In honour of tonight’s big Brazilian showdown between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort for the UFC Middleweight Championship, let’s marvel again at two of MMA’s best knockouts ever.
The first is Anderson’s Silva’s Ong Bak-inspired Muay Boran elbow against Tony Fryklund at Cage Rage 16: Critical Condition.
Bloody Elbow shares a tale from Silva’s MMA instructional book about how Silva was practicing the move at home with his wife holding pillows as pads. Silva’s trainers thought the unorthodox move was impractical and wouldn’t let him work it at the gym:
To get in the practice I needed, I had [my wife] stand on the couch every evening after my official training — this time holding a pillow — and I would do one hundred reverse back elbows. By the time the Frykland fight came around, I felt very confident…
…Again my trainers told me to forget that move. I figured I had no other choice but to prove them wrong, so two minutes into my fight with Frykland, I stepped toward him, threw a lead reverse back elbow at his chiin [sic], and knocked him out.”
Think Silva is just a freak with unheard-of natural talent? Well, he probably is that too, but read that again: he was throwing one hundred practice elbows every night after his regular training was done.
Let’s see it in action:
Next up is Vitor Belfort’s 44-second technical knockout of Wanderlei Silva at UFC Ultimate Brazil in 1998. Keep in mind how dangerous a striker Silva is, and how durable he is — he wouldn’t get knocked out again until 2006, by a Mirko Cro-Cop head kick no less.
Belfort uses his quick explosive power to charge right through Silva with an unending, forward-moving barrage of straight lefts and rights. Jeet Kune Do and Wing Chun students will recognize the strategy as a “straight blast”. Though Belfort stays outside in the pocket and doesn’t fully crash in to close-quarters, and because of his boxing background his elbows aren’t as tight as a Wing Chun’s practitioner’s, he is still throwing his punches directly aimed at Silva’s center line. No looping hooks or overhand punches, just point A to point B, forcing Silva to instinctively back-pedal until there’s nowhere left to run.
A swarm of forward-moving straight punches is sometimes referred to as a “boxing blast” in MMA. The difference? Notice Belfort never fully turns his shoulder over, and his punches climb one over the other, much like Wing Chun/JKD chain punching.
Ready? (Silva wasn’t.)