Randy bruised, battered and barely able to walk. I can't recall ever seeing such bad bruising to a fighter's leg. By Randy's own admission, it took him 2 weeks to be able to walk somewhat normally after that fight.

•Mirko Cro Cop/Hidehiko Yoshida
Pride-Critical Countdown
July 1st, 2006

While Mirko is known for his high left kick, a technique he has used for multiple highlight reel knockouts, it was his vicious low kicks that punished the very game Olympic judoka, Hidehiko Yoshida. It was one of those fights that caused me to wince while watching, as if I was actually in the ring taking that beating to the legs. Each consecutive kick looked and sounded worse than the one before it. It was hard to watch. Yoshida was obviously in severe pain. At the 7 and a half minute mark, Hidehiko was a broken man, unable to continue. Ever since that fight, I have always wondered why Mirko hasn't used low kicks more consistently.

•Jose Aldo/Urijah Faber
WEC 48
April 24th, 2010

Jose Aldo completely proved his dominance at 145 pounds with a master performance in his win over Urijah Faber. It was a methodical, strategic destruction of Faber. Although the fight went the full 25 minute distance, there was no question in anyone's mind who won the fight. Aldo rendered Urijah virtually immobile with a barrage of savage low kicks. Faber claims to have trained specifically to defend those kicks, but none of that was evident during the fight. You know things are really bad when one of your cornermen carries you to your stool so you don't have to take the 5 steps to get there yourself. That's BAD! Major props have to be given to Urijah for showing the heart he did in that fight. He was a badly beaten man but never quit.

Honorable mentions go to:

Bas Rutten/Ruben Villareal-WFA: King of the Streets
Pat Barry/Dan Evensen-UFC 92
Brandon Vera/Michael Patt-UFC 96
Mirko Cro Cop/Hong Man Choi-K-1 Dynamite 2008
Forrest Griffen/Rampage Jackson-UFC 86
Pedro Rizzo/Tank Abbott-UFC Ultimate Brazil
Kazushi Sakuraba/Royce Gracie-Pride Grand Prix 2000

Leg kicks, beautiful yet devastating!!!!!!!


  1. Well said.
    I remember watching Marco Ruas destroy Paul Varelins leg.

  2. Don't forget Keith Jardine/Chuck Liddell...