10 highlight reel moves that we've come to associate with certain UFC fighters

Former UFC star Mark Hunt will forever be linked with the "walk-off" knockout.
Former UFC star Mark Hunt will forever be linked with the "walk-off" knockout.
Scott Newman
Modified 22 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

A massive feature of professional wrestling – particularly in WWE – is the idea that each wrestler has his or her own signature finishing move.

In the world of the UFC, finishing moves aren’t exactly as common, but that hasn’t stopped certain strikes or submissions from being intrinsically linked with certain fighters.

With that in mind, here are 10 highlight reel moves that we’ve come to associate with certain UFC fighters.

#1 Showtime Kick – Anthony Pettis

Anthony Pettis
Anthony Pettis' Showtime kick remains memorable a decade on.

Despite Anthony Pettis only using it to its proper effect once, the so-called Showtime Kick is still intrinsically linked with him.

Essentially a kick delivered by running up the side of the cage before springing off it to land the blow, nobody had ever seen a move quite like it when Pettis busted it out at WEC 53 in December 2010 to drop Benson Henderson.

Since then, we’ve seen so-called Showtime Punches, with a fighter using the cage as a springboard, but we’ve never really seen anyone but Pettis deliver this kind of kick.

Pettis is years past his prime now and saw his UFC career come to an end in 2020.

However, Showtime will likely always be remembered for the kick that he gave his name to – even if no other fighter is ever capable of delivering it inside the UFC’s Octagon.

#2 Left High Kick – Mirko Cro Cop

Mirko Cro Cop
Mirko Cro Cop's left high kick became legendary in PRIDE.

In his PRIDE pomp, Mirko Cro Cop had a simple saying that he’d use prior to facing an opponent. It was “right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery."

Was the saying overdramatic? Perhaps. But back then, Cro Cop’s left head kick was easily the most feared strike in all of MMA.

The Croatian Heavyweight was seemingly capable of throwing the strike at any time during a fight, and if it landed, the said fight was usually over.

Victims of Cro Cop’s dreaded left head kick included Igor Vovchanchyn, Alexander Emelianenko, Alberto del Rio and Wanderlei Silva.

And while a handful of fighters were able to survive the strike, by the time he made his way to the UFC in 2007, everyone expected Cro Cop to use the left head kick to win the UFC Heavyweight title.

It didn’t quite work like that, as Gabriel Gonzaga knocked him out in his second UFC fight – ironically with a right head kick, But whenever MMA fans see the left head kick today, it’s impossible not to think of the Croatian.

#3 Superman Punch – Georges St. Pierre

Georges St. Pierre used the Superman punch to devastating effect during his UFC tenure.
Georges St. Pierre used the Superman punch to devastating effect during his UFC tenure.

Georges St. Pierre didn’t invent the Superman punch – that honor belongs to Josh Thomson, who debuted the strike in a WFA fight with Rob McCullough in 2002.

Nor did the great UFC Welterweight champion knock out an opponent with a Superman punch, as Travis Browne and Anthony Pettis were both able to do.

But the Superman punch will always be linked with GSP, who used it with such regularity during his UFC Welterweight title run that it was shocking that none of his opponents could avoid it.

St. Pierre would throw the Superman punch as both a jab and a regular strike, and he used it to wonderful effect against the likes of Matt Serra, BJ Penn and Josh Koscheck.

And when a YouTube video dedicated to St. Pierre’s use of the strike appeared in 2010 – during the pomp of his UFC title reign – it meant that nobody could ever throw the Superman punch without being reminded of GSP.

#4 Von Flue Choke – Ovince St. Preux

Ovince St. Preux has basically made the Von Flue choke his own.
Ovince St. Preux has basically made the Von Flue choke his own.

For those unaware, the Von Flue choke – a shoulder choke made possible by the attacking fighter defending a guillotine attempt – is named after the little-known UFC veteran Jason Von Flue, who fought in the promotion in the mid-2000s.

But since 2014, the Von Flue choke has been so heavily linked with UFC Light Heavyweight contender Ovince St. Preux that some fans believe it should be renamed the Von Preux choke.

Somehow, OSP has managed to use what should be a low-percentage submission to win a total of four UFC bouts, leaving two opponents unconscious.

And to make things even more bizarre, just one more fighter has used a Von Flue choke in the UFC – Alonzo Menifield, who submitted Fabio Cherant with the move after losing his previous fight to – you guessed it – Ovince St. Preux.

Essentially, the first instruction for any fighter looking to face OSP should be simple: don’t attempt a guillotine choke!

#5 Armbar – Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey's armbar seemed unstoppable during her reign as UFC Bantamweight champion.

Along with the rear-naked choke, the straight armbar is perhaps the most commonly used submission in the UFC. Look at the results from any UFC show since 1993, and you’ll probably find an armbar finish on most of them.

However, the submission hold will now forever be linked with a single fighter – former UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

The former Olympic judoka had already made the hold her signature move before she arrived in the UFC in 2013.

Rousey had won six fights in StrikeForce, all with the armbar, and even her three amateur fights had ended in the same way.

And her early UFC career was no different, as she reeled off three wins using the hold, submitting Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano.

Rousey retired in 2016 after suffering the first two losses of her career. And when she moved to WWE in 2018, it came as no surprise to see her bust out her favorite hold as her finishing move there, too.

#6 Counter Right Hook – Sam Alvey

Sam Alvey loves to deploy his favorite strike - the counter-right hook.
Sam Alvey loves to deploy his favorite strike - the counter-right hook.

Smilin Sam Alvey has now been a UFC fighter since his debut in the promotion back in 2014.

He’s never climbed up into title contention, and with a UFC record of 10-10-1, he’s the very definition of a journeyman. However, he does have one thing that makes him special – his counter-right hook.

Simply put, Smilin Sam is deadly if he’s able to land the strike. Some UFC fights have seen him barely throw a strike before uncorking the counter right hook, but when it lands, it can cause some serious damage.

During his UFC tenure, we’ve seen Alvey use the counter-right hook to knock out opponents such as Cezar Ferreira, Dan Kelly and Marcin Prachnio.

And like other moves on this list, every opponent who faces Alvey is well aware that he’ll try to land the strike. It’s just that on many occasions, they can’t do a lot about it.

#7 Spinning Elbow – Jon Jones

Jon Jones
Jon Jones' spinning elbow arguably saved his UFC title reign in 2013.

One of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, Jon Jones has used a number of low-percentage moves during his tenure with the promotion.

However, the one strike that’s most linked with him would have to be the spinning elbow.

Bones debuted the strike in his UFC debut against Andre Gusmao back in 2008 but really opened everyone’s eyes with what it could do when he used it to drop Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94.

Since then, practically every fighter Jones has faced has suffered the effects of this move, which can do damage even when it doesn’t land cleanly.

The best example of this? Jones’ famous 2013 UFC Light Heavyweight title defense against Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones was arguably losing the fight as the rounds ticked away, but when he needed to pull out something special in the fourth round, he did so in the form of his trademark spinning elbow.

The strike landed violently and left Gustafsson on wobbly legs, and another strong round allowed Jones to win the toughest fight of his career. It’s now impossible to see a spinning elbow without thinking of Bones.

#8 Bodyslam - Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes became renowned for his devastating bodyslams during his UFC career.
Matt Hughes became renowned for his devastating bodyslams during his UFC career.

Once thought to be one of those moves only used in pro wrestling, the bodyslam has been a staple of MMA fights for years now, with the likes of Tito Ortiz and Gerald Harris both stopping opponents with them in the UFC.

But no other fighter was capable of slamming a foe quite like former UFC Welterweight champion Matt Hughes.

A standout amateur wrestler with self-confessed “farmer strength,” Hughes would regularly sling his opponent over his shoulder before slamming them to the ground whenever he entered the UFC’s Octagon.

It seemed like no fighter was immune to Hughes’ slams, with Hayato Sakurai, Frank Trigg and Georges St. Pierre all being dumped to the ground by the Illinois native.

Hughes’ most thunderous slam was the one that knocked out Carlos Newton, winning him the UFC Welterweight title. And years later, despite this move now being common, it’ll be forever linked with this UFC legend.

#9 Walk-Off Knockout – Mark Hunt

Mark Hunt delivered a number of walk-off knockouts, including this one on Frank Mir.
Mark Hunt delivered a number of walk-off knockouts, including this one on Frank Mir.

On most occasions, when a UFC fighter knocks their opponent down, they quickly pounce on them and add some violent follow-up strikes to make sure the fight is over.

It often looks barbaric, but the rules of MMA state that a fight is only over when the referee steps in to call it off.

However, legendary Heavyweight Mark Hunt decided to change that by popularizing the “walk-off” knockout.

The Super Samoan would regularly drop his opponent, and sensing that they were unable to continue, refused to follow up – instead simply walking off in celebration.

It was a risky thing to do, particularly as we’d seen fighters somehow recover from all kinds of shots in the UFC.

But Hunt simply knew that once he landed cleanly, his opponent was done. Some of the victims of the Hunt walk-off included Frank Mir, Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson.

And while other fighters have copied the walk-off, nobody has ever really done it quite like Hunt.

#10 Ezekiel Choke – Aleksei Oleinik

Aleksei Oleinik is the only fighter to use an Ezekiel choke in the UFC.
Aleksei Oleinik is the only fighter to use an Ezekiel choke in the UFC.

There’s a reason why we don’t often see the Ezekiel choke used in the UFC. It’s because the hold – which comes from the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – usually requires a gi to pull off.

And in the UFC – unlike Japanese promotions like PRIDE – fighters are not allowed to wear a gi, instead fighting shirtless.

Somehow, though, one fighter has been able to use the Ezekiel choke to submit a foe in the UFC, not just once, but twice – baffling observers in the process.

His name? Aleksei Oleinik.

The Boa Constrictor first used the Ezekiel to submit Viktor Pesta in 2017. A year later, he repeated the feat, submitting Junior Albini with the move in 2018 despite being mounted at the time.

In all honesty, it’s hard even to explain how Oleinik does it. But one thing is for sure: it’s highly unlikely that any other UFC fighter will be linked with this move like the Ukrainian, simply because it’s so difficult to pull off.

Published 22 Apr 2021
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