EXCLUSIVE | Alan Jouban explains why side kicks to the knee should be banned in MMA

Alan Jouban

Add UFC welterweight Alan Jouban to the list of fighters who would like to see side kicks to the knee banned in mixed martial arts.

This weekend former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson sat down with BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor where he revealed his desire to see side kicks to the knee being made an illegal strike in mixed martial arts.

“Wonderboy” was on the receiving end of a side kick to the knee from Darren Till last month in Liverpool, a strike which ultimately caused Thompson’s MCL to tear.

“I did finally watch the fight man. Me and my coaches came back and watched the fight.” Thompson told Taylor on Friday evening. “You know, there was one thing that really slowed me down during the fight and that was the side kick to the knee. It caught me just right in the center of the knee in the first or second round. I believe it was the second round if I remember correctly. But yeah man I heard some cracking and popping and it slowed me down tremendously so it was hard for me to move around the way I wanted to. I was also worried that if he hit it again the fight would be over. Not just that but also my career. It would have been devastating to tear my ACL for a second time.”

Stephen Thompson continued:

“You know I tore my MCL in the fight with Till. We did an MRI and thankfully nothing else was damaged. No surgery is required for this injury but I have to give it at least eight weeks to heal properly before I can get back to training.” stated Thompson. “I honestly feel like that strike should be made illegal. It could end somebodies career.”

Darren Till, Stephen Thompson

Perennial UFC welterweight contender Alan Jouban (16-6 MMA), who is coming off a sensational second-round knockout victory over Ben Saunders this past February, is also on board with the idea of banning side kicks to the knee in MMA.

Jouban caught up with BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor earlier today where he shared his opinion on the controversial strike and why it would be smart to have the technique banned under the unified rules of MMA.

“I saw the interview you did with Stephen Thompson the other day and after seeing some of the comments fans were leaving on the article I felt obligated to help educate some people on the subject. So the side kick, or I think a lot of people call it the oblique kick right? Kind of like throwing that side kick to the knee. Regardless of what you want to call it (a side kick or oblique kick), I’ve honestly always been someone who is like if this is what everyone is doing then I am cool with it. I’m not a complainer is I guess what I am getting at. If someone throws that strike at me then I will do my best to defend it. But I just feel like I need to educate fans after reading some of the comments from your article with Thompson.”

Jouban explained both the pros and cons to allowing a side kick to the knee in MMA, but feels that the negatives spawned from the strike far outweigh any positives.

“The reason that this strike should be banned, as I am in agreeance with Stephen Thompson here, is because it is a strike that really doesn’t require much technique. It is something that you can do from way on the outside with a very low risk of getting countered. Unless someone tries to counter you with a straight right hand or something. But normally this is something you’re doing from way on the outside. I mean this is something that Royce Gracie was doing with basically no striking knowledge at all back in the day. He was just using the strike to back people up and keep distance before he would shoot in for a takedown. But the thing is when you weigh the pros and cons of the strike it is really self explanatory. The pros are that you can use the technique to keep your opponent at distance and if you land the strike the right way you may be able to injure your opponents knee and gain a big advantage going forward in the fight. But the cons to this strike are just devastating. You could tear somebodies ACL, which is what happened to Robert Whittaker against Yoel Romero the first time and he was out for a year. Or you could tear someone’s MCL, like what just happened to “Wonderboy” and now he is out for eight weeks or more.”

Alan continued by addressing the fact that he has never heard of anyone leaving an event talking about the ‘highlight reel oblique kick’ that was thrown.

“So now this is a situation where you are having some of the top stars in your sport sidelined for a significant amount of time due to a side kick. It’s not like fans are leaving the arena and being like ‘Damn! Did you see that side kick the knee?’. It’s not like an oblique kick is making the highlight reels man. It is not a move that when people do it that the crowd responds to it with great enthusiasm. You can’t compare a side kick to the knee against a kick to the head or a punch to the face. Where people in the crowd will react to those types of strikes and get excited about it. An oblique kick is merely a range finding technique which carries a high probability of injuring your opponent. The reward is low. Nobody in the crowd is jumping out of their seat after an oblique kick. So I really think it should be taken out of there.”

Jouban finished by suggesting that like other sports have done in recent years, mixed martial arts should consider implementing new rules in order to help protect their sports biggest stars.

“If you compare it to other sports, like other sports that have been around much longer than MMA… They’ve all gotten better. Some people don’t like these new rules, but these sports are making the rules safer so that they can keep their stars in the game, which puts more butts in the stands and more dollars and revenue for the company. It’s the same reason that quarterbacks in the NFL are no longer able to be tackled at the knee. Because Tom Brady tore his ACL and so they changed the rule. Tom Brady is out? That equals lower viewership, lower ratings and less money. That is why the chop block was made illegal. Because it had a high probability of causing injuries to players. Just imagine this, imagine that Conor McGregor got taken out by Khabib due to an oblique kick. Would that be a freaking highlight? The answer is no. People wouldn’t react like ‘oh that was a sick move’, but instead would be disappointed by the result and call it a freak injury. Then Conor would be out for like a year. So like I say, in the end, what is the point of having it? It is not a dope technique, it is a strike that carries with it a high probability of injuring your opponent. If they ban the oblique kicks, then all they are really doing is helping to protect their stars and athletes by keeping them in the game. Which is a smart move. Guys like Rampage Jackson, Robert Whittaker and now Stephen Thompson have all been put on the sidelines because of this technique. That isn’t good and definitely doesn’t help business.”