UFC 128 Results Judo Chop: Edson Barboza's Spinning Hook Kick

This is a special guest edition of Bloody Elbow's Judo Chop series focusing on the techniques of MMA written by kickboxing writer Dave Walsh, the founding editor of Head Kick Legend.  Kid Nate

Edson Barboza at UFC 128 was able to wow and excite fans in his bout with Anthony Njokuani in a kick-heavy fight. It was a close back-and-forth bout with a lot of kick techniques that fans are known to love, but one stood out. At the end of the third round Edson Barboza set up a beautiful spinning hook kick to the jaw of Anthony Njokuani.

Kickboxing fans more recently know this move as the "Leko Buster" -- the kick Badr Hari famously used on fellow K-1 fighter Stephan Leko in 2005 to knock him out. There's video of Badr Hari landing it on Leko in the full entry. The move transcends any one sport or any one martial art discipline.

The science behind the move is quite simple, and when you understand the mechanics of it, you'll understand why the move Barboza used was incredibly impressive, but much like the incredibly impressive "Showtime kick" used by Anthony "Showtime" Pettis against Ben Henderson at WEC 53, it was unable to score a knock out.

Barboza throughout the bout showed flair, looking to land a few misdirection kicks. It wasn't just at the end of the bout where he caught Anthony Njokuani off guard by spinning into a kick. There was actually an attempt at the same technique he used at the end of the bout earlier on in the fight, albeit an unsuccessful one from a few angles; it did not connect first of all and his leg was fully extended. At best it would have "paint brushed" Njokuani's face like a high impact slap without really stunning him.

Dave explains the nuances of the kick and why it didn't KO Njokuani in the full entry (with animated gifs)


Gifs by BE member Grappo

The problem there was with his leg fully extended, the technique becomes a Taekwondo kick, a Spinning Crescent Kick, or spinning outside to inside kick. The technique looks very fluid but the main problem with it, and the reason that even Taekwondo practitioners tend to shy away from it and use the spinning hook kick is that it is a waste of a lot of force for minimal impact. Your foot is what impacts and due to its flexibility, a lot of the force and inertia from the spin are lost when the foot connects and bows to the opponent's face. Think of it in terms of using arm strikes; a spinning back slap as opposed to a spinning back fist.


A technique that he does use to its full extent earlier in the fight was a spinning back kick. It is another basic misdirection kick. The idea behind it is to feint a kick with the lead leg while spinning, bringing your back leg around coiled up and uncoiling to land heel first on the opponent. We've seen many practical applications of the move, from the most basic to the midsection to the Andy Hug variation to the lead thigh and in the case of Barboza, he connects to the jaw of Njokuani who had ducked into the kick. Lucky for Njukuani, he did have his right arm up to absorb some of the force of the blow, he also has a great chin, apparently. Barboza though, without fault, does overextend a bit too quickly, which is why he landed on the jaw and actually has to fight a bit for his balance. If he had waited just a little bit longer to uncoil he would have connected square to the chest of Njokuani, which would have taken the air out of him and possibly been more effective.


This brings us to the final technique, the spinning hook kick that Barboza lands in the last few moments of the fight and was possibly able to be that little bit extra to turn the judges to his favor. The move starts by moving the heel of the lead leg outwards towards your opponent along with your hip and balancing on the ball of that lead foot, rotating your upper body so your far shoulder comes around back and faces your opponent. This allows you to glance at your target as you prepare the kick. The back leg then shoots out, not fully coiled or fully extended, at about a 45 degree angle. This leg then comes up and around, fully extending well before the target only to have the leg brought back down, into a hook so that when the kick does connect it is the extremely hard heel that makes the contact and does immense amounts of damage.

If you watch the move Barboza did on loop, his form is great and the only reason Njukuani is still standing (outside of a great chin) is that Barboza anticipated Njokuani would come forward just a little bit more with his head than he did, instead of stopping in his place when he saw the lead leg rotate into position. By the time he realized what was happening it was too late to avoid the kick entirely, but he was able to only take the impact from Barboza's foot, about half an inch away from the deadly heel that carried the most inertia and force.


What this does illustrate, is that techniques like this are best when used sparingly unless you are incredibly quick. Barboza was actually very quick with this, but after using similar techniques earlier in the fight, Njukuani was able to anticipate some sort of back spinning kick and make sure he wasn't laid out by it. So, much like the "Showtime Kick" by Pettis that Benson Henderson was able to back away from and get hit with Showtime's foot as opposed to being cracked with his shin, Njukuani was able to stop himself from moving forward and took a foot to the face instead of a heel to the fact, which would have left him on the mat.

Here's Badr Hari landing it on Leko in 2005

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