Source MMA Junkie : Ask the fight doc Ask the Fight Doc: Why are you so vocal about Roger Huerta's soccer-kick KO?
by Dr. Johnny Benjamin on Jun 25, 2012 at 10:00 am ET
This past weekend, Zorobabel Moreira picked up a win over Roger Huerta at One FC.
The method of the knockout, though, is what really got people talking, including MMAjunkie.com medical columnist Dr. Johnny Benjamin.
In our latest installment of "Ask the Fight Doc," Dr. Benjamin explains why, as a medical professional, he's so against the use of soccer kicks like the one Moreira used on Huerta.
* * * *Doc, I was following you on Twitter over the weekend, and I can't understand why you're so against soccer kicks to the head. PRIDE allowed soccer kicks forever, and I never heard of anyone being seriously injured. So what gives? – "Don't use my real name"
Thanks for following along, and honestly I was surprised that this was such a popular and debated topic. For all those who have no idea where this conversation comes from, a little background color is in order.
Over the weekend, one of my favorite MMA journalists Ariel Helwani (he's no Mauro Ranallo, but that is another conversation all together), sent out a tweet discussing video of a recent vicious soccer kick to the head unleashed on Roger Huerta, formerly of the UFC. I foolishly asked for a link to said video and was quickly obliged by my loyal and technically savvy Twitter family.
What I saw next was difficult to describe adequately.
Huerta obviously had sustained punishment that left him dazed on all fours, and his opponent teed him up for a soccer kick to the head that made me cringe. It appeared that he did his best to punt Huerta's head firmly in the upper mezzanine.
And much to my horror, people, viewers, fans and apparently some fighters loved it!
Hmmm. Why am I, an orthopedic spinal surgeon, against soccer kicks to the head of a grounded opponent? I'll attempt to refrain from excessive personal comment and simply state that the risk of significant catastrophic injury is far too great.
Broken necks (cervical spine fractures) can easily injure the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis and, in some cases, death. Depending on the positioning of the head at impact, direction and magnitude (vector) of the blow, the neck will break (fracture) at roughly 800 to 1,000 foot-pound force (preferred unit is Newtons (N) but I will not bore you with the math).
The average casual adult soccer player can kick a ball with 1,000 foot-pound force. The average professional soccer player can kick at about 1,200 foot-pound force. My educated guess is that an elite, highly trained MMA artist will perform very similar to the professional soccer player.
As we can see, the MMA athlete can very easily generate more than enough force to cause a very significant injury (specifically cervical spine fracture) to a grounded opponent. If the neck luckily is not broken with this crude, unskilled maneuver, the trachea (wind pipe) and carotid artery also lie directly in harm's way; significant trauma to either can be permanently life-altering.
The rationale that it is safe because it has been done before and no one got hurt is faulty on many levels. Just because you may be unaware of anyone being injured doesn't prove that the act is safe. It could merely mean that you are not well-informed, poor documentation was gathered, or we're just lucky no one has been seriously injured yet.
Example No. 1: My uncle won't wear a seatbelt when he drives. He's been driving for 35-plus years and is fine. Does that make not wearing a seatbelt a safe practice – or him just lucky? Example No. 2: Playing Russian roulette with a six-shot revolver and one bullet in the cylinder means that the participant has five chances out of six that he or she will walk away unscathed. Does that make Russian roulette a safe practice?
I am thankful that the Unified Rules of MMA do not allow soccer kicks regardless of the potential fan appeal.