Stephen Thompson Reveals the Best Kicker in MMA, and It’s Not Israel Adesanya

Published 05/20/2021, 12:03 PM EDT
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 02: (R-L) Stephen Thompson punches Vicente Luque of Brazil in their welterweight bout during the UFC 244 event at Madison Square Garden on November 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


The UFC has been blessed with multiple elite-level strikers and wrestlers. With each passing year, the crop of superstars just keeps getting better. Stephen Thompson, a legend in his own right, is one of those elite-level strikers.

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‘Wonderboy,’ as he is affectionately known, is a Karate specialist and relies on his striking to win fights. However, the 38-year-old doesn’t like himself among the top kickers in the UFC. In a video uploaded on his YouTube channel, Thompson revealed who he thought was the best kicker in the UFC.

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Wonderboy named several great fighters like Mirko Cro Cop, Zabit, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Israel Adesanya, and Yair Rodriguez. He admired their kicking and called them the best in the business. “These guys are amazing kickers, but who is the number one,” he asked.

He answered his own question and said, “I think it’s Edson Barboza.” Additionally, Thompson explained why he thought so by giving three major reasons.

Speed is one of the main factors for a good kick. Thompson took note of Barboza’s incredible kicking speed for his hypothesis. “Man, this guy is blistering fast. A guy does this kicks over and over and over again but not just over and over and over again. He does it as fast as he can. Speed is important when it comes to being a good kicker,” he said.

Stephen Thompson believes that Edson Barboza’s kicks are hard to see coming.

Thompson said that the second most impressive part about Barboza’s kicking is his lack of a telegraph. A telegraph is any involuntary or voluntary movement of the body which tells your opponent that you’re going to throw the particular kick.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 11: (L-R) Edson Barboza of Brazil punches Makwan Amirkhani of Finland in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on October 11, 2020, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“Edson Barboza’s kicks are hard to see coming because he has very little to no telegraph in those kicks. You don’t know when it’s coming,” Thompson exclaimed. “His leg kicks are blistering fast, no telegraph.

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He admired Barboza a lot and added that because of Barboza’s kicking style; he didn’t need to set his kicks up to fool his opponent. “The guy’s a kicking maniac. One of my all-time favorite fighters and the best kicker in MMA,” he concluded.

Do you agree with Wonderboy? Do you think Edson Barboza is the best kicker in MMA?

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Aniket Awasthi

261 articles

Aniket Awasthi is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. This STEM undergraduate combines an insatiable urge to write with his admiration for MMA and the UFC in general to enhance his journalism. He calls charismatic names like Chael Sonnen and 'The Count' Michael Bisping as his favorite fighters, but he is a great admirer of the rise of Israel Adesanya ever since he fought Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221.

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