Nate Marquardt, Tarec Saffiedine and the 10 Most Brutal Leg-Kick Performances

Scott HarrisMMA Lead WriterJanuary 15, 2013

Nate Marquardt, Tarec Saffiedine and the 10 Most Brutal Leg-Kick Performances

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    There's nothing else quite like one MMA fighter beating another fighter by way of leg kick.

    It's not glamorous. But it's visceral. You are "chopping him down." When it's effective, you see the damage just like you'd see a broken nose or a facial cut. And you can feel those shots, too. Or at least I can; if you watch a brutal enough leg-kick performance, sometimes you start walking with a sympathy limp. 

    So last Saturday night, when Tarec Saffiedine fed the Hamburglar through a blender and festooned the resulting slurry over Nate Marquardt's thigh to become the final Strikeforce welterweight champ, it got some of us here in the Bleacher Report newsroom thinking about classic leg-kick performances.

    Here's the list that resulted. 

10. Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton Jackson

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    Promotion: UFC
    Date: July 5, 2008

    Though they left Quinton Jackson with a noticeable limp, Forrest Griffin's leg kicks at UFC 86 weren't the most devastating the world has ever seen. Still, they make the list because they essentially won the light heavyweight title that night for Griffin.

9. Elvis Mutapcic vs. Joseph Henle

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    Promotion: Maximum Fighting Championship
    Date: Oct. 26, 2012

    I ran across the second-most-recent entry on this list last week while researching my 2013 MMA prospects list.

    It's a bit hard to watch, as all great leg-kick performances are, but it's still mighty impressive to watch Elvis Mutapcic get a TKO (and the MFC middleweight belt) over Joseph Henle by way of a single leg kick. 

8. Tarec Saffiedine vs. Nate Marquardt

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    Promotion: Strikeforce
    Date: Jan. 12, 2013

    Now for the most recent. Tarec Saffiedine executed his game plan to perfection. He turned Marquardt's leg to purple mush, took home a Strikeforce belt for his mantelpiece and probably punched his ticket to the UFC. Not a bad night's work. 

7. Pedro Rizzo vs. Randy Couture 1

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    Promotion: UFC
    Date: May 4, 2001 

    This one definitely gets extra points for being a kind of lifetime achievement award. Pedro Rizzo was a legendary leg kicker, and this fight with Couture, which ended in a controversial loss for Rizzo, was one of his best UFC performances.

6. Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber

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    Promotion: WEC
    Date: April 24, 2010 

    This list was actually harder to put together than I thought it would be. Exhibit A on that argument is the fact Faber/Aldo only made it to sixth place.

    It's the fight that ensconced Jose Aldo among the best handful of leg kickers right now. As shown in a video from Dave Carmichael, Aldo famously put Urijah Faber on crutches.

    In the video, Faber compares the kicks to being hit with a baseball bat. "That was the first time I've ever really been punished with those," said a humbled Faber.

    It'll be very interesting to watch Aldo throw those against Frankie Edgar. 

5. Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans

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    Promotion: UFC
    Date: Sept. 8, 1995

    Marco Ruas taught Pedro Rizzo about leg kicks. Actually, he taught a lot of people about leg kicks. Actually, he taught a lot of people about a lot of stuff.

    The criminally underrated Vale Tudo pioneer had an iconic show against big Paul Varelans. This is the classic "chopping someone down" treatment, right here.

4. Pat Barry vs. Dan Evensen

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    Promotion: UFC
    Date: Dec. 27, 2008

    Pat Barry and his tree-trunk legs team up for some of the hardest leg kicks out there.

    His most prodigious performance in this phase probably came against Dan Evensen, when he caused Evensen to literally paw at the air in an attempt to tap anyone or anything in order to make the kicks stop. 

3. Thiago Alves vs. Josh Koscheck

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    Promotion: UFC
    Date: Oct. 25, 2008

    Thiago Alves has fallen on hard times. Here's hoping he's remembered for the better times. Meaning the times when he was crushing Josh Koscheck's leg at UFC 90.

2. Melvin Manhoef vs. Robbie Lawler

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    Promotion: Strikeforce
    Date: Jan. 30, 2010

    Melvin Manhoef hits as hard or harder than anybody. That goes for leg kicks, too.

    In this one, Manhoef had Robbie Lawler hobbled. Then, in a Knockout of the Year winner, Lawler scored an unlikely but scintillating knockout. The attack was made all the more spectacular by the fact that he launched it from one leg.  

1. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Hidehiko Yoshida

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    Promotion: Pride
    Date: July 1, 2006

    He's the best kicker in MMA history. No reason to think that doesn't count for leg kicks, too.

    It was the quarterfinals of Pride's 2006 Open-Weight Grand Prix. The one Mirko Cro Cop won. Over about eight minutes, Cro Cop snapped off kick after kick from perfect range, burying them in the judoka's thigh.

    He actually landed so many, and they were so hard, that the kicks eventually cracked Yoshida's femur. That's the largest bone in the body. Good God!

    In any case, bow down to the Leg Kick King.


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