Welcome dear fans (of other people), as of right now Clumsy Ninja's Corner delves into combination striking. Hold yourselves in readiness. Pull up an internets and let's talk standup.
There are myriad striking combinations in mma, but we are going to get into the meat and potatoes of the kitchen of pain, here. The Shaw Bros. million-move-march will be ignored, in favor of relatively high probability combos. Things like inside crescent to high roundkick into jump spinning back kick we'll be leaving to the movies and highlight reels. Low percentage moves have their place, but that place isn't here. Similarly we won't be doing weapons, as 1.)They aren't used in mma, and more importantly 2.) Anyone who can master the Flying Guillotine pwns all ur heroes....there is no debate.
ahem...ok back to the topic at hand. Striking, it's well important. Broken rhythm and variety create unpredictability, which is necessary to prevail in striking exchanges (all other factors being equal. Obviously a 300lb man doesn't need to feint or use variety to beat up a 100lb dude.) The reality of standup fighting (with weight classes), ensures that anyone competent will be mixing it up. That said, some combos, seem to work best within that texture of controlled chaos.
This list is unabashedly subjective. I am not an authority. If I've missed any significant ones, vote for the closest and share in the comments below. Speak your mind in the comments section regardless. This is a more technical discussion than most, but worthwhile.
For starters, jab jab hook is very effective at drawing the hands forward and impeding the view one's opponent has of the impending hook. This is not always a power move in mma, but it is very high probability. Working off the jab into hooks (and crosses) keeps em guessing. Fedor used jab-hook as a power move bigtime.
There is, of course, the classic Jab Cross. The ol' one two. A - B. Left - Right, ding-dong, bip-bop...overkill is overkilled. Not enough can be said about this combo's effectiveness across (striking) combat sport rule sets. It is very fast, and powerful, and done properly very little is given up in terms of center of gravity, or over extension. The landed jab snaps the head back an inch or two. The cross come right behind it, (with the jab hand coming back to guard the face). The torque in the hips drives the cross (the rotation of the hip makes the cross travel farther, landing on and punching through the opponents jabbed face).
How about them H-bombs? Dan Henderson loves that left inside leg kick - overhand right combo. Loves it dearly....Bisping, less so. In the Daniel Cormier/Hendo fight, interestingly Dan at one point lands the inside leg kick, and claps in frustration...apparently knowing if he'd thrown the bomb, he had it setup perfectly. It was IMO his best moment to win, and he knew it. The principle is simple with this. The low inside leg kick simultaneously. throws the opponent off balance, distracts them downwardly (they hurt like madness), and moves them slightly over, right in line with the overhand. Boss move. Not super high probability, but if you land it flush, you're essentially landing your best shot on a guy standing on one leg, possibly looking down. They worked out a thing, with science n' shit and Michael Bisping hasn't technically hit the floor yet, according to his atoms (which are in denial). Look for him to possibly explode, or spontaneously combust in the future..
I love me some Nick Diaz fights. Punches in bunches always come from the brash Stockton mma fighter (and triathlete), along with taunts, slaps and general awesomeness-of-fight-character. In spite of his BJJ blackbelt, Nick likes to stand and bang. In honor of him we'll glance at the right hook -straight left counter (particularly for lefties). A savvy lefty (when conditions are right) is looking to loop that right hand like a (swooping?) darting?!? (friggin) bird, just over an opponent's jab. He'll fade left a bit, landing the hook over the jab (slipping the punch simultaneously), and then come in strong with a left cross to the head or body. This move is one reason many orthodox fighters have difficulty vs. lefties.
This is a great move vs. a takedown artist. As the opponent comes under the jab to pick a leg the uppercut is unleashed into the exposed face, resulting often in da pain, and sometimes a little falling to the floor unconscious in a heap. It can be utilized moving forwards, or backwards. If someone's changing levels a bit too liberally, or obviously, this can ruin a night (and a nose).
Bas Rutten loves this combo. The chin eez knocked upwards, the head eez hit to the side, into the path zee right cross. This is a great knockout combo here. This one isn't too subtle as it's three power shots in a row, but if someone's dazed and there to be hit, this is likely a sure way to finish it.
Two power shots in quick succession. Like the jab-jab-hook combo, the initial idea is to prevent anticipation or telegraphing of the final blow. The straight is easy to see coming and the guard moves forward. The subsequent hook can sail around the guard and catch an opponent (relatively) unaware.
Jab-Cross-Hook is similar to the Right-Straight-Left-Hook, except that the jab conceals both subsequent power shots. This is bread and butter boxing or kickboxing stuff here. Possibly the most drilled combo in standup. Working jab-cross-hook into sparring is a must for any striker. Working off the jab is almost never a bad idea, and this is mechanically the best ratio of output to vulnerability around. Jab-Cross is very good, but the hook at the end gets awesome torque from the hip (that's is already wound up from the cross). It's almost a waste not to throw the hook, once you've got the Jab-cross in action.
Throw your left right but keep your hands over there, attain the clinch, and lay some knees into the opponent. This is such a great combo.
Jab-cross-low round kick
Punish the legs. Setup the punishment best, with the ol' 1-2. Jab cross keeps the attention, and the guard high, and the rotation of the hips for the cross, leads beautifully into the low round. Substitute a high round kick in after a bit, if the opponent starts dropping their hands trying to catch the low one. Many heads have been subsequently kicked using the jab-cross-low round setup (over time)
Jab- left inside leg kick.
Simple, and painful. The jab conceals the low kick. There's a nerve and a thinness of meat, that makes inside leg kicks soooooo much more painful. These aren't used as much as outside round kicks, because of the odds of hitting the "boys", and also that a good turned in knee, or shin check (ahem Chris Weidman) can wreck your sh*t if you don't turn the hip over enough (like Anderson Silva didn't). For those that can pull off the inside leg kick, without tagging the family jewels and stopping the action, this is a crippling strike. In my sparring experience, nothing hurts more (through the adrenaline), except a good liver shot. These inside leg kicks also hurt the most later on that night.
Mirko Filipovic is the king of the high round, and will always be the king of highlight reel headkick knockouts. One of the goals of a striker is to set up over time, a good flush high round kick to the head. This is the fight finisher, the brain shaker, the Crocop..if you will. His has simultaneously the most famous head kick knockouts, and was the victim of mma history's most shocking head kick KO. This is the highlight reel finale, the coconut DING sound that quiets the crowd for a moment, before it erupts into chaos. This is Highlander cutting the head off and having an immortal energygasm. This is the one I'm voting for.
Disclaimer: Mirko usually didn't use jab-cross as much as most, and was more of a straight left, move, straight left, move high left roundkick kinda guy. Most orthodox fighters tend to use jab cross round. Sorry for any confusion.