We haven’t seen a kicker the likes of Edson Barboza since the Pedro Rizzo and Mirko days; has the match ending leg kick made a comeback?
There was a time where strikers reigned supreme in the world of MMA. The more diverse your striking arsenal, the better your chances were of winning. Punchers faced early success in the sport due to speed and power coupled with size and accuracy to deliver the KO. The perfect counter for that were the kick boxers who countered the hands by chopping the legs. Fighters were resorting to ‘chopping the tree’ and systematically breaking their opponents down with painful leg-kicks. That was the era of the kicker.
Then in came the grapplers who would wrap the leg at the moment of an imminent kick and take you down. Once you were there, you were suddenly sucked into an abyss of ground and pound and it would soon be over. Strikers had to worry about being wrestled, especially the ones that employed kicks in their usual strategies, because while kicking was the striker’s strategy, getting a hold of that leg and taking them down was the wrestler’s.
Power punches and takedowns were considered the most decisive tools in mixed martial arts. As a result, the use of leg kicks became less and less popular among MMA fighters. The fear of getting taken down and staying there an entire match outweighed the benefit of damaging the legs.
Nowadays fighters have abandoned the leg kick. It is mainly used as a tool for distraction to set up the bigger shots if anything. Never to end, or damage the fighter. The truth about leg kicks are that they can end a fight, really pulverize the soft meat around the thigh areas to take the spring and power out of their opponent’s offence. The leg calf and the back of the knee is also there to put your opponent off balance to land your own counter.
To name a few leg kickers with great technique in the world of MMA, the first person that comes to mind:
Mirko Cro Cop, Pedro Rizzo, Shogun Rua, Anderson Silva, Thiago Alves, Forrest Griffin, Jose Aldo, Antoni Hardonk, Pat Barry. These are amongst the finest examples of strong leg kickers. But there is ONE who recently set a new precedent for strongest leg kicker; his technique is almost perfect.
Edson Barboza is an elite striker with multiple highlight reel knockouts (think poor Terry Etim). His kicking technique is unmatched, not just because of speed and power but because of technique and precision. He also stands to have the most leg kick KOs in the UFC roster. His kick is a game changer that’ll have you rethinking your strategy – watch the Gilbert Melendez fight.
Here are some of the best MMA fighters known for their legendary leg kicks. They have destroyed countless fighters in their respective careers with leg kicks.
Jose Aldo vs Urijah Faber
Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo remains one of the biggest stars in MMA history known for throwing deadly leg kicks. In his WEC fight with Urijah Faber, Aldo bombarded Faber with vicious leg kicks that had Faber literally fighting on one leg.
Pat Barry vs Joey Beltran
Legs with size of a tree truck and on top of that a background in kickboxing gave Pat Barry huge advantage over opponents. He was one of the most feared strikers in the heavyweight division, his low kicks in particular were enough to destroy opponents. His fight against Joey Beltran showcased exactly that, his vicious leg kicks. Although he didn’t finish Beltran – he had definitely set his sights on taking the Mexecutioner’s leg home.
Edson Barboza vs Gilbert Melendez
An excellent striker with a CANON for a leg. This fighter has almost zero wind up when he’s unleashing hell on your thighs. Ask Gilbert Melendez. Barboza’s lethal leg kicks took away Melendez’s wrestling game, and most certainly the spring out of his offense. Barboza’s leg kicks are nothing short of perfection. If there’s a leg kicker in the game one ought to fashion himself to, it is this guy.
All in all, leg kicking is a neglected aspect of striking that seems to be making a comeback, and after Edson Barboza’s destruction of Melendez’s leg – many might want to reconsider and put their faith back into the striking game.