Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - When it comes to award time, whether it’s the half-year awards or the end of year honors, there are always categories that will give you fits when trying to narrow things down to the five or ten best. Not the knockout category though; whenever it’s time to choose the best KOs or TKOs, there are always more than enough candidates to pick from, and the winner is almost always clear-cut. So far, 2008 is no exception.
When it comes to award time, whether it’s the half-year awards or the end of year honors, there are always categories that will give you fits when trying to narrow things down to the five or ten best. Not the knockout category though; whenever it’s time to choose the best KOs or TKOs, there are always more than enough candidates to pick from, and the winner is almost always clear-cut. So far, 2008 is no exception.
2008 First-Half Upsets of The Year (including last weekend’s UFC 86 event)
5 – UFC 81 – February 2 – Tim Boetsch TKO1 David Heath
Coming in on short notice and beating David Heath would have been impressive enough, but stopping him in the first round made Tim Boetsch the darling of the MMA message boards after his UFC 81 win. Why? Well, take a fighter who follows Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do philosophy of martial arts, add in power and a desire to finish, and you’ve got an instant fan favorite. Oh yeah, and there was the way Boetsch ended the fight - by throwing Heath to the mat on his head and following up with a series of ground strikes – that instantly stamped ‘The Barbarian’ as a fighter to watch.
4 – UFC Fight Night – April 2 – Anthony Johnson KO1 Tommy Speer
The old adage that ‘speed kills’ was definitely in evidence in Colorado as Anthony Johnson took out Tommy Speer in just 51 seconds. But maybe even more frightening was how ‘Rumble’ rocked Speer with almost every shot he threw before finally lowering the boom. Speer had shown a granite chin and an almost inhuman ability to absorb punishment during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Johnson’s assault made that durability a non-issue almost immediately.
3 –Thiago Alves KO’s Karo Parisyan (UFC Fight Night - April 2) and Matt Hughes (UFC 85 - June 7)
Gotta go two for one when it comes to slot number three because of the similarities of Thiago Alves’ biggest two wins to date. In both cases, Alves walked in as an underdog against seasoned and durable vets, and when both fights were over, he had taken out his opponent with vicious knees that shook up the welterweight division in the process. Previously, Parisyan had only been TKO’ed once (by Sean Sherk on a towel throw) in 30 pro fights; Hughes, twice in 49 fights. Alves took them both out. And while his close range knee on Parisyan was impressive, his flying knee KO of Hughes - in which he led with the right before switching and landing with the left in mid-air – was a thing of beauty.
2 – UFC 84 – May 24 – Wanderlei Silva KO1 Keith Jardine
Given the intricate strategies and sporting aspect of mixed martial arts, it’s easy to forget sometimes that what we’re watching is a fight. The legendary Wanderlei Silva, aptly nicknamed ‘The Axe Murderer’, reminded us at UFC 84 with a ferocious assault that left Keith Jardine staring up at the lights and Silva sitting on top of the Octagon with his arms raised in victory. If you ever imagined what would happen if the Brazilian bomber ever got into a street fight, it would probably resemble something like what happened in Vegas on May 24th.
1 – UFC Fight Night – April 2 – James Irvin KO1 Houston Alexander
Eight seconds. How can you argue with what has to be considered the perfect fight? Look – you come out, throw one punch and win without getting hit. That’s perfection. Plus, James Irvin performed this feat on Houston Alexander with a Superman punch, adding to the aesthetic value of the whole thing. In my eyes, this is the no-brainer for KO of the year thus far, and may only be surpassed if Irvin can do the same thing to Anderson Silva on July 19th.
Honorable mention – Melvin Guillard TKO1 Dennis Siver, Jorge Rivera KO1 Kendall Grove, Wilson Gouveia KO2 Jason Lambert, Marcus Davis KO1 Jess Liaudin, Chris Lytle TKO1 Kyle Bradley, Matt Wiman KO2 Thiago Tavares.
Tomorrow – The Submissions of the Half-Year