The most iconic finishes in the sport are the ones fans don’t see often, and these days, it seems like the head kick falls into that category. In general, the head kick deserves its own genre of spotlights because of the many different ways a fighter can execute it, from the traditional front roundhouse head kick to the deep kick.

By virtue of its name, a spinning kick differentiates itself from other, more conventional kicks simply because of the extra movement it requires. The attacker takes a step across their body, distributes their weight, contorts their body in a twisting motion, and releases one leg, depending on the direction in which they spin, to execute the actual kick. This means if the attacker twists left, they will release their left leg, and vice versa for the right leg if they spin to their right.

This kick comes in a variety of different forms in its own right, including the spinning back kick, famously thrown by kickboxing legend Badr Hari against Stefan Leko, the spinning hook kick often connected to Uriah Hall, and more recently connected to Christine Stanley, and the MMA world’s personal favorite, the spinning wheel kick.

When releasing the wheel kick, the idea is for the foot to connect directly with full force onto the opponent’s jawline. If executed corrected, the visual appearance of the kick itself will blend in the ferocity of a roundhouse kick with the flashiness that typically comes with any spinning technique, and the impact of the strike will force the opponent to fold and drop to the floor, but like all knockout shots, the key to executing this technique in an MMA setting lies in the setup.

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort may have scored an incredible kick on Luke Rockhold, and former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos delivered a spinning wheel kick to behold in defeating Mark Hunt at UFC 166, but Edson Barboza’s UFC 142 contest with Terry Etim back in 2012 provides arguably the absolute prime example of this technique’s execution in a sanctioned mixed martial arts contest.

Predominantly a master of leg kick knockouts, Barboza had attempted the spinning wheel kick only once in his UFC career, in a UFC 128 win over Anthony Njokuani. The kick, executed in the dying seconds of the third round of the bout, did not knock Njokuani out, and it definitely showed Barboza as a man that knew exactly how to diversify his striking arsenal.

When Barboza executed the maneuver on Etim, he set it up with a combination that began with a right hand, followed by a left hand, and ended with a right leg kick, which landed with excruciating force on Etim’s left leg. The wheel kick itself, executed almost immediately after the right leg kick with the same right leg, forced Etim to fall like a tree while Barboza walked off.

If you thought his leg kicks were relentless, you must take some time to witness his spinning wheel kick in all of its full regalia.

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.