There is a vast array of endless techniques that a combat sports athlete can employ to defeat and subdue their opponent in any given situation presented. This melding of individual combat sports styles allows a combat sports athlete to adapt not only to the situation but their style and opponent as a whole. The first UFC competitions began as battles of different combat sports by pitting these various styles against each other to find the best all around form of combat. This battle of individual facets of combat eventually evolved into the modern dynamic sport of mixed martial arts. Through this hybridization of combat there is the opportunity to neglect certain beneficial techniques and these are the top five most underrated mixed martial arts techniques.
1) Leg Locks- There is a propensity for many beginning submission athletes to neglect the opportunity to utilize leg locks. One of the reasons for this is that basic chokes and upper body submissions are taught first and drilled initially due to the dangers of bodily damage from leg locks. The pain tolerance and observation of pressure is less perceptive on the legs and therefore an overzealous leg lock or miss timed tap out can cause permanent ligament and tendon damage. It is for this reason that leg locks were famously banned from several Ultimate Fighter grappling tryouts. This trend has carried over into mixed martial arts and thus the leg locks are some of the most underutilized attacks. Athletes generally will leave their legs open for sheer defense, position and for strikes. Properly applied leg locks not only protect the attacking athletes legs but allow valuable distance to be placed in the event of an incomplete submission.
A leg lock defined the notable defeats of Brock Lesnar to Frank Mir in UFC 81 and Anderson Silva to Ryo Chonan in Pride Shockwave 2004.
2) The Jab- The versatility of the jab and it’s vitality to basic combat sports has already been discussed here at SwoleScience. Mixed martial arts has had the notorious stigma of having subpar striking when compared to traditional stand up combat. The reason for this is that the multitude of combat opportunities leaves an athlete having to defend and attack on any front, which does not allow traditional standup to apply in it’s pure entirety. The jab in some way or another is a universal strike that exists in almost every form of combat sport. The reason lies behind it’s offensive and defensive application, vital use as a distraction, and ability for speed with simultaneous damage. There is a tendency for athletes to go for strictly power and the subsequent the knockout. This is defined by overuse of the back hand in the form of too many mistimed cross, overhand and hook strikes. This produces slow predictability that can leave the athlete open for dangerous counterstrikes and takedowns when overused, mistimed, telegraphed, and not set up correctly,
The jab was used by Royce Gracie to set up his famous takedowns, and it allowed Buster Douglas to pick apart Mike Tyson.
3) Low Kicks- Low kicks in mixed martial arts tend to be placed in the same category as a jab, which is as a ‘weak distraction’. This cannot be further from the truth and is primarily fueled by their perceived ability to not be the source of a knockout. While an opponent may not go unconscious from a vicious leg strike, it will not only cause massive pain damage but change the pace of the fight, effect their striking power, ability to defend themselves, and produce takedowns. A low kick is directed to the thighs of an athlete and cause trauma to the nerves and muscles in the upper leg. Since all strike, defense and takedowns originate from the legs, this robs power and mobility from the opponent, and thus allows for an expedited breakdown of the opponent on all levels.
4) Elbow Strikes- The elbow strike is an extremely damaging strike that concentrates a tremendous amount of kinetic bodily and muscular energy to a very small area. This transfer translates to a strike that not only has the ability to knock out an opponent but will almost always cut open an opponent’s face. The cut can create a weakness to further exploit, debilitate an opponent’s vision and morale, and potentially end a fight. Elbows combine the twisting motion of the body with a forward motion to close the distance. This allows for a strike from either arm depending on the distance and circumstance. When used in close quarters combat such as the clinch, the rotation of the body can still cause a tremendous amount of damage where many other strikes would be virtually useless.
5) Body Strikes From The Ground- Once a fighter hits the ground they automatically revert to a close ground cinch or mount and try to strike a generally heavy defended face. The problem with this is that the head is small area that is easily guarded on the ground and therefore this generally results in an overzealous expenditure of energy with little in the way of damage. Being on the ground decreases mobility and makes the head easier to guard but allows for the body to be fully exposed. This golden opportunity for damage is too often neglected by fighters who are overly chasing a knockout or stoppage. Body strikes take away a fighter’s ability to recover, breathe, power and cause tremendous pain. This leaves the mounted fighter with a tremendous dilemma: guard the head and allow the body to be taken out from under them, or guard the body and risk a knockout. A powerful series of body blows will do a incredible amount of long term damage within the fight both offensively and defensively.
One of the most prolific and impressive uses of this skill is that of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Chuck ‘Iceman’ Liddell in Pride Final Conflict 2003. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson was able to cause so much body damage from mount and side control that Chuck ‘Iceman’ Liddell’s corner threw in the towel.
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