The highly unofficial half-year awards season continues with the biggest knockouts of the first half of 2022 and how we saw them on fight night…
5 – Tai Tuivasa vs Derrick Lewis
Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis lived up to the hype in their co-main event, with Tuivasa stopping Houston’s Lewis in the second round in a clash of heavyweight knockout artists.
The early part of the fight was spent in the clinch against the fence until referee Dan Miragliotta separated the two when the action stalled. A brief exchange led to another clinch punctuated by a takedown from Lewis. While there, Lewis landed several hard shots, but Tuivasa took them and fired back as the two rose and went back to the clinch. A Lewis takedown followed with a minute left, but the two rose quickly, staying in the clinch until the horn.
An uppercut by Lewis rattled Tuivasa in the opening minute of round two, and after a brief clinch, the two went swangin’ and bangin’, with a Tuivasa elbow upstairs putting Lewis down and out, with the official time of Dan Miragliotta’s stoppage being 1:40 of the second stanza.
With the win, the No.11-ranked Tuivasa moves to 15-3. The No.3-ranked Lewis falls to 26-9, 1 NC
4 – Ilia Topuria vs Jai Herbert
Ilia Topuria’s lightweight debut got off to a bad start in the first round against Jai Herbert, but he turned things around in the second, halting the Brit in spectacular fashion.
A left kick to the head dropped Topuria 45 seconds into the fight, forcing the Spain product to tie his foe up and try to clear his head. With a little over three minutes to go, Topuria got his takedown, but with 1:30 left, Herbert was back to his feet and stalking his opponent, landing some more hard shots before the end of the frame.
But in the second, Topuria turned things around in a split second, with a flush right hand sending Herbert down and out. The official time of referee Marc Goddard’s stoppage was 1:07 of round two.
Topuria moves to 12-0 with the win. Herbert falls to 11-4.
3 – Molly McCann vs Luana Carolina
Liverpool’s Molly McCann was a clear crowd favorite at the O2 Arena, and with one elbow, she gave the fans even more to cheer about as she knocked out Luana Carolina in the third round.
McCann (12-4) rattled her taller foe in the opening minute and blitzed Carolina (8-3), throwing both hands with reckless abandon. A clinch followed and the Brazilian cleared her head, allowing her to weather the storm. Once separated, McCann kept the pressure on, and another blitz of strikes to the body and head followed with a little over a minute to go, drawing a roar from the crowd.
The fight was on the mat in the second minute of round two, but it was McCann still in control, and though Carolina finally got on the board with her strikes in the closing stages of the frame, a wild takedown by McCann returned momentum to the side of the crowd favorite.
Carolina continued to surge in round three as McCann appeared to tire, but out of nowhere, a spinning back elbow landed flush and, just like that, the fight was over. The official time of referee Dan Movahedi’s stoppage was 1:52 of round three.
2 – Michael Chandler vs Tony Ferguson
Michael Chandler scored one of the most memorable knockouts in recent history, finishing former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson with a front kick in the second round.
A left hand scored a flash knockdown of Chandler late in the first minute of round one, but Chandler stood up swinging haymakers. He landed some shots, but Ferguson returned fire until Chandler scored with a thudding takedown. Ferguson fired off elbows from his back, cutting his foe, but Chandler kept throwing shots from the top position, cutting “El Cucuy.”
The end then came suddenly in round two, with a right front kick landing flush to the jaw and knocking Ferguson out immediately. The official time of referee Jason Herzog’s stoppage was :17 of the second round.
With the win, the No.5-ranked Chandler moves to 23-7. The No.7-ranked Ferguson falls to 26-7.
1 – Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2
The rematch between former strawweight champions Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk wasn’t as epic as their first bout, but it was just as memorable, with a frantic first round followed by a highlight reel knockout by Zhang in the second and Jedrzejczyk announcing her retirement in the Octagon.
Jedrzejczyk was busy from the start, and she had success, prompting a takedown by Zhang in the second minute. While on the mat, Zhang unloaded with her strikes, and while Jedrzejczyk got back to her feet, she was returned to the mat two more times with similar results, as Zhang’s ground strikes were coming in a fast and furious fashion. With under two minutes left, Zhang got the mount position and the punishment continued, as Jedrzejczyk was simply being overpowered. Finally, Jedrzejczyk found daylight and got back to her feet, picking up where she left off before the takedowns, and when the round ended, the crowd erupted.
Zhang opened the second with hard body kicks that kept Jedrzejczyk at bay for a spell, but the Poland native walked through them, intent on getting her own shots in. Jedrzejczyk defended Zhang’s takedown attempt well, but as she subsequently marched forward, Zhang landed a flush spinning backfist that put her down face first, and referee Marc Goddard halted the bout. The official time was 2:28.
The No.2-ranked Zhang moves to 22-3 with the win. The 34-year-old Jedrzejczyk, the second fighter to hold the 115-pound title that she successfully defended five times, retires with a record of 16-5. Zhang defeated Jedrzejczyk via split decision in March 2020.
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