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Doctor explains what happens to the knee after a ‘successful’ oblique kick

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Dr. David Abbasi talks about the oblique kick after Khalil Rountree’s UFC Vegas 36 win over Modestas Bukauskas

According to UFC Stats, Khalil Rountree defeated Modestas Bukauskas via TKO at the 2:30 mark of the second round of their light heavyweight scrap at UFC Vegas 36. The technique Rountree used to earn himself his first knockout win since he stopped Gokhan Saki in 2018, was, according to that same site, “ Kick to Leg At Distance Side kick” or what most call an oblique kick.

The kick, which is legal, has been a controversial one for some time. It is a technique that former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has become somewhat infamous for using.

In 2013, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson let his thoughts be known about the kick after a loss to Jones.

“It should be called the illegal kick,” Rampage told ESPN.

“It should be banned and it shows a lot about the fighter’s character that he would throw it. How would he like it if somebody threw it at him and stopped him working for a year?”

Bukauskas, who was carried from the octagon on Saturday, had a different outlook on the technique that ended his fight opposite Rountree.

“Getting MRI when I get home probably ligament damage And yo please give my opponent some slack, that kick was all good, it was my job to defend and I didn’t. Let the man enjoy his victory,” said on social media.

One of the keys to a successful oblique kick is delivering the blow to front or the outside of an opponent’s knee while that fighter has their foot planted. According to Dr. David Abbasi, when the technique lands with the opponent’s foot planted, “all the energy goes through the knee.”

That energy puts stress on the inside portion of the knee and the result, according to Dr. Abbasi, “That really targets the structures on the inside such as the MCL or medial collateral ligament, the medial meniscus… and that can actually rip off the back of the capsule or the lining of the knee joint. The next thing that would get stretched out would the be ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which is the middle of the knee, which helps with rotational stability.”

“If you have those three things get torn, we call that an unhappy triad because it’s a very sever injury that’s going to require orthopedic surgeries and a lot of rehab and a lot of time missed because of such an injury.”

Abbasi said the most likely scenario is that Bukauskas, because of how the kick puts tension on the knee, would have more damage to his MCL than other parts of his knee.

After the fight, many UFC fighters offered their opinion on the fight-ending technique and it seemed as if most of those fighters wanted to see the kick banned. Abbasi did not offer an opinion on banning the strike, instead he deferred to the fighters, since “they are the ones putting themselves at risk every time they step into the ring.”

In 2020, The Athletic performed an MMA fighter survey. Of the 170 professional fighters who were polled on banning the oblique kick, 68.2 percent said the technique should remain legal.

With the attention Rountree’s stoppage via the legal, yet controversial oblique kick, the topic of banning the technique will rise to the top of a discussion that includes soccer kicks, knees to the head of a downed opponent, the 12-to-6-elbow and preventing eye pokes during fights. That is to say, expect a lot of talk, but not a lot of action.