The best knockout category is always the most hotly debated, simply because the number of impressive knockouts that take place in the Octagon consistently supersedes the amount of slots on lists like this. But we must carry on, and while there may not be full agreement with the top five knockouts of the first half of 2017, you can’t deny that these were pretty damn good.
There is no science behind picking the best knockouts on these lists. But they all require a jump out of the seat followed by a “Whoa” or “Oh #$%$.” If you get both and the distance is high on the jump, that’s a first-place winner, and that’s exactly why Mike Perry’s finish of Jake Ellenberger in April is here. This battle of welterweight bangers wasn’t expected to go the distance, but I don’t think anyone saw Perry’s elbow coming. Ellenberger certainly didn’t, and he was out on contact. Scary.
The frightening thing about Edson Barboza’s standup attack is not only that a knockout can come at any time, but that the Brazilian fires off these lethal strikes effortlessly and with no tells. Watch the seconds before he finished Beneil Dariush in March, and he might as well be warming up for a jog around the block before Dariush changes levels for a takedown and Barboza jumps up and lands a perfect flying knee to the head. One day, I will look at the entire history of the UFC to see how many lists like this Barboza is on, and I’m guessing that he will one day be viewed as one of the greatest strikers in the promotion’s history.
The world was waiting to see this Holly Holm show up again, and in June, following a series of fights that saw her competitive but not spectacular, she brought spectacular back with a head kick finish of Bethe Correia. It wasn’t just a big win because it snapped a three-fight losing streak for the former women’s bantamweight champ, but because it reminded everyone just how dangerous one of combat sports’ all-time great strikers can be when she’s on her game.
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It has to be disheartening to fight a guy like Marc Diakiese when he’s in a rhythm, confident, and well aware that you won’t be able to stand and trade with him for any length of time. And if he starts smiling, like he did in March against Teemu Packalen, that’s when you need to start looking for the takedown, the exit, or both. Packalen didn’t get that chance though, as Diakiese shot a missile of a right hand at him and stiffened him, with the end coming just 30 seconds into the fight.
Damir Hadzovic made a good impression in his UFC debut in 2016 before being stopped by Mairbek Taisumov, but it took a year before he returned to face Marcin Held in May, and for two rounds, his entire offense had been shut down. He needed a third-round finish to win, and lo and behold, he got it seven seconds into the final frame as he met a Held takedown attempt with a knee, and it was game over. That’s a lesson for you kids – don’t give up.