As realistic fighting games go, Tekken 7 is about mid-tier. It doesn’t have the fire-breathing yogis of Street Fighter V or the guitar-playing witches of purist favourite Guilty Gear X, but it does have an android with chainsaw hands and an exorcist whose fighting style is ‘purification sorcery’. It has more fireballs than Virtua Fighter and less realistic knockouts than the EA UFC series, but it also pulls inspiration from real-life fighting styles as diverse as Russian Sambo, French Savate and Arnis from the Philippines. For a moment, ignore the fact that its roster also includes a giant panda and a space-ninja with a sword: at least some of the moves are technically possible.
‘Sometimes, a fighter goes above and beyond by pulling out a move that has no earthly right to work’
At the same time as in-game fighting is borrowing from the classics, real-life fighting is getting more outlandish. With the basics of a solid mixed martial arts style established – these days, everyone learns a combination of striking, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – fighters are looking elsewhere for an edge by experimenting with moves their opponents will find harder to read. And with a generation of fighters like Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, who grew up gaming, it’s not surprising that MMA is seeing its fair share of Tekken-level finishes. But sometimes, a fighter goes above and beyond by pulling out a move that has no earthly right to work. Here are seven such times:
1. The Giant Swing
For a while, this playground favourite – the finisher to King’s five-throw-combo – was considered too ridiculous even for professional wrestling. It’s recently been reintroduced to the WWE by loveable strongman Cesaro, but even there it’s a novelty move, the main purpose of which is to make the recipient slightly dizzy.
Not so in MMA. Japanese grappler Genki Sudo was an innovator throughout his career – but in a 2000 fight, Sudo used the centrifugal force generated by the swing to open his opponent’s guard and slap on an Achilles lock while the confused man was still wondering if he’d stumbled into a figure-skating contest by mistake.
2. The Capoeira Masterclass
For almost a decade, Capoeiristas bravely suffered the double-humiliation of a) training in a style that’s mostly considered as dancing and b) Eddy Gordo, the Capoeira fighter character in Tekken that everyone considers the button-masher’s favourite. Then Anthony Pettis came along and started throwing moves such as Au Batidos and S-Dobrados in his WEC fights and things got slightly better… and then a legit Capoeira mestre – Marcus "Lelo" Aurelio – decided he was just going to fight like he was mashing a joypad one-handed, and it somehow worked.
First, please warm up with this knockout in which he throws a flawless series of Meia Lua De Compassos, and then enjoy this absolutely ridiculous flying kick fakeout which Eddie Gordo calls a Meia Lua Pulando. Stay tuned for the victory celebration: it’s videogame-tier in itself.
‘Most of Nina Williams’ move-set comes from the sort of wishful thinking you see in an Aikido class’
3. The Flying Heel-Snap
Most of Nina Williams’ move-set comes from the sort of wishful thinking you see in an Aikido class: you grab the other guy’s wrist, apply gentle pressure, and he responds by performing a flawless front somersault into the concrete. Not so the Crab Claw Heel Hold.
These days in MMA, you see, everyone knows how to defend a triangle choke, and there isn’t always time to set up a takedown. When seconds are ticking out on the clock, the highly-trained grappler’s hail mary is to dive feet-first at an opponent, scissor-tackle them to the deck and then rip their ACL apart amid the confusion. Joe Lauzon tried it against Jim Miller, but Ryo Chonan actually managed it against GOAT-contender Anderson Silva, fighting during his pre-UFC run in Pride. Exemplary.
4. The Gravity Brain Buster
A proper suplex is hard to do in MMA: the opposition tend to squirm too much. The German suplex, as performed by Tekken’s King, is the most common – if you can somehow duck under an opponent’s arms to their back or catch them getting up off the floor, there’s a chance you can wrap your arms around them and launch them onto the back of their head.
The Brain Buster, as Tekken’s Bryan Fury styles it, is much more rare: it relies on one fighter being outrageously strong and catching their opponent in a front headlock, from which they carry on charging forward instead of backing out. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Miesha Tate did in her fight with Cat Zingano, and this little beauty is the result.
5. The Rolling Knee-Buster
When Spetsnatz fighter Sergei Dragunov first came to the Tekken series in 2004, the rolling leg-locks of Russian Sambo were a largely hypothetical fighting move: cool in demos, but not that practical. Then Japanese fighter Masakazu Imanari started breaking people’s legs with unorthodox rolling entries to his leg-lock repertoire, and now Ultimate Fighter champ Ryan Hall’s using the ‘Imanari Roll’ (or, as Dragunov calls it, the Reverse Victor Clutch) to leave opponents too fearful to engage.
6. The Unstoppable Kick-Storm
Hwoarang is the kicker’s choice in Tekken: almost any combination of kick buttons ends in a flurry of feet that’s surprisingly tough to block. In MMA, kicking in this style is a rapidly-evolving art: for years, chopping Muay Thai-style shin-thumps were the standard, but now fighters like karate champ Stephen Thompson are using a more bladed, side-on stance and flicking out side-on kicks that are much harder to anticipate. But since you’re here for the ludicrous knockouts, this is the actual winner: a jumping tornado kick from Bellator standout Michael ‘Venom’ Page that’s a highlight reel in itself.
7. The All-Out Assault
‘Forward, forward, forward, kick button’ is the last hope of the desperate Tekken player: it’s a flying jumping kick for almost every character, and it’s almost-unthinkable that it’ll work against anyone but the most naive opponent. And in the heavyweight division of the UFC, where a straight-line leap should be the easiest thing to dodge and counter? Well, former champ Fabricio Werdum’s never minded taking a chance…
WHAT NEXT? The ninth instalment, Tekken 7 is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC, powered by the Unreal 4 engine. Watch the game trailer for a taste of the action.
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