When Are Elbows Pointed In The Wrong Direction?

Written by 5thRound.com Staff
December 8th, 2009

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 a legal and an illegal strike? Casual fans of the UFC are aware that elbows are legal in the Octagon, however there have been certain fights 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 being Kenny Florian, Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz.

The most common position where elbows are thrown is 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 and the fights listed below show the danger and damage of 12-to-6 elbow strikes. So fans, check out some of these fights on YouTube.

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 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. Swimming elbows and forearms can be just as effective and much less dangerous in MMA, and will allow prevent fights from being stopped prematurely.

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