Have a look at this chap- Zelg Galesic:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e60jtv-Y7fg
highlight reel showing his TKD background.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT3mthJguOo&mode=related&search=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cmukFo1Tdc&mode=related&search=
A couple of wins on Cage Rage, the British UFC, he currently holds the middleweight title.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24oLBGTgCy8&mode=related&search=
And to show I'm always balanced
here is a loss in his debut in Pride. A very close match though, unlike his wins, where he was absolutely dominant.
A few things to notice:
It is true that galesic rarely uses his feet- which is to be expected, as John says, the shin provides a much more powerful striking area, and ensures you are in range, so that if your opponent moves back you will still catch him with the foot.
Galesic's striking skills are obviously brilliant, and you are right John it does take a lot of skill to be that good. However, it takes about the same amount of skill to be a great wrestler, because everybody else is going to be a good wrestler. Galesic is an example of using striking skill to dominate, rather than wrestling skill.
Look at how Galesic exploits the rules of Cage Rage- unless he knows he can finish the fight on the ground, he tries to stand up again when on the top. Just like a wrestler wants to keep a guy on his back, Galesic wants keep his man on his feet. And when his man stays down, Galesic uses his great kicks and punches to keep his man down. Did you see those axe kicks on the ground? That was a great strategy and seemed to work well, particularly in the pride fight, where he managed to get a pretty dominant position after using it.
While kicks can be powerful, kicking itself is often the weakest strategy. How many times have we seen guys attempt to kick and only get taken down for their efforts? Plus, many kicks tend to work primarily against bad, tired or injured fighters.
Well, anyone who fights for more than a minute in a MMA ring is going to be tired. Not only that, but kicks are extremely useful against fighters who have just been caught by a punch. That is why you throw kicks in combination. Also, I think these videos showed that even against decent competition(granted not the world's finest) kciks can be used effectively as part of a winning strategy.
I think John, you are under the misapprehension, that a kicker in a MMA ring will, the moment the bell sounds, try and land his best kick. That's like trying to get a standing submission- it's nearly impossible. Instead you have to get your opponent into a position where that strategy is efective. For submissions, the ground is obviously where you want to be, and in a dominant position. For a kick, you need your opponent on the back foot, recovering from another strike, or reacting to a punching combination. In this context, kicking can be very effective.
Is kicking a NECESSARY part of mma? No. But are submissions a necessary part of mma? Again no. Ground and pound has shown us that Submissions are not always necessary for a fighter in order to win matches. Look at it like this- you are always going to need some striking and grappling skills, but some aspects of those skill sets are optional. Kicking is one of those, and it can indeed be very effective if used coreectly.