Popularised by Jon “Bones” Jones, side kicks to the knee – otherwise known as oblique kicks – have long been the bane of many fighters on the receiving end of them.
In 2013, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson called for the kicks to be banned after going four rounds with Jones and taking punishment to his knees as he advanced on his opponent.
Now, it’s Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson who believes they should be banned after picking up a knee injury against Darren Till at UFC Liverpool thanks to the Scouser’s penchant for oblique kicks.
Wonderboy lost a tight decision to Till and believes a side kick to his knee in the fight’s opening rounds hampered his performance due to an MCL tear. The knee injury will prevent Thompson from training for at least eight weeks.
“Me and my coaches came back and watched the fight.” Thompson told BJ Penn’s Chris Taylor of his injury. “You know, there was one thing that really slowed me down during the fight and that was the side kick to the knee.
“It caught me just right in the center of the knee in the first or second round. I believe it was the second round if I remember correctly. But yeah man I heard some cracking and popping and it slowed me down tremendously so it was hard for me to move around the way I wanted to.
“I was also worried that if he hit it again the fight would be over. Not just that but also my career. It would have been devastating to tear my ACL for a second time. But yeah after watching the fight, you know, there’s always something you can go back and work on.
“You know I tore my MCL in the fight with Till. We did an MRI and thankfully nothing else was damaged. No surgery is required for this injury but I have to give it at least eight weeks to heal properly before I can get back to training.”
Thompson went on to say he believes Till used the kick with “ugly” intentions, looking to injure him rather than simply stop him in his tracks to keep Wonderboy at a distance.
“I honestly think that strike should be made illegal,” he continued with Taylor. “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, Whittaker made sure to beat 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.”
Although this has been a topic debated between fighters before, it’s unlikely the campaign to stop oblique kicks will catch on in a sport where limbs can be broken at the joint through certain submission holds.