Seeing a fight finished in dramatic fashion is one of the greatest experiences for any fight fan. It’s one of the biggest reasons we all watch the sport.
Seeing a knockout is thrilling, and to a novice MMA fan it may seem like the most brutal way possible to end a fight, but there are plenty of other maneuvers designed to inflict lots more damage. Some maneuvers can even be lethal if the ref doesn’t step in to end the fight.
While it may seem counter-intuitive (just ask Chael Sonnen), getting caught in a choke—even if you think you’ve won 90 percent of the fight—still means you lost.
Here is a list of 15 lethal moves in MMA.
This is a move that isn’t practiced too often in MMA, but when used properly, its stopping power can be tremendous. The kick produces an awesome amount of power that can break ribs or even do some internal damage.
Dennis Siver is out of control with this kick. You can see him do the kick starting at 1:45 on the video, and a few times after that.
I put the crucifix on this list mostly because of how helpless it makes a fighter.
The crucifix can be extremely effective in stopping a fight, and there is no greater highlight reel than Gary Goodrich putting away Paul Herra in the early days of the UFC.
Having both of Herra’s arms tied up, Goodrich slammed elbow after elbow into the side of Herra’s head. It was brutally intense. You can see it at 0:58 on the video.
The kimura is a great submission because it can be applied by a fighter while on their back. The maneuver pulls a fighter's arm up and away from their body and puts immense pressure on the shoulder joint and sometimes the elbow joint.
The americana is very similar to the kimura because they both put pressure on the shoulder and elbow joint. The americana, however, twists a fighter's arm up and away from the body, over the head, rather than behind and over the back.
The heel hook is a form of leg lock that puts a large amount of torque on the heel and knee. It is one of the more dangerous leg locks in MMA because of the amount of damage it can potentially do to a fighter's leg.
Ed Herman just defeated Kyle Noke with a painful looking heel hook. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see Noke’s toes. It should give you an idea of how twisted up Herman got Noke’s leg.
The armbar is a submission that gets used quite a bit in MMA. Once an armbar is locked in, a fighter hyper-extends their opponent's elbow joint until they tap, or they suffer plenty of damage.
When Frank Mir fought Tim Silvia, it was a gruesome reminder of what an armbar can do if a fighter doesn't tap.
Check it out.
The front kick is something that’s relatively new to many fight fans. Very recently, two great fighters have been put away in extremely dramatic fashion with it.
The spinning backfist is awesome!
The first time I saw it, the move blew my mind. It just looks so cool! The most memorable knockout from a spinning backfist was when Shonie Carter defeated Matt Serra with the move back at UFC 31.
However, one of the best I’ve seen recently was when Arthur Guseinov ruthlessly knocked out Tyson Jeffries. Check it out at 1:42 on the video.
The overhand right has provided us with some great knockouts over the years—a big looping punch that can be effective even if the punch is blocked.
Chuck Liddell was great with the overhand right. He was an animal and used it often to set up his victories.
The head kick is pretty much the best knockout fans can get. It’s an insanely lethal way to finish someone, and no one did it better than Mirco Cro Cop.
In his prime, Mirco decimated so many opponents with his stealer kicks that he gave them names! The right kick was named “Hospital” and his left was named “Graveyard.”
Now we’re to the chokes.
Chokes are clearly the most lethal maneuvers in MMA because, if they aren’t stopped in time, they can result in massive brain damage, or even death.
The first of the chokes is the arm triangle choke. Josh Barnett just finished off Sergei Kharitonov with a beautiful arm triangle in the Strikeforce Grand Prix.
A lot of unprepared wrestlers coming into MMA have found themselves on the losing side of a guillotine choke after shooting in for a take down.
The guillotine choke is a great submission that can be pulled off from many different positions. It is a staple choke used in many different forms of martial arts and grappling.
The choke that saved us all from having Chael Sonnen as a middleweight champion. What a glorious choke!
The triangle choke is so dangerous because it can be clasped in from the guard while an opponent is raining down punches.
Once a fighter is in a triangle choke, it is extremely hard to escape, and they only have a small matter of time before everything fades to black.
A fighter giving up their back to an opponent who is well schooled in BJJ almost always spells disaster. The rear naked choke has put away some of the greatest fighters out there, and it will continue to do so for a long time.
This is a great choke because a fighter doesn’t have to use lots of energy squeezing to get it in like they would with many other chokes. Once their arms are in position, all a fighter has to do is bring their shoulder blades together.