(there’s a few dozen foot stomps and knees to the face of a grounded opponent in this video too, I hope you don’t mind)
Soccer kicks to the face are hypnotic to watch, mainly because they seem so crazy deadly. But are they really as bad as they look? MMA Junkie’s Dr Johnny Benjamin says yes and breaks down some numbers to prove it:
Broken necks (cervical spine fractures) can easily injure the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis and, in some cases, death. Depending on the positioning of the head at impact, direction and magnitude (vector) of the blow, the neck will break (fracture) at roughly 800 to 1,000 foot-pound force (preferred unit is Newtons (N) but I will not bore you with the math).
The average casual adult soccer player can kick a ball with 1,000 foot-pound force. The average professional soccer player can kick at about 1,200 foot-pound force. My educated guess is that an elite, highly trained MMA artist will perform very similar to the professional soccer player.
As we can see, the MMA athlete can very easily generate more than enough force to cause a very significant injury (specifically cervical spine fracture) to a grounded opponent. If the neck luckily is not broken with this crude, unskilled maneuver, the trachea (wind pipe) and carotid artery also lie directly in harm’s way; significant trauma to either can be permanently life-altering.
Based on this, I find it amazing that necks aren’t being snapped left and right on a weekly basis in MMA. The science above implies we should be seeing roughly the same amount of fatalities in a month as your average Jean Claude Van Damme movie. You could make the argument that a soccer kick isn’t all that different from your standard head kick – tell me kickboxers aren’t landing shin to neck at 1200 foot-pound force on a regular basis and I’ll say you don’t watch enough K-1 highlights.
So where are all the broken necks? Is there really that big of a difference between a soccer kick motion and your run of the mill Crocop decapitation? Or is all of MMA extremely dangerous, and we just ban the stuff that makes people go “Wait a second, why is this legal again?”