Cote vs Silva at UFC 90 — Learn How to Prevent Knee Injuries in MMA

If you got a chance to catch UFC 90 and saw Patrick Cote's knee injury when he was fighting the Anderson "Spider" Silva, you were probably disappointed that the 2 warriors didn't get a chance to properly finish what they started.

I sure was. I love getting a chance to watch Silva at work, and I thought Cote showed that he definitely has a chin.

But what I want to talk about is the knee injury that Cote suffered. You could see the shin bone kind of move forward and out laterally when he hurt himself. In some interviews he said that it's an old meniscus, but from the way it looked, I believe that he hurt his ACL. Often with a buckling type injury, it's a ligament that gets damaged.

The ACL functions to stop the shin (tibia/fibula) from sliding forward under the thigh bone (femur), but only when the muscles aren't there to do their job.

Cote also mentioned in interviews that he hurt his knee when he was kicking Silva. This would correspond perfectly with the common mechanism of ACL injury – when a person kicks, their lower leg is being whipped out, and the shin bone will slide forward on the thigh bone if the muscles/ligaments don't oppose the force.

PICTURE it this way: put your right fist up like at the top of a bicep curl, then put your left fist on top of your right fist. When you slide your right fist forward towards the computer screen, that's the movement that the ACL prevents, and that's what happened to Cote's knee.

So the ACL will come into play in a really quick pivot type move, like a running back who cuts hard, or during something unexpected, like getting pushed right before you land from a jump, missing a kick completely or partially.

The ACL will also work to stabilize the joint if the muscles aren't strong enough to do the job, so even if you're expecting the movement or it's a planned movement, like a hard cut in football, if you don't have strong muscles, you can still tear your ACL.

To prevent ACL injuries, you need to make sure your hamstrings and calves (gastroc) are strong and powerful. So exercises like Stiff-leg deadlifts and Swiss ball leg curls are crucial to knee injury prevention. The muscles worked in these exercises do exactly what the ACL does, prevent anterior slide of the lower leg on the upper leg.

You must focus on 2 specific portions of each exercise: the Eccentric phase, and the transition from the Eccentric to Concentric motion.

So for the Stiff-leg deadlift, it would mean controlling the motion to the end range, then quickly changing from lowering to lifting the weight. These exercises are all a part of my MMA Strength and Conditioning program.

You must keep the muscles strong, but even more importantly, powerful. The muscles need to be able to react quickly, so doing exercises such as repetitive, explosive jumps like Lunge jumps and others found in my NRG system complexes will train this quality.

Preventing ACL injuries in MMA requires numerous specific exercises to ensure that the muscles surrounding the knee joint are strong and powerful.

Integrate these exercises into your strength and conditioning program and you can prevent buckling your knee in the middle of a fight.

If you're interested in a complete strength and conditioning program for mixed-martial artists that will prevent injuries and improve your power and conditioning, check out the Ultimate Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program.

Article written by Eric Wong

Eric graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Kinesiology program with Honours and has been active in the Strength and Conditioning field since 2002, specializing in training for maximum performance in mixed-martial arts.

He is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Jeff Joslin, helping prepare Jeff for his last two fights including his UFC debut. Other athletes following his strength and conditioning methods include Rory McDonell, Ray “The Hitman” Penny, and Jack Szatko, among others.

He is the author of the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program, which has elevated the performance of mixed-martial artists around the world. He has also produced the highly popular and successful MMA Ripped Fat Loss Program.

He currently resides in Burlington, Ontario, and can be contacted to hold a clinic for your club or design individual programs for an upcoming fight.