One crucial factor that separates UFC from other combat sports is the use of Leg Kicks. Leg Kicks have been running the show for quite some time in the UFC now, and a classic, modern example would be the rematch between Poirier and McGregor where the American MMA star kept landing leg kicks to take the Irishman down. So, here’s a list of the best leg kickers in UFC’s history:
The Brazillian has been part of UFC since 2010 and is undoubtedly one of the best leg kickers in modern UFC. The 25-year-old ruled the lightweight and featherweight divisions with his powerful leg kicks and is also the only UFC fighter to win two fights using leg kicks. His first leg kick victory came in UFC 123 where he finished Mike Lullo with a leg kick in the third round and his second leg kick victory came at UFC 162 where his solid leg kick put Rafaello Oliveira to sleep in the opening minutes of round two. Leg Kicks are an important part of Barboza’s strategy and fighters like Dan Hooker, Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, and Evan Dunham have all been at the receiving end of it. In 2012, he defeated Terry Etim by a third round KO and became the first fighter to finish an opponent via a wheel kick. This also earned him the 2012 Knockout of the Year award.
If you are a big fan of Leg Kicks, you should recall this fighter from the early 2010s, Thiago “Pitbull ” Alves. During his initial years in UFC, he never depended on leg kicks but once he built awareness about them and started using them, there was no stopping him. The Brazillian’s career highlight was when he took out two UFC veterans, Kuniyoshi Hironaka and Chris Lytle with his leg kicks. One of the most iconic victories of his career came against Josh Koscheck at UFC 90 where his leg kicks played a vital role. Alves kept landing kicks on Koscheck’s left leg continuously for three rounds and ended up scoring a knockdown with his leg.
“The Highlight” has stuck around the UFC for over a decade now and while we know that Justin Gaethje’s punches are enough to knock opponents out, it’s the leg kicks that usually gives opponents the real damage. We have seen those leg kicks have a severe effect on tough fighters like Michael Johnson and Eddie Alvarez. One of his best fights in UFC was against Tony Ferguson in which Gaethje rushed in with leg kicks and kept landing them till Ferguson was knocked out in Round 5. Even in his loss to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin caused a lot of damage to the Russian with his leg kicks. Outside the UFC, the American Martial Artist has defeated three opponents with his fierce leg kicks.
No other fighter in UFC history would have used leg kicks as much as Jose Aldo did during his long MMA career. Since making his UFC debut, Aldo is seen to have unusual strength in his legs which he has put to maximum use. In his long reign as the feather champion, he defeated fighters like Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, and Ricardo Lamas. One of his most significant wins due to leg kicks came in his WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) days when he faced Urijah Faber. At the end of the fight, both of Faber’s legs were black and swollen.
The 48-year-old former UFC legend, Pedro Rizzo was notably one of the first fighters to start using leg kicks. Under the training of Marco Ruas, his leg kicks started to become a strong part of his game and fierce strategy. He became the first fighter to ever knock someone out with a leg kick when he faced Dan Severn at UFC 27. His leg kicks in his fight versus Randy Couture at UFC 31 was one of the best fights of his career, with fans quoting the likeness of his leg kick to a “Baseball Bat swinging at 100mph”, after watching that fight.
[Featured Image Credit: Official – Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves]