UFC on Fuel 6: Cung Le and the 15 Flashiest Strikers in MMA

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

UFC on Fuel 6: Cung Le and the 15 Flashiest Strikers in MMA

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    The UFC is set to break into China on November 10 with its sixth installment of the UFC on Fuel TV series. The event will be headlined by a contest between striking specialists Rich Franklin and Cung Le. 

    While few mixed martial artists have put their standup game to work as well as Franklin has over his career, even fewer can match the stylistic excellence Le exhibits each time he competes.

    As we look forward to seeing Franklin and Le battle it out this weekend, let's take a look at Le and 14 other fighters who employ an aesthetically exhilarating striking style.

Jose Aldo

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    There isn't a whole lot about the way Aldo fights that is inherently flashy, but his techniques are just so beautifully executed that they garner as much notice as anyone else's.

    Aldo has all the tools in the striking game—fast hands, precision kicks, dangerous Muay Thai techniques, formidable power—and he combines them into a relentless attack that has seen him score knockouts via punches, knee, and head-kick.

    And since destroying Urijah Faber, Aldo has gained a bit of a reputation for his debilitating leg-kicks.

    While there are many moments that effectively illustrate Aldo's sensational striking prowess, few do it so well as the attached video, which revisits Aldo's 2009 encounter with Cub Swanson.

    If the attached clip has left you wanting more, well, here's a little more.

Cosmo Alexandre

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    If you like some Muay Thai, Cosmo Alexandre might just be the guy for you.

    With extensive pro kickboxing experience and a penchant for launching knees to opponents' faces and rib cages in equal measure, Alexandre is one of MMA's more intriguing newcomers.

    He has only five professional fights to date (all with Bellator), but since losing in his debut he's reeled off four straight wins, the first of which was this brutal 0:20 knockout of Avery McPhatter.

    Since 0:20 doesn't tell you a whole lot about a fighter, why not check out some of Alexandre's pre-MMA work depicted in the attached video?

    If the action whets your appetite for some more brutal Muay Thai, good news—Alexandre's next fight is set for BFC 80, which will go Friday, November 9.

Edson Barboza

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    Edson Barboza has been putting on exhilarating Muay Thai exhibitions in the UFC for almost two years now.

    The Brazilian's back-and-forth matches with Anthony Njokuani and Ross Pearson were both memorable in their own right, but it was Barboza's knockout of Terry Etim that really stands out.

    The spinning wheel kick that Barboza landed on Etim is actually very similar to a stike he landed on Njokuani in 2011. The difference—Etim stayed down after taking Barboza's foot to his jaw.

    Barboza's head-kick is Bleacher Report MMA Lead Writer Jeremy Botter's pick to win Knockout of the Year in 2012.

Donald Cerrone

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    So what if the guy has just two career knockouts? That doesn't mean he's unwilling to sling leather like it's going out of style. Nor does it mean he doesn't look good putting his sprawling arsenal of standup tools to use.

    Since joining the UFC back in 2011, Cerrone has compiled three Fight of the Night awards and two Knockout of the Night awards.

    He's also the proud owner of a Submission of the Night award, but that's a bit off topic here.

    Cerrone lacks the power to be an elite striker in MMA, but not to be an exciting or flashy one. His quickness, aggressiveness and versatility have led his striking game to be something of a spectacle, one that fans can hardly seem to get enough of.

    Cerrone's next bout will come against fellow WEC veteran Anthony Pettis, in what could end up being a Fight of the Year candidate for 2013.

Dominick Cruz

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    Cruz's style might be more unique than flashy, but it's certain to draw the notice of fans as quickly as anyone else's.

    Though Cruz's repertoire might not include spinning head-kicks or overhead haymakers, his constant direction changes, ridiculous footwork, feints and advance-and-retreat tactics leave onlookers stunned as frequently as his opponents.

    You never really know what's coming next when you watch Cruz fight. It's that unpredictability that makes Cruz's style so pleasing to the eye.

    No, Cruz's style hasn't led him to compile a lengthy reel of highlight knockouts, but it has given him a ride to WEC and UFC bantamweight crowns.

    Check out Cruz implementing his unorthodox style here.

Jon Jones

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    Jones entered mixed martial arts with a wrestling background, but he's quickly developed into one of the sport's better strikers.

    He's also become one of the sport's more flashy strikers.

    The light heavyweight champ is an all-around flamboyant fighter known for attempting off-the-cuff techniques in big fights, which has led to more than a few "oohs" and "aahs" from fans.

    Jones often toys with opponents, keeping them at bay with his otherworldly reach. He has also taken to launching straight kicks at the knees of his opponents, and using elbows in place of jabs. He's also been known to let loose with a spinning technique or two.

Katsunori Kikuno

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    Kikuno has struggled to perform consistently of late, but he remains one of the more entertaining strikers currently operating in The Land of the Rising Sun.

    What makes Kikuno's fighting style flashy is his zombiesque stance and penchant for snapping front kicks to the body as he relentlessly pushes forward. He also likes throwing those kicks upstairs from time to time, which has led to some pretty nice highlights.

    And while Kikuno's kicks are what make him both a deadly and intriguing striker, his punches are nothing to scoff at. Though his hands might not raise eyebrows the same way his feet do, they are still something to behold when let loose, especially when he's got an opponent in danger.

    If you haven't familiarized yourself with Kikuno, a look over the accompanying highlight video is definitely recommended.

Cung Le

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    Le has one of the most unique striking styles in all of MMA. The longtime combat veteran uses his feet to prod at the midsection of his opponents much in the same way fighters with more standard styles jab to the head.

    Le's kick-heavy attack features an array of strikes, from head-kicks snapped straight out from the chamber, to spinning techniques designed to rip away at his opponent's body.

    But, as Le exhibited in his MMA debut against Strikeforce opponent Mike Altman, just because he likes to whip out some insane kicking maneuvers doesn't mean his hands are lacking anything in the way of either speed or power.

    Really anytime Le enters a fighting apparatus of any sort you're bound to get some memories out of it.

    The attached video features action from Le's Sanshou days as well as his more recent MMA contributions.

    Note the flying scissor-kick around the 1:25 mark. It's just ridiculous.

Lyoto Machida

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    Machida's striking style is kind of an enigma because it's greatly understated, yet extremely flashy all at once.

    He can often be seen calmly circling the Octagon, looking entirely disinterested, yet as soon as his opponent makes any sort of move, it's lights out.

    Always seeming so calm, yet always on the precipice of explosion, Machida's striking style is a thing of beauty. When he unleashes on lulled-to-comfort foes there are few prettier spectacles in the sport of MMA.

    Case in point, Machida's knockout of Ryan Bader

    Machida spent the better part of that bout fighting off a big gaping yawn rather than his opponent, only condescending to engage Bader when he became too frustrated with his inability to mount any sort of offense. 

    Once Bader lost his cool and charged at Machida, it took about half a second for his night to end. 

    That's what you get when you come at MMA's version of a movie Samurai that cuts down a group of enemies within a second of unsheathing his sword.

Anthony Njokuani

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    Opponents rarely give Njokuani the chance to let loose, but when he's given the opportunity, the result is usually pretty spectacular.

    You know, like when Chris Horodecki thought it'd be OK to give Njokuani a little space.

    Or when Muhsin Corbbrey made that same mistake.

    Njokuani is one of the most explosive strikers on the planet, and there aren't many mixed martial artists out there that can make kickboxing look as good as the Nigerian lightweight can.

    Njokuani's game might not be well-rounded enough to get him into serious contention in the UFC's crowded 155-pound weight division, but in terms of pure distanced striking, there aren't many that can compete.

    The accompanying video can attest to that.

Michael Page

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    With four professional fights, there isn't all that much MMA footage of Page for us to draw on. But, there are two things about the Englishman that are quite easily discernible.

    One, he is incredibly confident in his striking ability, as evidenced by the showboating in the attached video. 

    Two, he has good reason to be incredibly confident in his striking ability, as evidenced by his performance in the attached video.

    Those two attributes mixed together just scream flashy. 

    Page, who fights out of London, will look to break onto the North American scene by fighting under the Bellator banner.

Anthony Pettis

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    With a nickname like "Showtime" he better have a little flash to go with his substance.

    Luckily, he does.

    Pettis employs a varied arsenal of strikes, from powerful hooks to lightning-fast head-kicks. And whatever he throws comes both fast and hard.

    There is also the matter of that kick he landed on Ben Henderson when the two squared off in the main event of the WEC's final card.

    You remember it, right? This one, right here.

    There was also that head-kick-and-punches knockout of Joe Lauzon that Pettis scored earlier this year.

    Pettis' next fight is set for January 26, 2013, when he will take on Donald Cerrone in a match that somehow has Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night written all over it. 

    It's just that promising.

Anderson Silva

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    Whether battering Rich Franklin from the Thai clinch, casually sidestepping a spinning back kick from Stephan Bonnar or scoring an unprecedented down the pipe head-kick knockout over Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva has provided countless iconic moments for mixed martial arts fans.

    And while he has had his moments on the ground—sinking in a triangle-choke on Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, for example—most of Silva's highlights have come on the feet.

    The UFC middleweight champion is an unashamed showboat, frequently taunting opponents with his hands before rushing in for the kill.

    He's pretty artistic when it comes to making that kill, too. 

    Rarely can fighters make violence, such as there is in MMA, look like a classic ballet, but Silva's striking is about as close as it comes.

    I guess that makes it flashy....with a lot of depth. 

Stephen Thompson

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    Before making the switch to mixed martial arts, Stephen Thompson was a household name on the kickboxing circuit.

    I guess it's kind of hard to go unnoticed in any sport when you post a 63-0-0 record. 

    Check out Thompson plying his pre-MMA trade here.

    Though Thompson lost his most recent fight to grizzled veteran Matt Brown, the transition to MMA has gone fairly smoothly for Thompson, who currently sports a 6-1 record and fights in the sport's premiere organization.

    And the change in sport has not stopped Thompson from adding to his highlight reel, as evidenced by the knockout he scored in his UFC debut

    The karate stud was expected to compete later this month at UFC 154, but he was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Marius Zaromskis

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    Zaromskis made waves in the MMA world back in 2009 when he won Dream's Welterweight Grand Prix. He gained notice not only for winning the tournament, but for the fashion in which he did it—relentless head-kicking.

    Zaromskis won the tournament's opening round via decision, before he decided that attempting to decapitate his opponents would be less of a hassle than fighting a full two rounds.

    So when Zaromskis was tasked to take on Hayato Sakurai in the tournament semi-finals, he decided to test his new strategy. It worked, and he defeated his Japanese counterpart with a kick to the dome.

    The result was so pleasing to Zaromskis, he decided to do the same thing in the finals against Jason High.

    And even though the tournament ended with the High victory, it didn't mean Zaromskis was done kicking people in the head. On the contrary, his next bout produced a familiar result.

    Oh, and he also landed that somersault kick knockout last November, which is attached for your viewing pleasure.