We all witnessed the stoppage at the recent TUF 10 finale event when Jon "Bones" Jones squared off against TUF 3 alum Matt "The Hammer" Hamill. But do we all know the slight differences between legal and illegal strike? I believe even casual fans of the UFC are aware that elbows are legal in the Octagon. However there have been certain fight where elbows have been a match ending affair. There is a very slight margin for error when throwing an elbow strike especially a 12 to 6 elbow strike.
Many of the top UFC fighters are famous for throwing match ending elbows some of the most notable are Kenny Florian, Anderson Silva, Tito Ortiz and "Razor" Rob McCullough. Elbows have their root in Muay Thai and are a common weapon in Muay Thai matches. Where the confusion starts is when and where are elbows legal?
The most common positions where elbows are thrown are usually during clinch fighting to break up the action. Elbows are also employed for the use of ground and pound stoppage from the top guard, side control, and mount positions.
The official rules of the UFC state that striking downward using the point of the elbow is illegal. There have been several questionable calls when downward elbows were allowed in MMA matches keep in mind that some were early on in the UFC which were instrumental in creating the current UFC rules. These fights show the danger and damage of 12 to 6 elbow strikes so fans feel free to open your youtube accounts.
1. Gary Goodridge vs Paul Herrera- Gary Goodridge gains rear crucifix position and lands several unanswered blows with downward elbows shattering several bones in Herrera's face.
2. Tony Fryklund vs Anderson Silva- Anderson finishes Fryklund by back elbow using the point of the elbow as a hook instantly separating Tony from his consciousness.
3. Patrick Smith vs Scott Morris- Pat takes down Morris instantly and breaks the hold by dropping downward elbows on the top of Scott's head and then dropping more vicious elbows for the stoppage. Perhaps the worst example of elbows in MMA.
4. Anderson Silva vs Travis Lutter- Anderson locks Travis in a tight triangle position and begins to drop downward elbows to the top of the head for the finish.
5. Jon Jones vs Matt Hamill- Jones gains top mount and in the process of trying to finish Matt he is stopped due to dropping several pointed elbows.
The danger of the pointed strikes is evident in every one of these fights and you can see the huge difference between a swimming elbow strike (side to side motion or swaying motion) and a downward spiking elbow.
The 12 to 6 elbow is much more of a blunt strike rather then a grazing strike. I believe that swimming elbows and forearms can be just as effective and much less dangerous in MMA which will allow us to see the full fight finished rather then an injured fighter and an opponent who did not get to finish the match in the fashion he wished to.