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“Top of the Food Chain Series” Volume 3: Best Kicks

Derek Bowe

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The kicking game has evolved exponentially in the sport of mixed martial arts, where having a background in a traditional discipline which employs effective kicks, has become a more than a weapon, but a threat to end the fight from any angle, at any time. From leg kicks, roundhouses, spinning hook kicks, to teeps, the arsenal which present fighters choose to employ in their attack is vast, and has been seen to end fights in the most exciting, and brutal fashion. In addition to the array of kicks which exist, many of the kicks are executed differently by different martial arts backgrounds. The setup, and execution varies between the styles, the fighters which make up this list represent this very example, as they have been compiled with consideration being given to their creative and effective nature. Without further delay, the list of the best fighters to use the kicking attack in mixed martial arts.

#5 Conor McGregor, Featherweight, UFC
Conor McGregor has been on a meteoric rise to the top of the the featherweight mountain, his ascension in the sport is unparalleled, and coupled with his promotional ability, the man is unbelievably talented. Conor uses a wide, semi-karate style stance and rattles off very creative kicks which are absolutely beautiful to watch. The snap and power is evident, as well as the balance displayed in the finish, which is brilliant. Spinning hook kicks, lead hook kicks, spinning back kicks front side kicks, and a Meia Lua de Compasso (compass half moon) which comes from his practice of Capoeira. The creativity of Conor’s kicks can arguably be placed in the top slot of this list, as the evolution of his ability continues, it will be exciting to see what else is in the Dubliner’s bag of tricks.

#4 Edson Barboza, Lightweight, UFC

Edson Barboza has the best leg kicks in mixed martial arts. The ferocity is evident, as two, to three landing flush requires a switch in stance, additional landing, and loss of planting ability and use of that particular leg all together. Rafaelo Oliveira, Mike Lullo, and Marcello Giudici have felt this pain as they were all stopped by Barboza via leg kicks. Barboza also has a knockout victory over Terry Etim by way of an unbelievable spinning wheel kick, making Etim go stiff. That knockout is considered one of the greatest knockouts in the history of the sport. The kick was meant to continue through the point of contact, as it did, sending the British fighter to the canvas without consciousness. With Barboza’s propensity to attack the legs, opponents need to completely gameplan around this attack, easily landing Barboza on the list as one of the most effective in the game.

#3 Vitor Belfort, Middleweight, UFC

The Phenom, as Belfort is described is just that. The Brazilian star came into the sport at 19 years of age, and was known to have the fastest hands the sport had seen, blitzing opponents, and overwhelming them with a barrage of punches. Enter the new Vitor Belfort in 2013 when he kicked Michael Bisping’s head into the front row of the audience, then blasted Luke Rockhold via spinning back heel kick, and subsequently rattled the old bones of Dan Henderson by vicious head kick. This is a new Vitor, showing the execution of power and technique in the kicking department which places the Brazilian with the elite. Vitor steps into the cage to challenge for the Middleweight strap opposite Chris Weidman at UFC 187. His ability to finish three divisional top contending stalwarts in a row by kicks lands the Phenom at number three on the list.

#2 Lyoto Machida, Middleweight, UFC

The Dragon, Lyoto Machida is the most effective Karateka in mixed martial arts. Machida has exceptional movement and leaps in and out of attacks with fluidity. Machida likely masks his kicks better than any fighter on this list, as his karate background allows him to execute his kicks without setting them up, no pivoting, no giveaway turn of the hips, he simply unleashes the kicks from his stance. Finishes have come from roundhouse head, liver kick, and to one of the greatest ever seen, a jumping front switch kick over Randy Couture, reminiscent to the “Crane Kick” made famous in the Karate Kid movie. Lyoto’s kicks are very hard to defend against, while he sacrifices some power in lack of setup, the speed and unpredictability make them highly effective in finding their target. Machida would likely have landed the top spot if not for the sniper occupying the mantle.

#1 Anthony Pettis, Lightweight, UFC

The man who goes by the name Showtime, made his name for throwing fantastic kicking techniques which have not been seen in the sport. Cartwheel kicks, and the famous “Showtime Kick” which saw the former lightweight champion leap up off of one leg, press against the cage with the other, and spring off of the cage, launching his hind leg in roundhouse fashion at his opponent Benson Henderson. Had the kick resulted in a knockout, instead of simply a knock down, it would have been the greatest finish ever seen. As those kicks are recognized, Pettis has also shown great ability to mask his attempts and they have led to huge success in the form of head kick knockouts, as well as the brutal liver kick finish. Pettis has no qualms or hesitancy in throwing whichever kick his creative mind believes the body can execute, he was a runaway pick for the top spot, as he embodies the creative, as well as the effective aspect of the kicking attack.

Honorable Mentions: Anderson Silva, Daron Cruickshank, Donald Cerrone, Jose Aldo, Stephen Thompson

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Vitor Belfort vs Uriah Hall in the works for January 14th

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Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum UFC

Longtime UFC veteran Vitor Belfort announced on his Instagram that he is set to meet “The Ultimate Fighter 17” runner-up Uriah Hall.

The fight is set to take place on January 14th according to “The Phenom”, no event has been announced for the date yet. The bout marks Belfort’s first fight since beating Nate Marquardt in a controversial unanimous decision, back in June. Belfort had previously announced his retirement fight would come against Marquardt but has since changed his mind.

Belfort has been on an interesting run since his amazing KO filled 2013. He came back in 2015 in a middleweight title fight against then champion Chris Weidman. He would end up losing the fight via TKO after almost knocking out Weidman early on. He went on to knock out Dan Henderson before dropping three fights in a row by TKO, the latest, against Kelvin Gastelum, was changed to a no-contest, after Gastelum failed a drug test for Marijuana.

Uriah Hall looks to make his return to the cage after knocking out Krzysztof Jotko, back in September, in a fight many deemed the “comeback of the year”. Uriah had previously been on a three-fight losing skid, dropping a decision to current interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, and losing his next two via TKO.

The winner of the fight would end up on a two-fight winning streak and could potentially find themselves a few fights away from a title shot. Although no event has been announced for January 14th, it seems the UFC is already looking to get some fights booked. It is still unclear if this fight will serve as the main event.

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Bellator

Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card

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Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.

This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.

Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK

  • Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)
  • Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)
  • Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK

  • 195 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)
  • Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)
  • Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)
  • Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)
  • Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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Fight Announcements

Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg

Harry Davies

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The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.

The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.

Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.

Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.

Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.

Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.

With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
  • Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
  • Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
  • Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
  • Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
  • Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
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