A liver shot is a punch, kick, or knee strike to the right side of the ribcage that damages the liver. Blunt force to the liver can be excruciatingly painful, and an especially effective shot will incapacitate a person. Thus, in combat sports, liver shots often result in technical knockouts (TKOs).
Bas Rutten popularized both the term "liver shot" and the use of this tactic in mixed martial arts.
Notable examples of liver shots in combat sport include:
- Micky Ward knocked out Alfonzo Sanchez with a left hook to the liver in the 7th round of what looked to be a sure defeat for Ward.
- Ricky Hatton knocked out Jose Luis Castillo with a liver shot.
- Bas Rutten repeatedly knocked down Jason DeLucia with liver punches during their 1996 Pancrase fight, rupturing DeLucia's liver and earning a TKO victory.
- Ernesto Hoost hit Mirko CroCop with a left hook to the liver that ended one of their bouts during a K-1 competition. The end result could have also been attributed to a rib injury Mirko sustained in a previous match that night.
- Bas Rutten knocked out Minoru Suzuki with a knee to the liver during a Pancrase fight in 1994.
- Akihiro Gono incapacitated Ivan Salaverry with a spinning back kick to the liver in their 2001 Shooto fight.
- Mirko CroCop earned three TKO victories after severely injuring opponents with liver shots in PRIDE fights: Heath Herring with a kick in 2003, Ibragim Magomedov with a kick in 2005, and Josh Barnett with punches in the 2006 Open-Weight Grand Prix championship fight.
- David Loiseau incapacitated Charles McCarthy with a spinning back kick to the liver in their 2005 UFC fight.
- Pete Sell punched Scott Smith in the liver during their 2006 UFC fight, causing Smith to stumble backwards and double over in pain. Sell then moved forward to finish him, but Smith threw a desperation haymaker that caught Sell and knocked him out. Smith then collapsed to the ground in pain and later struggled to stay upright during the victory announcement.
- Cung Le dropped Sammy Morgan with a liver kick in their 2007 Strikeforce fight, resulting in a TKO.
- Lyoto Machida kneed Tito Ortiz in the liver during their 2008 UFC fight. Ortiz collapsed in obvious pain, and Machida went on to win a unanimous decision.
- Rich Franklin caused Matt Hamill to collapse by kicking him in the liver, resulting in a victory by TKO during their September 9, 2008 bout at UFC 88.
- Antonio Margarito left hooked Kermit Cintron in the liver during their April 12, 2008 fight. Cintron collapsed thus ending the fight with Cintron thrashing on the floor.
- Bernard Hopkins left hooked Oscar De La Hoya on the liver on their September 18, 2004 bout in the middleweight division. Oscar collapsed thus ending the fight with Oscar thrashing on the floor in pain in a 9th round knock out.
- Sam Stout hit Matt Wiman with a brutal liver shot during their April 18, 2009 bout at UFC 97 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- Chad Mendes landed a liver shot on fellow TUF 12 Fighter Cody McKenzie During a bout.The punch dropped Mckenzie and the referee was forced to stop the fight.
- Alistair Overeem dropped Brock Lesnar with a kick to the liver during their UFC 141 bout, resulting in a TKO win for Overeem.
- Anthony Pettis stopped Donald Cerrone with a kick to the liver during their UFC on FOX 7 bout on January 26th, 2013 resulting in a TKO win for Pettis.