Viewers of ONE FC promotions in Malaysia this weekend were given a Pride style presentation as they continued to break away from the unified MMA rules by allowing soccer kicks to grounded opponents. That allowance was used as you can see in the gif. Roger Huerta suffered a violent KO finish via soccer kick from Brazilian  fighter, Zorobabel Moreira.

If you feel uneasy about watching the use of soccer kicks, MMAJunkie’s Dr. Johnny Benjamin may have the answer to that unease.

Broken necks (cervical spine fractures) can easily injure the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis and, in some cases, death. Depending on the positioning of the head at impact, direction and magnitude (vector) of the blow, the neck will break (fracture) at roughly 800 to 1,000 foot-pound force (preferred unit is Newtons (N) but I will not bore you with the math).

The average casual adult soccer player can kick a ball with 1,000 foot-pound force. The average professional soccer player can kick at about 1,200 foot-pound force. My educated guess is that an elite, highly trained MMA artist will perform very similar to the professional soccer player.

As we can see, the MMA athlete can very easily generate more than enough force to cause a very significant injury (specifically cervical spine fracture) to a grounded opponent. If the neck luckily is not broken with this crude, unskilled maneuver, the trachea (wind pipe) and carotid artery also lie directly in harm’s way; significant trauma to either can be permanently life-altering.

The rationale that it is safe because it has been done before and no one got hurt is faulty on many levels. Just because you may be unaware of anyone being injured doesn’t prove that the act is safe. It could merely mean that you are not well-informed, poor documentation was gathered, or we’re just lucky no one has been seriously injured yet.

Agreed, taking away the ability to  kick a grounded opponent is a step away from ‘pure‘ combat, but at the same time we care for the athletes. The level of danger in kicks to grounded opponents make a good enough reason for us to not call for them to return to unified rules. Agree?