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The Knockouts | 2021 Half-Year Awards

At Just The Halfway Point Of 2021, There Have Already Been Some All-Time KOs

With 22 events in the books, the first half of 2021 is complete for the UFC, and as we await the beginning of the second half of the year to begin with UFC 264 on July 10, we’ll take a look back at the best fighters and performances to grace the Octagon thus far.

Today, it’s the biggest knockouts of the first half of 2021 and how we saw them on fight night:

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5 (tie) – Dustin-Poirier vs Conor McGregor 2

Dustin Poirier | Top Finishes
Dustin Poirier | Top Finishes
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Former interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier made it a point to say in the lead-up to his rematch with Conor McGregor at UFC 257 that six years is a long time, and he was right, as the result of his second go-round with the Irish superstar was quite different than the first one, as he evened the score with a second-round TKO victory.

“I’m happy, but not surprised,” said Poirier, who was stopped in the first round by McGregor in their first bout in September 2014. “I put in the work.”

“Dustin is some fighter,” said McGregor, who made his first start since a win over Donald Cerrone in January 2020. “I need activity. You don’t get away with being inactive in this business.”

Watch It Again On UFC FIGHT PASS

McGregor had success early, as he got in Poirier’s face immediately, yet after a brief exchange, Poirier scored a takedown 30 seconds into the fight. McGregor worked his way back to his feet and the two traded shoulder strikes as they battled in the clinch against the fence. With three minutes left, McGregor was still locked up, but he landed a few knees before breaking free with a little over 90 seconds to go. McGregor scored with a hard right hand that was answered by a hook from Poirier, both proceeding to go back and forth until the horn.

Poirier attacked McGregor’s leg to kick off round two, while McGregor’s punch accuracy continued to impress. Poirier took the shots well and stayed busy, and after stunning McGregor with a left hand against the fence, he unloaded with both hands, ultimately dropping the Irishman with a right hand. Another big right hand followed, and referee Herb Dean stepped in, stopping the fight at 2:32 of round two.

“We’re 1-1,” said Poirier. “Maybe we have to do it again.”

With the win, the No. 2-ranked Poirier moves to 27-6 with 1 NC. The No. 4-ranked McGregor falls to 22-5.

5 (tie) – Terrance McKinney vs Matt Frevola

Terrance McKinney Notches One Of The Fastest KOs In UFC History | UFC 263
Terrance McKinney Notches One Of The Fastest KOs In UFC History | UFC 263
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Eight days after an LFA win, newcomer Terrance McKinney made a spectacular short-notice debut in the Octagon, scoring the fourth fastest finish in UFC history with a seven-second finish of Matt Frevola.

MORE HALF-YEAR AWARDS: The Submissions | The Upsets | The Newcomers

As soon as the two lightweights were waved into battle, they touched gloves and then McKinney landed a quick 1-2 that put Frevola on the canvas. Seconds later, the follow-up barrage brought in referee Jason Herzog to stop the fight at :07 of the opening stanza, making it the fastest finish in UFC lightweight history.

With the win, McKinney moves to 11-3. Frevola falls to 8-3-1.

4 – Rose Namajunas vs Zhang Weili

Rose Namajunas of the United States celebrates after beating Zhang Weili of China during the Women's Strawweight Title bout of UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24 2021 in Jacksonville Florida (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Rose Namajunas of the United States celebrates after beating Zhang Weili of China during the Women's Strawweight Title bout of UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

While being introduced by Bruce Buffer, Rose Namajunas chanted “I’m the best,” to herself, and in 78 seconds, she proved it, as she knocked out Zhang Weili to regain the UFC strawweight title.

After the two fighters moved around the Octagon to get acclimated to the Octagon, Namajunas landed a flush left kick to the head that dropped Zhang hard to the mat. Namjunas went in for the finish and after a couple hammerfists, she got it, with referee Keith Peterson stepping in at 1:18 of round one.

With the win, Namajunas, who first held the 115-pound title from 2017 to 2019, moves to 11-4. Zhang falls to 21-2.

3 – Jiri Prochazka vs Dominick Reyes

2021 Mid-Year Standouts | Fighters You Should Know
2021 Mid-Year Standouts | Fighters You Should Know
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Czech light heavyweight contender Jiri Prochazka made it two UFC wins and two UFC knockouts, as he ended a main event slugfest against two-time title challenger Dominick Reyes with a devastating second-round knockout.

Reyes started strong out of the southpaw stance, seemingly unbothered by the unorthodox stylings of Prochazka, but once the Czech Republic native began finding his range, he was tagging Reyes with hard shots. Reyes slowed his foe’s momentum briefly with a takedown, but once standing, Prochazka continued landing bombs that Reyes had no problem responding to, with each fighter taking bombs in an action-packed first frame.

Watch It Again On UFC FIGHT PASS

Bloodied after taking several hard shots, Reyes didn’t back down in the second round, and just when it seemed like Prochazka was going to pull away, Reyes drilled him with return fire that kept “Denisa” honest. Midway through the round, Reyes hurt Prochazka with a left hand, prompting a takedown attempt that nearly ended the fight when Reyes caught him in a guillotine choke. Prochazka escaped and landed some ground strikes before the two rose, and this time, Prochazka wouldn’t be denied, as he pursued Reyes and landed a right elbow followed by a spinning left elbow that put Reyes down and out, with referee Herb Dean halting the bout at 4:29 of round two.

With the win, the No.5-ranked Prochazka moves to 28-3-1. The No.3-ranked Reyes falls to 12-3.

2 – Cory Sandhagen-Frankie Edgar

Cory Sandhagen Gets Flying Knee Knockout | Fight Night: Overeem vs Volkov
Cory Sandhagen Gets Flying Knee Knockout | Fight Night: Overeem vs Volkov
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Cory Sandhagen earns a first-round knockout at UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs Overeem


In the UFC Fight Night co-main event, Cory Sandhagen delivered a statement to the top of the bantamweight division, as he knocked out Frankie Edgar in the first round.

Edgar’s trademark pressure was in evidence as the bout opened, but with perfect timing, a jumping right knee caught Edgar flush on the jaw, sending him down to the canvas face first. There was no need for any follow-up from Sandhagen, with referee Keith Peterson halting the bout at 28 seconds of the opening round.

With the win, the No. 2-ranked Sandhagen moves to 14-2. The No. 4-ranked Edgar falls to 23-9-1.

1 – Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal

Kamaru Usman of Nigeria punches Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24 2021 in Jacksonville Florida (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Kamaru Usman of Nigeria punches Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

After a decision win over Jorge Masvidal last year, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman ran it back with “Gamebred” in the main event of UFC 261, and this time, he didn’t need the judges to get involved, as a second-round knockout emphatically ended their rivalry.

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Masvidal fired off leg kicks to start the bout, but Usman got the first big shot off, drilling the challenger with a right hand. Masvidal shook off the blow but after a missed knee, he was taken down by the champion. Masvidal stayed busy with elbows from the bottom and he mae it back to his feet with a little over a minute to go. Usman landed a couple more flush shots, answered by a knee at the end of the round.

And while Masvidal was smiling and confident as the second round began, Usman closed the show in devastating fashion, with a crushing right hand that dropped Masvidal to the canvas. A couple follow-up shots later, the bout was over, as referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at the 1:02 mark of round two.

With the win, Usman moves to 19-1 as he successfully defended his title for the fourth time. Masvidal falls to 35-15.

Also receiving votes – Lewis-Blaydes, Barboza-Burgos, Chandler-Hooker

VOTERS – Thomas Gerbasi, Christoph Goessing, Cory Kamerschak, E. Spencer Kyte, Steve Latrell, Zac Pacleb, Gavin Porter