What were the biggest knockouts of the last decade? Read on for one scribe’s opinion, as the Highly Unofficial Decade Awards continue…
Anderson Silva KO1 Vitor Belfort
Anderson Silva was more amped up than usual for his middleweight title defense against former training partner Vitor Belfort, and he made sure “The Phenom” was aware of his intentions as he knocked him out with a front kick to the face that Silva friend (and action film star) Steven Seagal claimed to have taught him.
John Makdessi KO3 Kyle Watson
One of the most creative standup fighters in the UFC today, John “The Bull” Makdessi showed off a wide array of techniques in his bout against Kyle Watson, but it was his picture-perfect spinning back fist that will live on in highlight films forever, and not just because it ended the bout in the third round, but due to the way Makdessi set it up with a fake that had Watson completely fooled before the final blow landed.
UFC Live 4 – June 2011
Cheick Kongo KO1 Pat Barry
Given some of the disappointments when a striker vs striker matchup turned into a wrestling match, expectations were that Cheick Kongo would take Pat Barry down in their June 2011 bout or that “HD” would even attempt to show off his own ground game against the Frenchman. But thankfully, the two decided to live up to their striking reputations, and what followed was a tense trading of thudding leg kicks until all hell broke loose when Barry sent Kongo to the canvas twice, both times appearing to be seconds away from a stoppage victory. But just when all seemed to be lost for Kongo, he got to his feet, planted them, and then ripped off two right hands. The first one stunned Barry, the second put him on his back, and when referee Dan Miragliotta halted the bout, Kongo had just delivered the most spectacular comeback win since Scott Smith finished Pete Sell in 2006.
Edson Barboza KO3 Terry Etim
In a year with several spectacular knockouts, Edson Barboza’s wheel kick finish of Terry Etim at UFC 142 in January 2012 was far and away the best. It had it all – speed, power, technique, accuracy, and pure “wow” effect. Etim was out the second he got caught by Barboza, and the scary part is that when asked about the finishing kick, the Brazilian Muay Thai expert said, “To be honest, no, I don't train that kick much. I like to train the basic things like body kicks or low kicks. But I’ve known how to do that kick since I was eight years old, when I started training Muay Thai. I think I have been keeping it inside of my mind, and when I need it I throw it out.”
Holly Holm KO2 Ronda Rousey
When Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey with a head kick in the second round of their UFC 193 bout, it had all the elements of a Knockout of the Year. It had stellar technique, it was shocking, it was final, and when you consider that the victim of that finish was the most dominant female fighter in the game, there was no question that this wasn’t just a great knockout for 2015, but for all-time.
Conor McGregor KO1 Jose Aldo
If Conor McGregor’s 13-second finish of Jose Aldo was a video game, we would call it a flawless victory. Getting in and out with frightening precision, a single left hook sent Aldo to the mat in the opening seconds of the most highly-anticipated bout of 2015, and a couple hammerfists later, “The Notorious” one was the undisputed featherweight champion and a man who was about to take us all on a ride we had never seen in mixed martial arts before.
UFC Fight Night – November 2017
Matt Brown KO1 Diego Sanchez
On a card filled with compelling matchups, one most fans were looking forward to matched former Ultimate Fighter standouts Matt Brown and Diego Sanchez against each other. But Brown wasn’t interested in a three-round war with the “Nightmare.” He wanted an early night in what was assumed to be his final trip to the Octagon, and if it was indeed Brown’s last pro MMA fight (it wasn’t), what a way to go out, as he delivered a crushing elbow that ended Sanchez’ night and added another clip to the highlight reel of “The Immortal.”
Francis Ngannou KO1 Alistair Overeem
In a pro MMA career that began in 1999, Alistair Overeem had been stopped via strikes before. But the finality in which Francis Ngannou lowered the boom on “The Demolition Man” was one of those reminders that when heavyweights start throwing hands, there’s no more dangerous place to be in the world of sports than in the Octagon. Ngannou was already a pretty intimidating figure before his December 2017 win over Overeem. But as December 2 turned into December 3, the whole world knew that “The Predator” was one of the scariest dudes on the planet.
UFC Fight Night – November 2018
Yair Rodriguez KO5 Chan Sung Jung
Most knockouts are sudden. Not many are this sudden. But when Yair Rodriguez ended his November 2018 bout against Chan Sung Jung with one second left in the fifth round, it wasn’t just a spectacular end to an instant classic; it was the kind of knockout that required a couple rewinds on the DVR to see what exactly happened. So what happened? A beautifully placed elbow that ended the night of “The Korean Zombie” before he hit the mat.
Amanda Nunes KO1 Cris Cyborg
Amanda Nunes rocked Cris Cyborg early and often in their UFC 232 SuperFight, with the right hand being the weapon of choice for “The Lioness.” When the final blow landed it was clear that the fight was over, and it was a shocker as Cyborg lost for the first time in over 13 years.
Valentina Shevchenko KO2 Jessica Eye
Valentina Shevchenko has been a dominant force since moving to the 125-pound weight class, but while she was favored to defeat Jessica Eye in her first title defense in June, I don’t know if anyone expected to see her finish the challenger with a flush kick to the head that ended the bout immediately and reminded the world just how good “Bullet” is.
Jorge Masvidal KO1 Ben Askren
Five seconds. That’s all it took for Jorge Masvidal to land a flying knee on Ben Askren, add a couple ground strikes that he described as “super necessary,” and put himself in the record books as the owner of the fastest knockout in UFC history. That’s worth a spot here as well.