Many of the top knockouts came from the lightweight division. That shouldn’t be too surprising, even if their not considered in having the most prominent knockout artists. They have the most talent in their respective division and fighters that consistently look to evolve. Here are the top five knockouts from 2014 and a few honorable mentions that deserve recognition.
1.Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway- TUF China
Through September of 2008 to March of 2013, Dong Hyun Kim won all of his fights by decision. His size and judo background propelled him into overwhelming many of his opponents. Hyun Kim controlled several of his fights on the ground, but losses to Carlos Condit and Demian Maia seemed to have inspired him to be better rounded. Hyun Kim displayed that in his comeback win over Erick Silva by landing a counter right hook that left Silva out cold.
His fight against John Hathaway showed a much different side to him. Whether it was him wanting to put on a show in China or not, Hyun Kim kept waving Hathaway on to attack. It was Diego Sanchez like, although he seemed to be in control. Eventually Hathaway got careless after landing a few short elbows. He went for the same elbow again, which led to Hyun Kim landing a spinning back elbow. The spinning back elbow is a very low percentage strike, yet it couldn’t have been landed more precisely. Hyun Kim lived up to his “Stun-gun” moniker in this encounter. We saw a looser aggressive game plan rather than focusing on utilizing his judo. That propelled him into earning the knockout of the year.
2. Chris Beal vs. Patrick Williams- UFC 172
This knockout tends to go under the radar due to both fighters being relatively unknown. That doesn’t discount the magnitude of how spectacular this knockout was. After being taken down twice in the first round, Chris Beal was able to use his speed and begin to get the better of Patrick Williams. Eventually the fight hit a lull and the crowd began to become restless.
That led to Beal leaping up and landing a perfectly executed flying knee in leaving Williams out cold. It was important for him to take control of the octagon and back Williams against the fence. Most flying knees are effective, when a fighter is helpless in being against the cage. Beal’s speed played a huge factor into flustering Williams into becoming entirely defensive. The flying knee was pure technique that led to his official UFC debut becoming a memorable one. Similar to Hyun-Kim’s knockout, this was a rare low percentage strike that only connects in highlight-reel fashion.
3.Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller- UFC Fight Night 45
It was only a matter of time, before the most active fighter in 2014 was going to make the list. Some may argue that Donald Cerrone’s head kick of Adriano Martins was a more impressive finish. In the end, both head kicks were similar and it was rated off the caliber of the opponent. Jim Miller has always been a fringe top-ten lightweight, along with never being knocked out in his career. There aren’t many fighters that have proven to be more durable than him.
The first round was relatively even before Cerrone’s striking took over. A front kick to the stomach should have ended the fight, but Dan Miragilotta made the incorrect decision. That ended up giving Cerrone the opportunity to make an extra fifty thousand dollars and add another highlight-reel finish to his resume. After consistently going to the body, he eventually had to mix his strikes up to finish off the highly intelligent Miller. A right head kick that had a shin-to-ear connection was the proper way in doing so. With Miller overly defending his body, he had no response in taking a clean head kick from the former kick boxer.
4. Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson- UFC Fight Night 52
Mark Hunt’s infamous uppercut on Roy Nelson was one of the most monumental knockouts in 2014. While most people on the east coast were asleep, I made sure to wake up at five in the morning to see the ultimate “fan-favorite fight”. These are two heavyweights that have uncanny knockout power and insurmountable chins. Both fighters have a strong fan base through each of their memorable knockouts.
The first round was fairly even, as both fighters were looking to counter on a mistake. Eventually the former K1 champion began to utilize his jab in setting up something destructive. While going into the fight, some favored Hunt for having a more diversified striking arsenal. Nelson tends to mainly rely on his overhand right, although he has an underrated left hook as well. The better striker eventually reined supreme, as Hunt used his jab to set up an uppercut that left Nelson face planted. This was another indication that constantly ducking rather than using lateral movement is eventually going to cost you. Even the man with arguably the greatest chin in MMA history couldn’t withstand the power of a clean uppercut. This was the third highlight-reel knockout for the “Super Samoan” in Japan. While his knockouts of Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve were impressive, none of those come close to topping this particular one.
5. Abel Trujillo vs. Jamie Varner- UFC 169
The first fight on pay-per-view in 2014 couldn’t have been more action packed. The slugfest was needed for a New Jersey crowd that had to witness seven consecutive decisions to start off the event. Abel Trujillo and Jamie Varner was the opener that many people expected would deliver. The pace was frantic early on, before a wild scramble led to Varner taking control in a north-south position. After Varner was unable to secure the north-south choke, the wild slugfest on the feet ensued.
This was Trujillo’s first fight on pay-per-view against a battle-tested veteran. You can see that he was nervous early on. He was tagged by a counter right hand, which led to him taking an absurd amount of punishment. At one point, Varner was landing knees in the clinch that Trujillo basically relied on his chin as his defense. Somehow he withstood the punishment and Varner seemed to have worn himself out. After going for a reckless uppercut, Varner let himself far too open. Trujillo landed a counter right hand that ended the fight in an instant. The ending seemed to be something out of an action film. The ending was that dramatic following a wild slugfest. In the end, you can’t leave yourself open against a devastating boxer like Trujillo. On a disappointing night of fights, this fight was one to remember. It was the only time that Varner had ever been knocked out in his career out of 35 fights.
Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins- UFC on Fox 10
If it wasn’t going to be mentioned in the top five, it surely deserves to be mentioned here. The difference with this head kick is that it landed in a shin-to-neck connection. This was a relatively even fight, although Cerrone landed a nice trip to briefly put Martins on his back. This was Cerrone’s fight to lose in the end. A highlight-reel head kick is always a beautiful strike to witness, particularly when it lands clean and the victim falls immediately.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt- UFC 181
While reading a few recent lists, this knockout wasn’t included on many of them. It was surprising to see writers exclude such a crisp knockout. When do you see a 250-pound heavyweight throw a flying knee? Besides Travis Browne and Frank Mir (that ended badly against Brock Lesnar), no heavyweight comes to mind in UFC history. Some may argue that Hunt was a sitting duck, given the circumstances of his dramatic weight cut and the brutal conditions in Mexico. Those are all valid arguments in ruling against it. In the end, Hunt has one of the greatest chins in MMA history and Werdum landed a perfectly timed flying knee. It doesn’t get more jaw-dropping than that.
Daron Cruickshank vs. Mike Rio- UFC on Fox 10
The last knockout tends to be overlooked. Daron Cruickshank will usually be remembered for his shocking knockout of Erik Koch in 2014. What was even more impressive was his knockout of Mike Rio. After being caught in a heel hook position for over a minute, many people wondered if his leg would be affected. Joe Rogan was constantly pointing out that his leg wasn’t supposed to be in such a precarious position for so long. Eventually, he got back up and landed a brilliant spinning heel kick. Cruickshank landed countless punches to finish Rio off in a dramatic ten-second flash. A perfectly executed spinning heel kick always deserves some type of mention, particularly with just 20 seconds left in the round.