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Dan Hardy against banning oblique kick, says fighters sign ‘death waiver’ when competing

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UFC Fight Night: Bukauskas v Rountree
Modestas Bukauskas (red gloves) and Khalil Rountree (blue gloves)
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Dan Hardy doesn’t want to see oblique kicks removed from MMA.

During an appearance on Submission Radio, the former UFC analyst was asked what he thought of the technique that led to a gruesome finish in a light heavyweight bout between Khalil Rountree and Modestas Bukauskas this past Saturday at UFC Vegas 36.

In the second round of a fight that Rountree was winning, he caught Bukauskas with a perfectly-timed oblique kick just as the Lithuanian fighter was stepping towards him. Bukauskas dropped to the mat in pain and the bout was immediately stopped. The finish drew a number of instant reactions from fighters on social media, with several questioning wither the move should be banned from competition.

Others saw no issue with the move, including Bukauskas, who put the onus on himself for not defending against it properly. Hardy is on the side of those saying the move is perfectly fair.

“It shouldn’t be banned,” Hardy said (transcription via Denis Shkuratov). “It’s an effective technique. If we start banning effective techniques, then we’re going to find ourselves with a very, very limited rule set. I think that we need to recognize that it’s an occupational hazard. On football fields, rugby pitches, up and down, around the world on a weekend basis, people are getting their knees destroyed in the same way that Modestas did. It happens very rarely in MMA. Anybody that says it should be banned, have them name three people that it’s happened to, because it’s very difficult to recall any time when it actually happens in MMA.

“It’s the same as knees to the head on the ground as well. For every now and then when they do land, there’s so many times when they don’t. It’s one of those techniques that’s very difficult to land. It’s more beneficial to throw it earlier in the fight when the leg’s a bit dryer and those kind of things, but it’s such a difficult thing to land in the first place, if you can stop a fight with it, then well done. I have no problem with it.”

This is not the first time that the oblique kick has been placed under the microscope by the MMA community. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones utilized the technique with great effectiveness in several of his championship bouts, which drew the ire of opponents and other critics of the maneuver.

Hardy believes that fighters are aware of the risks when they sign the contract for a professional fight, which can involve many techniques that are comparably dangerous to the oblique kick.

“We say it all the time, it’s not a tickling contest,” Hardy continued. “You’re trying to take each other out. A knee injury is the least of your worries in there when you’ve got people throwing elbows and knees and spinning kicks at your head. Like, don’t complain about fighter safety and talk about knee injuries, cause people from all over sports that suffer knee injuries all the time are not complaining. It’s a silly thing to talk about.

“I can’t even believe that it’s been brought up as something that we should consider banning. It fries my brain. Honestly, it does. And the fact that professional fighters would come out and say it, you’re in the wrong sport. You’re doing the wrong thing if you’re concerned about picking up a knee injury. You know what you’re doing when you get in there. You sign a death waiver when you’re stepping in there to fight. Suck it up.”

Hardy compared the oblique kick to a heel hook submission, which he believes causes injuries far more frequently. More broadly, he wonders why critics do not take the same view of dangerous strikes that regularly lead to brain trauma as they do techniques that could cause leg injuries.

“It’s a part of the sport,” Hardy said. “We are literally in there to try and take each other’s head off. You’re not pulling punches. You’re not thinking about what the damage is doing to the person’s brain when you’re kicking them and elbowing them and those kind of things. I would much rather be dealing with a knee injury than a serious concussion. They’re the kind of things that we really have to take into consideration.

“Superficial damage, knee injuries, elbows, those kinds of things, I have no problem with them at all. It’s a part of the sport, it’s a part of the industry, it happens all the time in other sports and fight sports first and foremost is about destroying other human beings. Let’s not water it down and sanitize it, let’s note it for what it is. It’s professional violence and that’s why we love it so much because it’s on the edge of life-threatening.”

Watch Hardy’s appearance on Submission Radio below: