10 Elite Kickboxers Who Struggled to Make an Impact in MMA

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UFC Kickboxers

Elite Kickboxers: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015 and 2016 high profile kickboxers Robin van Roosmalen and Rico Verhoeven started competing in MMA. With 2017 finally here, many MMA fans are hoping both guys continue their efforts in MMA.

With that in mind, here at Cage Pages, we thought we’d delve into previous flirtations of elite kickboxers trying their hand at Mixed Martial Arts by looking at the fighters who previously struggled to make an impact in the MMA world.

It’s no secret that many elite kickboxers find it hard to adjust when coming from a prolonged striking background. The little intricacies of the sport are so vast and numerous that many have to alter their whole approach. In turn, they are effectively losing the very aspects that made them successful.

When talking crossover success, we point to a fighter such as Alistair Overeem, who would become a champion in both Kickboxing and MMA. Yet even Overeem has had his fair share of problems in the striking department. His use of the earmuff defense was effective in Kickboxing and 10-ounce gloves, but four-ounce MMA gloves, not so much. Another notable aspect was how he always had a tendency in Kickboxing to shell up against the ropes to block with little-to-no head movement. Another huge no-no in much smaller gloves, especially when opposing a behemoth weighing 230-pounds and upwards.

These two traits alone have accounted for some of Overeem’s most devastating losses and forced Overeem to change tact, to fight smarter and more in line with an MMA striker’s philosophy. Even now, after 17 years in MMA, it took Overeem until December 2014 and a switch to Jackson-Winkeljohn to address these issues and although now they are much improved, they are still apparent.

While Overeem may have bad defensive MMA tendencies which stemmed from a preference to using Kickboxing’s defensive techniques, he is still the most high profile example of a fighter who has garnered success in both MMA and Kickboxing.

Unfortunately, though, as this article’s title eludes to, for every Overeem we have another 10 or 20 fighters who simply could not make that switch.

Here’s our rundown of the best strikers that struggled to make an impact in MMA.

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