If Jordan Mein’s brutal finish of Evangelista “The Other Cyborg” Santos this past weekend showed us anything, it’s that the elbow strike is easily one of the most underutilized, not to mention plain deadly, tools in the MMA game. Now I know, I know, there are a couple people out there who will say that the lesson has already been taught, but the fact remains that until we witnessed it, many of us had all but ruled out the elbow as a means to finish a fight on the feet. Well, except for one really, really epic way, which I’m not sure counts. So with that in mind, let us take a look at some of the finer instances of the elbow in combat sports.
Jongsanan Fairtex v. Sakmongkol
Props to Geezer for the find, which features former Muay Thai phenom Anucha Chaiyasen a.k.a “Jongsanan Fairtex” and fellow fighter Sakmongkol. And before you go thinking “Jongsanan Fairtex” is some kind of “Kimbo Slice” style alternate persona, it is actually part of a tradition in Thailand to take the name of your camp. The match, which became known as “the elbow match”, was actually the fifth out of eight times that these two had met in the ring, and was nominated for fight of the decade. The devastating power of the elbow strike was first showcased in Muay Thai, its sharpness equated to that of a razor, and this match is perhaps one of the best examples of its effectiveness.
Gary Goodridge v. Paul Herrera
Though the first UFC was meant to demonstrate the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it also showed that you can do serious work with them elbows, son. The fight featured CP Army Captain Gary Goodridge against Paul Herrera. Poor, Poor, Paul Herrera. In the less than half a minute, Goodridge was able to land a rapid fire series of elbows that would make Riki-Oh blush with blood-soaked envy. Never before and never again would the mainstream audience be treated to such a vicious display of the elbow’s power…until Patrick Smith did this to Scott Morris at the very next UFC event. But after that, never again. Probably.
Anderson Silva v Tony Fryklund
You knew this was coming, because one cannot discuss the elbow strike, or any strike for that matter, without mentioning Anderson Silva. Inspired by a move from the Tony Jaa vehicle Ong-Bak, Silva practiced this puppy hundreds of times a night at home before unleashing it on journeyman Tony Fryklund at Cage Rage 16 back in 2006, sending him into a pose that Tank Abbott would have something to say about. It was not only his best KO of all time, but one of the best walk off KO’s of all time, and a testament to the greatness that is the elbow strike.
Jon Jones‘ Career
No one, not Kenflo, not Ortiz, not even God himself has demonstrated the effectiveness of elbows in MMA than current Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. In his wins over Stephan Bonnar, Brandon Vera, and Vladimir Matyushenko, “Bones” practically created his own AND 1 mixtape of elbow laced annihilation. It took a DQ loss to Matt Hamill at the TUF 10 Finale for Bones to truly hone those instruments of destruction, and holy hell did he ever. If Jones’ elbows had a spirit animal, it would be a Sabre-tooth Tiger with ice picks for eyes and sledgehammers for paws. I’m just saying, stay away from those things if you value your face and/or life.
Perhaps Mein’s spectacular finish was just the beginning of forthcoming trend, like double knockouts or Nick Diaz succumbing to expectations. In any case, I think it’s fair to say that the elbow’s stock is rising, and my greedy ass is going to buy every last share. You hear that Michael Douglas?!