In the world of mixed martial arts there are few techniques as brutal, but spectacularly beautiful, than the head kick.
A strike that can end a fight in an instant, we saw it in all its destructive force this weekend at UFC 238 when women’s flyweight world champion Valentina Shevchenko landed a lights-out shot on number one contender Jessica Eye.
Over the years there have been some incredible examples in the UFC – here we take a look at five of the very best.
Edson Barboza v Terry Etim – UFC 142, January 2012
The head kick that all others are still judged by. When Brazilian Barboza took on Britain’s Etim in Rio few could have predicted the earth-shattering outcome. A stunning spinning wheel kick caught Etim right on the jaw, immediately stiffening the Liverpool man, who was unconscious before hitting the canvas.
Gabriel Gonzaga v Mirko Filipovic – UFC 70, April 2007
Mirko Cro-cop came into the UFC with a fierce reputation in the fight game. ‘Right foot hospital, left foot cemetery’ was a quote that told you all you need to know about his kicking prowess. On this night in Manchester, however, the world stood in stunned silence as Brazilian Gonzaga unleashed a night-ending bolt from the blue in the very first round.
Holly Holm v Ronda Rousey – UFC 193, November 2015
The kick that changed the face of women’s MMA. Both went into the fight unbeaten, Rousey having eviscerated all before her. Few gave the ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ much chance but she dominated from the outset finishing things with a swift kick to the face of a stumbling Rousey – the follow up punches on the ground were redundant.
Lyoto Machida v Randy Couture – UFC 129, April 2011
In terms of technique, few hold a candle to this strike from Machida. While most knockout will come from spinning techniques, this front kick was a thing of pure beauty. The speed and timing to connect with the chin of Hall of Fame legend Couture was incredible. This was closely-run in this list by a similar effort from Anderson Silva against Vitor Belfort.
Aleksandar Rakic v Jimi Manuwa – UFC Fight Night 153, June 2019
A recent addition to the list from earlier this month. On a four-fight win streak in the UFC, Rakic was looking towards the light-heavyweight top-10, while Manuwa was coming off three reverses. A swift swing of the Austrian’s left leg continued his momentum in devastating fashion, and sent the Brit into retirement.
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