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Despite What “Rampage” Jackson Says, Linear Knee Strikes Are Much Ado About Nothing

(Who knew keeping your back against the cage was effective defense? This kept Vitor’s knee from ending up like Willis McGahee. Pic Props:Ryan Kightlinger)

By Jason Moles

Yesterday on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, your all too friendly, neighborhood reporter-humping, cage fighter made an appearance. And, as per usual, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson left the MMA world with a lot to talk about after withdrawing from UFC 153 and using TRT to trading verbal jabs and “F*ck you!”‘s with former TUF 10 contestant, Matt Mitrione. What was more notable from the interview was Jackson’s criticism of light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his dirty, dirty knee kicks.

Vitor took the fight on short notice, and this is how you respect him, by kicking his knee backwards and stuff like that? He’s supposed to be a man of God. You can injure somebody, you can sever their career. You can mess people up for life kicking their knee back like that and he does it repeatedly, over and over. To me that has no honor. I take a lot of honor in fighting. He has no honor.

The former Pride and UFC champion went on to question why the athletic commission even allow “stuff like that” to be legal, arguing that if Jones keeps fighting dirty like this, he’ll put everyone on the shelf and won’t have anyone left to fight. As it would turn out, he’s not alone.’s Adam Martin took to twitter to voice his displeasure of the use of linear kicks to the knee as well and reminded his followers that the CSAC already bans the technique.

Just because one state bans something doesn’t make it a good decision (yeah, I’m looking at you New York!). Remember the craziness surrounding the Adlan Amagov/Keith Barry fight on the undercard at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman? Never would’ve happened if everyone fought under the Unified Rules – which allow linear kicks to the knee – but I digress.

You remember when Kenny Florian was in a bloodbath or two and some people wanted to ban elbows? It’s the same argument all over again. All opposed complain that the usefulness of the strike in question is limited and is simply doing more cosmetic damage or causing career altering injuries than actually getting the fighter closer to victory via traditional methods like a knockout or submission. Conversely, all proponents of the (mostly) legal tactics point to their effectiveness at rocking opponents or allowing a fighter to keep an opponent at bay.

Question: Who doesn’t like razor sharp elbows or discombobulating knee strikes? Answer: Anyone who has ever faced a fighter who used them and couldn’t find a way to stop them. Here’s another question for you: What makes the type of kick Jon Jones utilized against “Shogun” Rua and Vitor Belfort (let’s not forget Carlos Condit using them recently as well) any more dangerous than a heel hook? After seeing an injury like this, are you going to tell me you’re more worried about some dinosaur’s knee because of a simple kick? Didn’t think so.

I’m convinced there will always be percentage of the population that fully embodies the “Just Bleed” mentality. The idea that mixed martial arts is little more than a glorified street fight fuels their desire to see defenseless grounded fighters have their face caved in with a devastating knee to the mouth. These people crave gratuitous violence and if given their druthers, would award fighter’s bonuses for soccer kicking their opponents head into the crowd like a Mortal Kombat fatality. These people would set the sport back a decade if they ran the athletic commissions.

Supporting the tactical use of certain attacks, however “dirty” others may perceive them to be, does not qualify you as one of those people.

Watching world-class athletes square off in the Octagon to test their skills is not for everyone, after all it is still (for the most part) two guys balling up their fists trying to punch each other’s lights out. But if it is for you, there are far more threatening problems facing fighters today than the type of kick Jon Jones used against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 on Saturday night. It’s time we realize fighters are going to get hurt from time to time and more often than not, the injury will occur long before his music hits the speakers. Stop worrying about guys getting jacked up during a fight and focus more on keeping him from getting sidelined during practice. (Yes, we’re talking about practice.)

Cagepotato Comments

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T4Nk- September 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm
The UFC's rules are fine the way they are. I don't want to see this sport decline due to changes in the rules, I mean look at football now. If the quaterback gets his vagina rubbed the wrong way it's a penalty everytime, unless your names Michael Vick of course. I know this is different, but the UFC has had the same rules for awhile now and thats because they work, and if its not broke dont fix it.
KarmaAteMyCat- September 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm
Why Thank you.
itsfurysfury- September 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm
@Karma, yes you are riding atop a very high horse, no words can convince you that you are being a tad arrogant in your post, specially if you're on a very high pedestal and you still didn't seem to notice it. Opinions are of course welcome, but no normal, sane person can read your comment below without thinking 'Wow this dude's a douche'
KarmaAteMyCat- September 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm
@Steelcityslicker: LOL, Someone seems to be a bit full of themselves or maybe a lack there of. I never said I was king shit I tote it because we are on an MMA Website and because some people value my opinion. I have talked no shit about anyone I would not say in person to them. I have not said anything personal I simply disagree with opinions and use logical points of view to do so. I am atop no pedestal sir anyone with input is welcome here at Cagepotato. It doesn't mean you won't see opposition to said input. Grow up take it like a man don't get butt hurt over the internet guy. RAAWWR IM AN MMA FIGHTER RAWWR. Trolololol
JayJitsu310- September 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm
If linear knee kicks are legal, then intentional strikes to the collarbone should be as well, and might as well allow small joint manipulation while we're at it.
KPT- September 26, 2012 at 10:48 am
Nobody speaks about it: Vitor tried to kick in the face of the crouching Jones. What about respect?
JayJitsu310- September 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm
And coming in crouching is respectful in what way? please enlighten me...
amsterdamheavy- September 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm
Yeah, what about it? Manipulating the rules to give yourself an advantage shows no respect - give it to get it.
THE LAW- September 26, 2012 at 10:39 am
Lets see Skinny Bones Jones move up to Heavy, and try that sht against Cormier and get broke the hell off......... he can throw one of them chicken "bones" at him but he wont ever get it back....
Steelcityslicker- September 26, 2012 at 10:28 am
It is a punk ass move to pull.

Submissions, unless they are sunk deep and fast, you have a chance to tap to and prevent further damage. If you chose not to tap, that is your choice and you will have to live with the consequences.

Strikes to the head - it is inherent in fighting and people recognize the danger. There is a reason as to why people keep their hands up.

Strikes to the knee you dont have a chance to tap, let alone react. The object of the fight sport.....and that is what it is - a sport - is to stop your opponent. Not take away his livelyhood by injuring him. Knee's are not the most durable part of your body. It doesnt take much to mess you up long term. There is a reason why you feel so much pain when they get torqued is your body's way of saying "enough." I have yet to see someone fight through and superman out of a deep leglock.

Why not allow shots to the nuts? It is a part of the body - you should accept and embrace the fact that your nuts are at risk every time you fight. It is only logical, right??

@Karma, you are not the only fighter on here, but you appear to be the only one who walks around, wearing it like a badge. You talk a lot of shit to a lot of people who you know nothing about and have placed yourself atop a very high horse.
Fisticuffs- September 26, 2012 at 6:22 am
This is a move that's supposed to jack the knee up, pop it the other way; to hyper extend it...So...

You might be retarded if you think this strike has less potential to hurt somebody more than say a normal leg kick. Why that makes you retarded? Because you don't understand how the knee works. Taking a body shot is a lot less potentially dangerous than getting your knee hyper extended.
Nippletwist- September 26, 2012 at 4:16 am
if you dont like the move, do something about it, train for it, figure out how to defend it, counter it with something, it's not like theres no defense for this and no way to avoid it.
Free Donny G- September 26, 2012 at 3:08 am
How many people have actually been injured from this strike? jon jones certainly has not injured anyone with it. if it's so dangerous and career ending, why is no one getting hurt from it? any strike could potentially injure someone, the point of fighting techniques are to harm your opponent, that's what fighting is. the only people complaining about this are sore losers who are butthurt over jon jones success (i.e. rampage jackson).
cman- September 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm
Karma, I never said a word about honor in the 3 point stance, i say it does not qualify you as a downed opponent, allowing for all manner of strikes, and since vitor did not get a warning Im thinking the ref agreed.
KarmaAteMyCat- September 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm
some of you are idiots but what do I know. I only compete and train. Come prepared or stay out of the fucking cage. I respectfully disagree with the train of thought that the three point stance and Knee strike are less honorable. Horse shit. I have much respect for anyone who gets in the cage. They know like I do we have rules, I've read every rule in MMA several times. You don't have to agree but referee's are required to enforce these rules inside that cage. It's their job. If you can't do your job then fuck you I'll I'm sure we can find someone who can. Plenty of referee's are waiting for the chance to referee a larger scale MMA card. I am shocked to find some of you condone the kicking of a downed opponent in the face. You must all realize that not everyone does MMA for the adulation from the crowd. It's just business.
JayJitsu310- September 28, 2012 at 11:37 pm
Come prepared or stay out of the fucking cage + I am shocked to find some of you condone the kicking of a downed opponent in the face = Contradiction.
CPYourWritersSuck- September 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm
Go spar at any gym in existence and throw one of those. You'll be lucky to get thrown out without catching a beating. The singular purpose of that kick is to do damage to the knee joint, otherwise it has zero impact on the outcome of a fight. Your comparisons to elbows and armbars are absurd. Elbows cause cuts that get stitched up the same night and heal by themselves while you resume your normal life, cuts don't require surgery and months or years of recovery, and an armbar while certainly dangerous doesn't apply near the amount of force or impact as a kick that does its damage the instant it makes contact. Go train once before you call out legends. CP writers...Jesus!
J. Spaceman- September 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Didn't I already say “fuck this argument”? What, you assholes got cocks in your ears?

Ok, seriously though, here's the biggest problem with all the arguments posted here. They're all anecdotal. The same thing happens in the UG every couple of months. It's all “this one guy I met” and, even in TheCanadian's well-articulated post, it was you “can see the danger in this strike”. However, to this day, I have yet to meet a single MMA fighter whose career ended from this kick. And, in the thousands and thousands of hours of MMA video I have watched, I have never seen a single instance of a fighter seriously injured by this kick.

Show me the evidence and I'll change my tune. Until then, you may want to rethink your arguments. Concussions end more fighters' careers than this kick ever has. But you don't see anyone talking about banning the overhand right.

Oh, and I'll say it again; all it takes to stop the effectiveness of this kick is putting your lead leg out in front, bending the knee, putting more weight on it. Why do you think we weren't talking about this after the Jones-Machida fight? Machida's stance does a great job of negating the effectiveness of that kick.
FightZen- September 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm
The difference between those kicks and a heel hook? The recipient has the option to submit before permanent damage is done in one of them. When you're aiming for a knee, your only intention (and your proof of success) is permanent damage. It's not illegal, but it's not cool either.
amsterdamheavy- September 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm
It's less than honorable to attempt to damage an opponents joints in a way that does not allow a submission.

if this kick is legal, then it should be legal to lock out an arm, and then strike the tricep causing the elbow to hyperextend - same effect, different joint and while not TECHNICALLY a strike to a joint, for all intent and purposes it surely IS a strike to the joint.

In my opinion these are both "strikes to the joint" in all practicality and should not be allowed if we arent allowing knees to the head of a downed opponent.

I mean fuck it, if we allow these kicks, which can do instant, irreparable harm to a joint then why no small joint manipulation?

Fuck it - why no gouging? Why no groin strikes?

Id rather be kicked in the balls, especially wearing a steel cup, then have my fucking knee hyper-extended.
KDHR3TBC- September 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm
Cuts from elbows aren't the same as a dislocated knee. Nick Diaz improved depsite a fight stopping cut. Had it been a knee injury stoppage, maybe thats a different story.
TheCanadian- September 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm
"You remember when Kenny Florian was in a bloodbath or two and some people wanted to ban elbows?"

Very misleading statement. From what I remember, it was the elbows kenflo would throw from his back generally to the top of his opponents head (him vs J-Lau for example) that people argued were of questonable legality due to some people saying it was the same technique as a 12 to 6 elbow.

"Here’s another question for you: What makes the type of kick Jon Jones utilized against “Shogun” Rua and Vitor Belfort (let’s not forget Carlos Condit using them recently as well) any more dangerous than a heel hook?"

Also a misleading statement IMHO. A heel hook does not occur in a single second like a strike (usually, at least). You can usually tap to a heel hook when you feel you are in a bad spot. Hell, theres videos of Paul Harris in jits matches where he makes people tap basically before he even has it locked in because people are afraid of even having to be in a position to fight it off. The day someone gets hurt by one of these type of strikes, that fighter isn't going to have the time or option to tap out to avoid injury.

Personally I think anyone who has even so much as ran track, let alone engaged in organized sports can see the danger in this strike. I can't remember which fight it was, but I recall Rogan asking to see the strike in slow mo, and you could see how borderline hyper extended the guys leg was. Its not like we are talking about whether a foot stomp is a bitch move. We are talking about whether throwing a strike that is blatantly aimed at hyper extending someones leg in a flash repeatedly is a bitch/dangerous move. While I don't think its a bitch move (shits legal after all), I do think its relatively dangerous. Would this sport will be any less exciting with the strike being deemed illegal and never used again? Hell the fuck no. If a 12 to 6 elbow to the face is illegal how is a strike designed to hyper extend your leg any less dangerous? As for karma talking about how it doesnt hit the knee, it hits above the knee, I respectfully call bullshit. The strike (at least how Jones throws it) is indeed landing above the knee, but its thrown slightly donward to ride into the knee, thus hyper extending the leg. There is no way anyone is going to tell me someone is throwing this strike to hit your lower thigh as if thats a significant strike. Its a bizarre hyper extension strike technique that I feel we can do without.

But hey, what do I know.
Jugger- September 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm
I've seen these kicks more in the last six months than I have in the last 6 years. I don't like them. If a person ends a fight with one, they will likely end a career at the same time. All kicks, subs, and punches have the "potential" to cause long-term harm. That kick is actually "intended" to cause long-term harm... and unlike a sub, you're not given an opportunity to tap out.
khonomtom- September 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm
This article, has thle is plain bs...has this guy ever seen how this technique can jack up the knee, if you are true fighter its common sense that you are in there to win and not injure them to an extent that can end their career, I have seen guys who got their knees jacked by this technique, so please man, its infuriating this article supports this technique, and you copmare this to the elbow strike? come on...I agree that this strike is very effective to either keep the opponent at bay or distract the opponent enough to let their hands down so you can strike the face, but it can be very serious injury if the knee gets kicked backwards, I have torn my ACL and its common knowledge that ligaments in your knee are fragile and when you tear you don't even realize until your knee gives I completely agree with rampage, its not a technique I would use in a fight...this article is bs, hands down...get kicked in the knee and then let me know if you still feel the same way...
KarmaAteMyCat- September 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm
@FLETCH - I throw kicks like this myself. whats wrong with them? They actually come from a style of Kung fu/ Wushu even Bruce Lee's Jeet kun do uses them, The strike is suppose to be right above or right below the knee. Direct strikes on the knee are illegal, this isn't like football we don't need to change the rules of the game to protect our franchise winning quarterback. I feel if you come into MMA and can't finish a move because someones broken arm is gonna keep you up at night or someones mangled Achilles tendon bothers your stomach. I suggest you find some other "Sport" to participate in. This entire sport is about winning while using the rules handed down by whatever fucked up Governing body happens to run the state you happen to be competing in(Hopefully it isn't the CSAC). I feel these strikes are not really that big of a deal, I mean you could tell Rampage had no answer for said strikes in his match up and could not get into his comfort zone to set up his range on Jones. I still remember Rampage giving the referee a what the fuck look.. seriously people need to get over it, this and the Three point stance are ingenious and set your opponent on tilt a lot. I explained all this the other day.
J. Spaceman- September 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm
Seriously, fuck this whole argument. Jon Jones may have nerve damage in his arm, better outlaw armbars. Chuck can't fight anymore because he doesn't have a chin, better outlaw punches to the jaw. GSP hasn't fought in forever because he injured himself during training. Better outlaw that too.

You wanna be a fighter? Evolve. This is MMA not Muay Thai and BJJ. You wanna defend that kick? Bend your knee and put more weight on your front leg. Just because they didn't teach you that in MMA class doesn't mean it should be illegal.
J-Dog- September 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm
I've never trained in any type of martial arts other than a little boxing... and fencing which doesn't count. Anyway, I always regarded this technique as a way to end a street fight - in the same class as the intentional nut kick or throat strike. It seems dirty to me in today's more-evolved MMA... a technique used with the clear intent to end the fight via injury.
icehole10- September 25, 2012 at 11:59 am
page is stupid. armbars destroy elbows, kneebars destroy knees, and so on. if it's legal, it's fine.