As we’ve seen countless times in ONE Championship, Muay Thai elbows can instantly change the outcome of a fight – leaving the recipient unable to continue and ringside commentators Michael “The Voice” Schiavello and Mitch “The Dragon” Chilson heaving in awe.
Elbows come in all styles, from the simple to the flashy, and they can be found in sports like kun khmer, mixed martial arts, and, of course, Muay Thai. No matter the discipline, athletes practice these techniques thousands of times on the pads and heavy bags before putting them to use in competition.
Here, we look at five Muay Thai elbow strikes utilized by ONE Championship superstars inside the Circle.
#1 Horizontal Elbow
The horizontal elbow is one of the most commonly used Muay Thai techniques. For instance, it was used to great effect by ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao when he took on Mehdi “Diamond Heart” Zatout.
To perform the maneuver, Nong-O first brought the back of his hand and wrist to the center of his chest. This helped him expose the bone of the elbow on his throwing arm. The mechanics of throwing the horizontal elbow are similar to the mechanics of throwing a straight right, except Nong-O rotated even more through the hips and shoulders.
Notice, as well, that Nong-O’s opposite hand stays glued to his forehead to protect himself from any potentially damaging incoming elbows from his opponent.
#2 Rising Vertical Elbow
The vertical elbow, also known as the uppercut elbow, is another basic Muay Thai attack found in the ONE Circle. The move is mostly used from within the clinch, and it’s a favorite of former ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty.
When Haggerty faced current two-sport World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, he spent much of the five-round fight within the pocket, where he repeatedly slid his right hand to his ear to expose his elbow while trying to tag Sam-A on the face with it.
The strategy worked, as Haggerty earned the gold after five hard-fought rounds of action.
#3 Jutting Elbow
A variation of the rising vertical elbow is the jutting elbow, which fighters use when they are out of range for other elbow attacks. But the technique isn’t only for Thai boxers, as Filipino fighter Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo proved in his mixed martial arts matchup with Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia.
During one exciting sequence, Abelardo used the jutting elbow to counter a left hook from his opponent. He stepped in slightly with his left foot to get into range, lifted his elbow, and then projected it forward, touching Urrutia on the chin.
The jutting elbow is one of the fancier Muay Thai techniques, and that is evident whenever it lands. However, the next elbow strike on our list might be even more sensational.
#4 Spinning Back Elbow
The spinning elbow is one of the more advanced techniques on the list due to the mechanics and timing involved to land the flashy move. And fans were treated to a picture-perfect display when Brown Pinas knocked out Yohann Fairtex Drai.
Pinas set up the spinning elbow by stepping outside of Drai’s left leg with his left foot. He then rotated his left shoulder toward the right side of his body, twisted at the torso, and sent his right elbow into his opponent’s face.
The spinning horizontal or diagonal back elbow may not land cleanly all the time, but when it does, it’s dangerous because it generates so much force. In the process, it often leads to highlight-reel finishes like the one above.
#5 Downward Elbow
The downward elbow works well for competitors who are taller than their opponent, or who happen to catch their rival in a defensive shell, just like when #1-ranked flyweight Muay Thai contender Superlek “The Kicking Machine” Kiatmoo9 faced Rui Botelho.
To execute the downward elbow, Superlek brought his left leg up – as if he was going to throw a push kick – but instead of thrusting the kick forward, he sent his left leg back down and used that as momentum to throw the downward right elbow. At that point, the aim is to strike over or through an opponent’s guard.
And as opposed to blocking a potential elbow attack from Botelho with his left hand, the Thai star extended it out to grab his foe’s head or shoulders. In doing so, he further maximized the effect of the downward elbow technique.