The more I watch MMA, the more I find myself picking up over the course of a fight. Watching “Fight for the Troops” this past Saturday night, I was blown away seeing Pat Barry using leg kicks against Joey Beltran. I’m not sure we truly appreciate the power these guys deliver in their kicks just sitting on our couch watching the fight on TV. I almost think we have to be in the arena to hear the noise a well placed kick to the leg makes. It reminds me of a pitcher in baseball who throws in the mid 90’s. That “THWACK” sound the baseball makes when hitting the catcher’s mitt is as close as I can think of to the sound of foot hitting leg.
It’s also hard on TV to gauge the damage done. I’m sure a lot of you watched Jose Aldo use leg kicks so effectively in his fight with Urijah Faber. When the fight was over, Faber put a picture of his damaged left leg up on the internet. The color of his leg was insane! It wasn’t the usual red or purple, no, Faber’s upper leg was black. It was the result of the power from Aldo’s kicks. Faber’s ability to stay up for 5 rounds and continue to take the constant abuse to his legs, was confirmation of his toughness.
I had the same feeling watching Joey Beltran Saturday night. When leg kicks are the difference, the fight always seems to follow the same pattern. Barry kicks Beltran. Beltran stops in his tracks; his facial expression telling you “Damn! That hurt!!” Not long after a slight limp comes into effect. As more kicks land that limp becomes a hop, and it really becomes a battle against the clock. How many kicks can Barry (or Aldo) land, and how long can Beltran (or Faber) stay standing. When I interviewed Beltran last week, he said his key to victory was landing five punches for every one kick landed by Barry.
It told me a huge part of his game plan was trying to defend against the kick, as I am sure it was with Faber prior to the Aldo fight. The beauty is watching the execution of the kicks by guys as good as Aldo and Barry. Their mindset is,”You and I both know it’s coming, good luck defending it.”
I covered the San Diego Padres when Trevor Hoffman was in his prime. When Hoffman came into the game, EVERYBODY in the stadium knew Hoffman was going to throw his change-up if he got two strikes on the hitter. As soon as the count was 0-2, did Hoffman ever throw a fastball or a curveball? Nope. It was “Here comes my best pitch”, and more often than not the hitter had no answer for it, just as Faber and Beltran had no answer for Aldo and Barry’s best weapon.
There are so many things to appreciate within the duration of a fight; but the use of a good leg kick is quickly becoming one of my favorites.