Just about everyone who trains in MMA knows at least the “basic” moves.But what about those submissions or strikes that leave your jaw on the floor,a mental image burned in your brain, and a lasting impression that you refer to for years after the fight. I did the honors of sifting through fight footage from the past 15 years and compiled a list of moves that, when executed correctly, would make any fighter’s name echo in the minds of MMA fans. But don’t credit luck alone. Instead, appreciate that the rarity of their flawless execution comes from countless hours spent perfecting the following essential techniques.
7. SPINNING BACKFIST
If you’ve ever seen Shonie Carter fight, you know firsthand how effective a spinning backfist can be. When timed properly, the spinning backfist is a brutal way to add an extra body to the floor of your highlight reel. Yet, it’s a move we rarely see executed in a match. I do, however, have a feeling that the more Jon Jones fights, the more spinning backfists we will see.
6. FRONT KICK
Referred to in Muay Thai as a “teep,” a front kick is one of the most effective ways of keeping distance between you and your opponent. Yes—it can open you up to a takedown, and no—it’s not the most powerful or awe inspiring kick. Nonetheless, it is extremely effective and should be in your arsenal.
5. HIP THROW
Koshi Wazi is the judo name given to a wide range of hip throw techniques. While most mixed martial artists rely on a single or double leg to get the action to the ground, there have been several fighters who have achieved highlight reel status thanks to one of these cool tosses. Not sure how effective they are? Ask Satoshi Ishii, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo, to spar.
4. RUBBER GUARD
Rubber Guard makes the list not because it isn’t used enough, but instead, because it is seldom used correctly.Your gameplan may not include pulling guard, but you’d better make sure you have an arsenal of attacks if you get stuck there. I recommend Scott Epstein’s 10th Planet Jujitsu All Stars DVD to get you going.
3. FOOT SWEEP LYOTO
Thanks to Lyoto Machida, the foot sweep has gained some much needed notoriety inside the cage. I find it awe-inspiring that something as small as a foot can send a heavyweight crashing to the mat. The foot sweep is a beautiful and effective move that involves little risk and great reward.
2. SPINNING BACK KICK
Few kicks have the velocity to move your padded-up training partner across the gym floor like a well placed spinning back kick. Cung Le’s favorite move takes surgeon-like precision to pull off under fire, yet the ability to send your opponent airborne and gasping for breath should give you all the motivation you need to train this bad boy.
1. OUTSIDE LEG TRIP
The outside leg trip is one of my personal favorites. Working almost like a sacrifice throw, you hook your lead leg around your opponent’s and drive your weight through him. By immobilizing one of your opponent’s legs and having your body weight behind the action, you create a safe and highly effective way of getting to the mat. Very little scramble space is available, thus leaving you in a dominant position.
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