If you’re a fan of combat sports then the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC has a lot to offer. Those who enjoy submission style chess matches, grappling, boxing, karate, and kick boxing are all covered by the athletes that choose to make a name for themselves being the most elite fighters in the world inside an octagonal steel cage.
MMA on the other hand provides fans with an entirely different experience to a boxing match, where there’s a lot more room for more exciting and technical battles than you would find a boxing ring. The debate will rage on forever about which combat sport is the best. In only a few days a UFC champion like Conor McGregor is going to step into the ring with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather in a billion dollar boxing match that fans wouldn’t have thought possible a few short years ago.
The reason why Conor McGregor is so popular isn’t just because of his skills on a microphone, but his ability to knock his opponents out at will. So as much as fans love the technicalities of an MMA contest, everyone loves the prospect of a flash or a technical knockout win. So with that we’ve taken a look at 15 of the best knockouts in UFC history.
15. McGregor Wins the Title In 13 Seconds
When Conor McGregor finally got his shot at the then-pound for pound the best fighter in the world and defending champion, Jose Aldo, at UFC 194 many expected that the brash Irishman would be totally outmatched or at the very least tested to his limits by the Brazilian fighter.
McGregor was neither tested or outmatched, instead, he broke the record for the fastest finish in title fight history. Since the win McGregor skills as a talker and combatant has made him a household name despite never defending the belt once. He’s now set to fight one of the greatest boxers of all time in a super-fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on August the 26th for Mayweather Vs. McGregor, potentially the first billion dollar event in the history of combat.
14. Edson Barboza’s Spinning Wheel Kick
During their bout at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Edson Barboza looked like he was cruising to victory in front of his home country against Terry Etim. Barboza spent the majority of the fight scoring with solid leg kicks which already had him way ahead in the judge’s score cards.
The fight, at this point, wasn’t exactly exciting but it was a clear demonstration of Barboza’s skill as he was easily picking apart and outclassing Etim for nearly three rounds. However, the leg kicks only served to get Etim to drop his guard for a huge spinning heel kick that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. The kick was perfectly timed and had Etim falling down like a plank of wood, and still remains one of the best knockouts in UFC history. You can check out a GIF of the KO here.
13. Rashad Iced The Ice Man
Even though he was quickly rising in the light heavyweight rankings, when Rashad Evans squared up against one of the most devastating strikers in UFC history Chuck Lidell at UFC 88, fans didn’t give him much of a chance at making through the fight conscious let alone be the one that would land one of most memorable knockouts ever seen in the UFC.
Even though Chuck Lidell lost the World title to Quintin Rampage Jackson, he had won the unanimous decision victory in an absolute war with the Wanderlei Silva. It looked hopeful that the “Ice Man” would be on track for another title run, but after his loss to Evans, he lost a further three bouts and retired from the cage permanently. You can check out a GIF of the devastating KO here.
12. Uriah Hall Makes An Impact
Back in 2013 during season 17 an unknown fighter named Uriah Hall made his debut on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality television series and did so in absolutely devastating fashion. Hall was set to face off against fellow competitor Adam Cella for a position in the house and it took him just seconds to land the knockout with a spinning wheel kick that hit so hard it left Cella unconscious for four minutes.
After four straight wins in the TUF house, Hall was the favorite in finals against Kelvin Gastelum, but lost a controversial decision. While there have been some flashes of brilliance from Uriah Hall, he’s suffered three straight losses in his most recent fights, and if he doesn’t win his next fight in a convincing fashion it’s quite possible his career with the UFC will be over for now. Either way, he will always be remembered for this amazing kick.
11. BJ Penn Catches The Muscle Shark
There was a time when “The Prodigy” BJ Penn seemed unbeatable and this was more evident than ever when he defended his UFC lightweight belt against Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas in their grudge match at UFC 84.
Penn dominated the three round by keeping the fight on the and stuffing the powerful wrestler’s take down attempts. Penn peppered Sherk’s face with stiff jabs and counter punches throughout until he finally landed a running/flying knee to the exhausted wrestler’s face, and landed a flurry of hard punches until the referee finally stepped in. You can take a quick look at that devastating knee to the face in the GIF.
10. Anderson Silva Gave Rich Franklin an Unwanted Nose Job
After destroying Chris Leben in his first match for the UFC during the Ultimate Fight Night 5 event in just 49 seconds of the first round, the UFC held an online poll for their website asking fans who Anderson Silva should fight next. Despite having only one victory with the company the majority of the fans voted that Silva should fight the UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin for the undisputed championship.
So in response, the UFC set up a title bout between the two at UFC 64 in October 2006. Silva easily defeated Franklin by laying into him with a barrage of knees within the Muay Thai-clinch, to the body and the face, eventually breaking Franklin’s nose. The beating continued until the referee called a stop to the fight at 49 seconds of the first round. The brutality of the finish by Anderson Silva can be watched here on this GIF.
9. Matt Hughes hits a WWE Style Running Powerbomb
Hall of Famer Matt Hughes was one of the most dominant welterweight champions in the 2000s and his reign was bullet pointed by the fashion in which he won the belt from the defending champion at the time Carlos Newton at UFC 34: High Voltage in 2001.
During the bout, it looked like it was all over for Matt Hughes after he was trapped in Carlos Newton’s triangle choke. Instead, Hughes powered up Newton and ran with him to the other side of the cage, slamming him to the mat, and causing him to lose consciousness. Hughes later confirmed that the reason he dropped Newton was that he himself was “out” due to the triangle choke. Nevertheless, it remains one of the greatest knockouts in the history of the UFC.
8. Lyoto Machida is The Karate Kid
For every Martial Arts purist that ever claimed that the Crane Kick in the Karate Kid movie wouldn’t work in a real life situation, Lyoto Machida proved them all wrong when he knocked out the Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 129.
After a dominant first round for Machida, he began the second round throwing combinations and foiling every one of Randy Couture’s take down attempts. Machida landed the brutal flying front kick at 1:05 of the second round knocking out the MMA legend. After the fight, Machida credited his father and on screen Martial Arts legend Steven Seagal for teaching him the move.
7. “The Phenom” chops down the “Axe Murderer”
With 15 first-round finishes “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort is one of the most ferocious fighters to ever step into the Octagon. This was never more evident when he faced fellow Brazillian and future Pride champion, the equally ferocious “The Axe Murder” Wanderlei Silva at UFC 17.5.
After a short exchange, the two combatants would meet right in the center of the Octagon. However, it isn’t long before Vitor throws a flurry of combination punches at incredible speed, driving Silva all backward into the cage forcing the referee to stop the fight at 0.44 seconds of the first round. Vitor’s speed and killer instinct can be seen in this GIF.
6. Nate Quarry Becomes a Highlight Reel
Nate Quarry made his UFC debut on The Ultimate Fighter finale card, he was originally a participant in the reality show but was replaced due to an ankle injury. After winning his first two fights by first round stoppages he became the first Ultimate Fighter contestant to ever receive a shot at the UFC championship.
Unfortunately, for Nate Quarry, he was going up against the then-UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin who made Nate Quarry into a highlight reel for the opening credits of every major UFC event for years after. Franklin hit Quarry with one of the most brutal one punch knockouts that should be seen to be believed.
5. Overeem Tamed The Beast Brock Lesnar
When Brock first emerged on to the MMA scene as a former professional wrestler, many UFC fans wanted him to fail. But that didn’t stop him from avenging a loss against Frank Mir, taking the title from Randy Couture, and successfully defending the belt against another massive heavyweight and the then-interim heavyweight champ, Shane Carwin. However, his run was hit by surgery for diverticulitis, and he lost the belt to Cain Velasquez and then in brutal fashion to the kick boxer Alistair Overeem.
It was obvious that Lesnar wasn’t the same fighter from the moment the two fighters touched gloves. Overeem kept the fight standing and Brock didn’t seem strong enough to take the kickboxer down. Capitalizing, “The Reem” kicked Lesnar with a massive kick to the body and the fight was all over. The finish – which can be seen here – seems extra brutal knowing how much pain Brock Lesnar was already in before the fight.
4. Gabriele Gonzaga Beats Cro Cop At his Own Game
When the UFC first acquired what many media outlets and hardcore MMA fans believed was the number two competitor in the world – behind Fedor Emelianko – most expected (and hoped) Mirko Cro Cop to tear through the heavyweight division, easily win the belt, and eventually bring in Fedor to challenge him.
Unfortunately, all those expectations were derailed after taking on Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70. Not only did Cro Cop lose in an upset that shocked the MMA world, but he lost to the very same head-kick that won him so many victories worldwide. Granted, the kick was sloppy in comparison to a typical Cro Cop kick but it was enough to leave the Croatian in a heap and unconscious on the canvas. Cro Cop at least got the chance to avenge the loss by knocking out Gonzaga almost exactly 8 years later.
3. Holly Holm Breaks Ronda Rousey’s aura of invincibility
Even though many could argue that it was Gina Carano that helped pioneer women’s mixed martial arts, it was Ronda Rousey’s association with the UFC and her dominance as the women’s bantamweight champion that took it to mainstream audiences.
From the time when she was announced as the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion in 2012, Rousey dominated the division with a string of fast finishes, like a record-breaking 14-second submission win over Cat Zingano. She seemed unstoppable.
However, that aura of invincibility came crashing down when she faced Holly Holm in the main event of UFC 193. Rousey was unable to take Holm down and was totally outmatched on the feet. Holm would end Rousey’s 3-year reign as the champion with a kick to the neck and face early in the second round.
2. Jon Jones Ends His Rivalry With Cormier
The rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier isn’t just born of the fact that they are two of the absolute best fighters in a very talented light heavyweight division, but they had very legitimate animosity towards each other.
Their pre-fight weigh-ins and press conferences were some of the most memorable in the UFC and even resulted in both Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier receiving fines and orders to perform several hours of community service from the Nevada Athletic Commission after brawling during a media event.
The championship battles between the two fighters were the closest that MMA has come to having a Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier type rivalry. However, that rivalry was put to rest after an entertaining contest between the fighters. Jones would eventually send Cormier reeling with a hard head kick before finishing him off with a barrage of punches against the cage at UFC 214.
1. Bisping Gets Flattened with the H-Bomb
Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping developed something of a rivalry as opposing coaches on season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. The two were set to face off at UFC 100 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Michael Bisping’s usual stick and move style of kick boxing didn’t seem to be having much effect on Henderson. Bisping also made the mistake of circling right into Dan Henderson’s famous right hook nicknamed the H-Bomb and fell victim to one of the most devastating knockouts of all time.
Michael Bisping would avenge his loss against a 46-year-old Dan Henderson via a unanimous decision at UFC 204, but not before being saved by the bell after getting hit with the H-Bomb.
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