ONE Championship bans use of soccer kick in fights

MANILA, Philippines – After 5 years of allowing its fighters to use soccer kicks, ONE Championship will no longer permit its competitors to use the move in future matches.

Company chairman Chatri Sityodtong personally announced the prohibition of the technical ground kick, which will take effect in its maiden trip to Macau, China dubbed “Heroes of the World” on Saturday, August 13.

“As of this Macau event, we will not allow soccer kicks to head anymore,” he said in a media scrum on Friday, August 12.

Soccer kicks have been a source of controversy in the sport and were explicitly classified as a foul under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which are embraced by all state athletic commissions in the United States and other organizations worldwide.

The Singapore-based MMA promotion implements an international rule-set, which blends a combination of best combat practices from all over the globe, tolerating soccer kicks, stomps to the body and legs, and knee-strikes to a standing or grounded opponent.

According to a study by Dr. Johnny Benjamin, an American orthopedic spine surgeon, soccer kicks could cause serious injury and could result in broken necks and paralysis if performed with the wrong positioning and high velocity.

However, Sityodtong stated that the removal of soccer kicks in ONE Championship’s rulebook is a measure to ameliorate the sport's image as human cockfighting with some.

“There’s bad publicity. If we really want to go mainstream, people will have to understand that. We have to make certain steps,” he shared.

The Thai businessman stressed that conventional foot-strikes are far more powerful than a single soccer kick in some instances.

“If you look at studies that were done on soccer kicks, it’s the same as a normal head kick because you cannot generate more pivotal force,” Sityodtong pointed. “It’s more of a perception thing. No one has been injured and no one has been in any serious situation from a soccer kick.”

With the banning of soccer kicks, Sityodtong is not worried that the action inside the cage will be limited and less exciting as the organization aims to expand internationally with the help of two big financial firms.

“Everything we are doing, especially with the investment from Temasek (Holdings Pte.) and Heliconia (Capital Management), it has really raised the bar for everything that we do in terms of institutionalization of the sport,” he maintained. – Rappler.com