What Is A Checked Kick In MMA?

MMA fighter checking a leg kick

When new MMA viewers tune in to watch a fight, they will often hear fight lingo that they don’t understand. One common thing they’ll hear is that a fighter needs to start checking kicks.

We’re going to explain to you exactly what a checked kick is in MMA. Going over where the move was developed and explaining how to properly check leg kicks.

What is a checked kick in MMA? A checked kick is a defensive maneuver, where an MMA fighter blocks a leg kick with their shin. It was adopted from Muay Thai and used often within MMA.

What Martial Art Started Started Checking Kicks

The defensive move of checking kicks comes from the art of Muay Thai. In Muay Thai, fighters throw a wide variety of kicks.

One of the most common and popular is the leg kick. A power kick that can completely devastate an opponent’s legs. Muay Thai practitioners had to develop a way to defend against this kick.

What they developed is what we in English call the check. This is where you block an opponent’s leg kick by turning your shin into their leg.

The shin bone is better equipped to absorb kicks than your leg muscles, because obviously it’s a bone. It’s hard and developed to take more impact than your leg muscles.

Checked Kicks Adopted Into MMA

When the sport of MMA was developed, fighters with a background in Muay Thai brought leg kicks with them. After fighters were getting their legs destroyed with leg kicks, they figured out that they needed to learn checks.

Checking leg kicks have become a must know defensive technique that you must know to be successful in MMA.

What Happens When A Fighter Does Not Check Kicks?

The short answer is severe pain. Failing to check kicks in a fight can devastate a fighter in various ways.

Human legs are not meant to be battered repeatedly with leg kicks. Eventually a fighter’s legs will be black, blue, and purple, and they won’t be able to stand anymore.

Notable MMA Fights Where Checker Were Used 

When a check is properly executed, they will dissuade an opponent from throwing more kicks. Mainly from the danger of damaging their shins. Here are some notable fights where leg checks were properly used.

Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman 

Chris Weidman successfully used leg kicks in his rematch with Anderson Silva. Silva would damage his leg on one of the first leg kick attempts.

Weidman would check the next leg kick by Silva that would shatter his leg. One of the most hideous injuries in MMA history.

Chris Weidman vs Uriah Hall

In Chris Weidman’s last fight against Uriah Hall, he would suffer the same fate as Anderson Silva. Uriah would check the very first kick from Weidman and Chris’s leg shattered.

Notable MMA Fights Where Checks Were NOT Used

When fighters decide to not use leg kicks in their fight, this will lead to drastic consequences. Here are some notable fights, where MMA fighters decided to not check any leg kicks.

Pete Spratt vs Robbie Lawler

At UFC 42, a young fan favorite Robbie Lawler went up against a relatively unknown Pete Spratt. Lawler had already knocked out multiple opponents, but Spratt exposed  flaws in his style.

Robbie was very heavy footed in order to land powerful shots and did not defend leg kicks. Spratt proceeded to evade Lawler’s powerful punches and land nasty leg kicks.

By the second round, Lawler couldn’t stand and was submitted. After the fight, Lawler’s doctor discovered that the leg kicks tore his hip flexor.

Jose Aldo vs Urijah Faber

At WEC 48 in 2010, Jose Aldo faced Urijah Faber for the promotion’s featherweight title. What fight fans would witness was a devastating barrage of leg kicks delivered by Aldo.

For 25 minutes, Aldo would land nonstop kicks to Faber’s left leg on his way to a decision win. After the fight, Faber posted a picture of his left leg after the fight.

His leg was completely purple. Faber was quoted as saying it was the most pain he’d ever felt from fighting.

How to Check a kick in MMA

There’s various techniques for checking leg kicks, but we’re just going to list important details for doing. Read below to see the most important details for checking leg kicks in MMA.

Lift Your Leg Up

The first step for checking a kick is to lift your leg up. Some trainers will tell you to lift it high, while  others will tell you to lift it to a moderate level. To check a leg kick, you only have to lift your leg slightly up. 

Turn Your Leg Out

The first detail to remember when checking kicks is to turn your leg outward. Putting your shin bone in the path of your opponent’s kick.

Which Part of the Shin do I Use?

A very good question and important to know when checking kicks. When you throw a kick, you aim to land with the bottom of your shin.

For a check, you’re actually going to use the top of your shin. This is the strongest part of your shin bone, which makes it the best part to use for checks.. 

Drive Shin Forward

A check isn’t just lifting your leg up and blocking a kick with your shin. To do a good check you drive your shin slightly forward when your opponent throws their leg kick. This bit of force forward to meet your opponent’s shin makes your check extra hard.

Base Foot

Your back foot is your base and it must be planted firmly on the ground when doing leg kicks. If it’s not, the power of an opponent’s kick can throw you off balance and open to follow up strikes.

The Toe Placement Debate

There has been an ongoing debate about how you should hold your toes when checking kicks. One camp believes that your toes should be down and the other thinks your toes should be up.

Toes Down

Those that think your toes should be down when checking kicks think this for two reasons.

The first is because they think pointing your toes up could have a higher possibility of breaking your toes. They also believe by pointing your toes down it covers for surface area.

Toes Up

Then there are those that think you should have your toes up when checking a kick. This group thinks lifting your toes up makes your check stronger. 

The Reality 

The truth is that it doesn’t matter how you hold your toes when checking a kick. You can break your toes whether you hold them up or down and holding them up doesn’t make your check stronger. What is important is that you block the kick.

Always Remember To Check Leg Kicks

Learning to check leg kicks is an important defensive technique that you must know in MMA. Always remember to check leg kicks if you don’t want to have a purple leg like Urijah Faber had.

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Let's Roll BJJ aims to be the leading source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling information and news on the web. Dorian, the owner and editor of Let's Roll BJJ is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and has been training and competing for over 6 years. Apart from being a BJJ geek, Dorian is a software developer by trade, a husband, and a father of two wonderful kids who he's recently began teaching Jiu Jitsu. When he's not training, coding, or writing, you can find him hiking, camping or occasionally binging on video games.


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