Side kicks to the knee. Once the exclusive domain of Jon Jones, we’ve now started to see them more and more in big UFC fights. Just this past pay-per-view at UFC 225, Robert Whittaker side kicked Yoel Romero’s knee repeatedly (but hey, Romero did it to him in their first fight). And then there was the UFC’s trip to Liverpool where Darren Till hit Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson with a side kick that damaged Thompson’s MCL and stymied his movement.
Effective use of violence or a cheap shot? Considering the attack could blow out a fighter’s knee and sideline them for over a year, it should be no surprise that many UFC athletes don’t like side kicks to the knee. BJPenn.com’s Chris Taylor got the chance to sit down with Stephen Thompson and ask him what he thought. Considering “Wonderboy” is currently out of training for 8 weeks off that one Till side kick, you can guess how he feels about them.
“I honestly think that strike should be made illegal. It could end somebodies career. You know Robert Whittaker had to have ACL surgery following his first fight with Yoel Romero due to that particular strike. And as you could see, Robert Whittaker made sure to beat Yoel Romero to the punch in their second fight. He threw a lot more than he did this time around. It is just a very dangerous technique. I think a lot of fighters throw that strike but sometimes it is for different reasons. When I fought Jorge Masvidal he used that same side kick to the knee. But when Jorge threw it, he was doing so just to keep me away. Not in an attempt to injure my knee. But when I was in the cage fighting Till it felt like ok this guy is trying to break my leg. It was like he had intentions of ripping everything out in my knee. That’s how I felt anyway. Like this dude is really trying to injure me in here. I think it an ugly strike and that it should be made illegal.”
You know what they say: a side kick for a side kick leaves the entire UFC roster out until the end of 2019. I’m more of a PRIDE rules kind of guy when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be allowed to fly during a fight, but maybe discouraging this particular attack before we lose years off the careers of some great athletes wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Who knows, though. Perhaps the problem is already taking care of itself in a ‘You kick my knee, I’ll kick yours’ kind of way.