For some crazy reason MMA fighters aren't allowed to pretend their downed opponent's head is this soccer ball under the unified rules. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
UFC and Bellator veteran Roger Huerta fought at One FC this weekend and lost in spectacular fashion to Zorobabel Moreira. You can see an animated gif of that kick after the jump. It was just as brutal as everyone says.
Here's how our own Anton Tabuena described the action in the fight:
Zoro out-struck a very game Huerta and had the veteran hurt on several occasions, eventually finishing with a BRUTAL soccer kick KO. It's a technique that is legal in the hybrid ruleset of ONE Fighting Championship, and the Evolve MMA product becomes first fighter in the promotion to actually finish the fight with it.
Even though the event took place in the early morning hours ET, the animated gif making the rounds has stirred quite a bit of discussion in the MMA community.
Dr. Johnny Benjamin in particular has been outspoken in his disdain for soccer kicks in MMA. We'll hear from Dr. Johnny after the jump.
Here's the gif
And here's what Dr. Johnny Benjamin said at MMA Junkie:
Broken necks (cervical spine fractures) can easily injure the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis and, in some cases, death. Depending on the positioning of the head at impact, direction and magnitude (vector) of the blow, the neck will break (fracture) at roughly 800 to 1,000 foot-pound force (preferred unit is Newtons (N) but I will not bore you with the math).
The average casual adult soccer player can kick a ball with 1,000 foot-pound force. The average professional soccer player can kick at about 1,200 foot-pound force. My educated guess is that an elite, highly trained MMA artist will perform very similar to the professional soccer player.
As we can see, the MMA athlete can very easily generate more than enough force to cause a very significant injury (specifically cervical spine fracture) to a grounded opponent. If the neck luckily is not broken with this crude, unskilled maneuver, the trachea (wind pipe) and carotid artery also lie directly in harm's way; significant trauma to either can be permanently life-altering.
The rationale that it is safe because it has been done before and no one got hurt is faulty on many levels. Just because you may be unaware of anyone being injured doesn't prove that the act is safe. It could merely mean that you are not well-informed, poor documentation was gathered, or we're just lucky no one has been seriously injured yet.
I have to concur with Dr. Benjamin about soccer kicks. As much as I'd love to see knees to the head of a grounded opponent legalized or any kick from a fighter on his back, regardless of whether the opponent is standing or grounded, I have no desire to see soccer kicks legalized in American MMA.
Here's a different perspective from Referee Steve Mazzagatti via MMA Mania:
Jesse Holland (MMAmania): Earlier I asked you about PRIDE having different rules that allow stomps, knees to the head, and even soccer kicks. Are these tactics of an earlier era that will eventually be phased out, or do you think it makes for more exciting fights?
Steve Mazzagatti: Oh man, I'm old school, so I love to see it. It forces fighters to find new ways to defend themselves. It's easier to have a good ground game when you don't have to worry about a guy like Wanderlei Silva kicking you into the seats. Heck, I say let ‘em do whatever they want, they can even bring back groin shots. Every offense has a corresponding defense and it makes for an exciting fight. But in all honesty, I understand there has to be a balance, especially when you're talking about a mainstream audience. I don't know if we'll ever see that stuff over here, but I don't have a problem with it.