Given that the main striking art for most MMA fighters would be either Muay Thai or boxing, it’s not everyday that you see Taekwondo in MMA. But since Taekwondo is one of the most widely practiced martial arts across the world, it’s also not too unusual to have an MMA fighter with a Taekwondo background, and it does make for quite spectacular entertainment when a fighter is knocked out with a Taekwondo kick. In this article we count down 5 of the best Taekwondo finishes in MMA.
- Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 126 (February 5, 2011)
- Michael ‘Venom’ Page vs. Ben Dishman – UCMMA 26: The Real Deal (February 4, 2012)
- Cung Le vs. Scott Smith 2 – Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum (June 26, 2010)
- Adam Khaliev vs. Alexey Belyaev – League S-70: Russian Grand Prix 2011 (December 22, 2011)
You can’t call yourself a legitimate Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva fan, or even an MMA fan, if you don’t know about Anderson Silva’s memorable knockout against Vitor Belfort. Although the two were expected to fight each other earlier in UFC 108, their bout had been postponed several times due to injuries on both sides until UFC 126. With Belfort’s striking style in contrast to Silva’s counter-striking style, both fighters spent the first two minutes trying to get a feel for each other. Eventually, Vitor initiated with his striking with the crowd chanting Vitor’s name, despite Silva being the defending champion. However, Silva stunned the crowd as he knocked out Belfort with a front snap kick to the face. Even Joe Rogan’s reaction was ecstatic as he acknowledged that such a knockout was uncommon even for a karate or Taekwondo match.
Michael ‘Venom’ Page (MVP) had a solid start to his professional MMA career, presenting a rather unconventional style and heaps of unpredictability, and he constantly tagged his opponent Dishman with face punches and low kicks. Within one minute, MVP knocked out his opponent with a tornado kick to the liver. Page would later sign with Bellator MMA and is currently undefeated with a 13-0 record.
If you’re looking for an MMA fighter who can perfectly incorporate Taekwondo kicks into his style, look no further than Cung Le. After defeating Frank Shamrock for the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship, Le unfortunately vacated the belt to focus on his acting career and, upon return, suffered his first loss at the hands of Scott Smith 21 months later.
Nevertheless, Le managed to redeem himself and defeat Smith in a rematch 6 months later. Smith started out with aggression to try and dominate Le and push him back. Having trained under a new boxing coach, Le had yet to throw his trademark kicks in the first few minutes of the fight, but it didn’t take long for Cung to hold his own against the aggressive Scott Smith, in addition catching Smith with a few face punches, plus a round kick to the head. By the second round, we start to see Le fully gain the upper ‘hand’, throwing in more of his signature kicks. He would then use a spinning back kick to knock Smith down…and out. Le then moved on to his UFC debut against Wanderlei Silva.
Whilst these fighters may not be household names in MMA, this is nevertheless a fantastic knockout that went viral. Here, Khaliev controlled the center of the ring, staying calm and collected as Belyaev did all the moving around him. Then the next thing you know, Khaliev exploded with a crisp spinning back kick that pushed his opponent to the edge of the ring. Khaliev further caught Belyaev off guard with an axe kick, before landing a clean and brutal tornado kick to the face that knocking Belyaev out cold.
…and in at #1 is…
Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim – UFC 142 (January 14, 2012)
At this point, Barboza had been boasting an undefeated record of 9-0, scored a spinning wheel kick against Anthony Njokuani, and earned Fight of the Night bonuses in his last two fights. On the other hand, Terry Etim came fresh off a victory, where he submitted Edward Faaloloto in 17 seconds via guillotine choke.
Despite the fight taking place in Barboza’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the matchup against Etim was not easy for Barboza, as Etim got in with two successful takedowns early in the match. However, Barboza managed to get calculative with clean striking combinations whilst repeatedly clipping Etim with low kicks. The Brazilian eventually knocked out Etim in the third round with a spinning wheel kick to the face, a moment that stunned Joe Rogan, who credited the finish as possibly “the most spectacular knockout in UFC history.” This was the first wheel kick knockout in the UFC, and Barboza earned both Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night bonuses. The knockout was later ranked by several media outlets as the top knockout of 2012.
So there we have it folks, 5 of the best Taekwondo finishes in MMA history. Did we get the list right? What was your fave TKD-oriented fight moment, and which aspect of MMA would you like to see get KFK’d next? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Mad about MMA? Then check out our Top 5 MMA series!)