As 2020 begins, we take a look at some of the memorable knockouts that we have seen in the last decade. While this is not a list of the most vicious knockouts or the most technically perfect knockouts, we feel that these knockouts are all worthy of a special mention.
Johnny Walker vs. Misha Cirkunov
Johnny Walker is one of the biggest prospects in the light heavyweight division. Walker had claimed two quick victories in a short span just before entering into the fight with Misha Cirkunov. These were victories over notable names such as Justin Ledet and Khalil Rountree Jr. When he entered the cage, he was relaxed. He played around in mock confusion as Bruce Buffer announced his name. Walker landed a flying knee on Cirkunov and ended it within a minute of the fight.
Immediately after the fight Walker would fall face first into the mat. This was a celebration gone wrong. We would later learn that Walker injured his shoulder while attempting the celebration, but we already knew that Johnny Walker is one wild dude.
Douglas Lima vs. Michael Venom Page
Going into the fight, the widespread consensus was that Douglas Lima was the toughest opponent that Michael Venom Page (aka MVP) had fought in his career. MVP’s unique fighting style was on display as he faced Lima with his signature side stance. Lima also brought his trademark weapons. In the second round of one of Bellator’s biggest fights of the decade, MVP would continue to press the attack but would be on the receiving end of one of the most beautiful striking sequences in the sport. Lima would land a perfectly placed leg kick which would send the then undefeated MVP falling off balance. He followed this up with a perfectly placed right hand that would render MVP unconscious. MVP’s perfect record would go for a toss. He would later remark that he was glad his first and only loss was to Lima.
Shevchenko vs. Eye
“Bullet” Valentina Shevchenko is one of the most dominant athletes in women’s MMA.
Jessica Eye recognised that she was the underdog going into the fight with Valentina. She played her part in building the fight. Her open workout even saw her take to the mic and lead the crowd in chanting “Woof! Woof!”. As the fight drew closer, Eye’s fan base grew hopeful for the upset. Their courage was bolstered when Amanda Nunes, all time great of WMMA and Bullet Valentina’s greatest rival, told Eye during an episode of Embedded that Bullet “Doesn’t hit that hard.”
It’s unclear what Shevchenko’s reaction was at the time she was watching that video. Perhaps she simply brushed it off, but perhaps it did motivate her for what would happen next.
Bullet exhibited pure dominance during the fight. The highlight of the fight of course was her picture perfect head kick. Eye dropped to the ground like a mannequin. The next few moments were tense to say the least. The doctors checked on Eye as she lay motionless. When she eventually came around, Shevchenko performed a dance routine almost on cue to ease the tension. She had to remind everyone that she is as graceful as she is brutal.
Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
Anderson Silva is a legend of the sport. The fight against Vitor Belfort was one of his marquee moments. In his prime, Silva would beat the best of the best, with perfect counter-punching ability. But performances like the one against Belfort is truly the reason why Silva is regularly featured in the GOAT conversation. Silva and “The Phenom” circled the octagon in the first few minutes. Belfort landed the first strike as the crowd roared. He would throw a few more which Silva dodged with perfect head movement. Out of nowhere, Silva landed a straight kick to the face. Belfort fell to the ground. Silva then finished the job on the ground and soon went to celebrate.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
Pride comes before a fall. As much as Anderson Silva was a legend of the octagon, he too would learn a lesson in humility. At UFC 162, Silva’s head movement was once again on display, as Chris Weidman would throw strike after strike hitting nothing but air. There is no doubt that Silva was really enjoying himself. He was smiling as Weidman threw punches and kicks that missed. He was mocking Weidman with faux wobbliness only to throw a strike which was equal parts taunt and aggression. Weidman’s face betrayed his growing frustration. That was until he connected. The years of discipline and hard work that Weidman had put in finally culminated in one of the most memorable knockouts of the decade.
Weidman would become the first person to defeat Silva in the UFC and as a result rose to prominence in the MMA world. As Joe Rogan would remark “You can’t play games in the octagon.”
Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier
The rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier is widely considered as one of the greatest if not the greatest rivalry that the sport has seen. You would be hard-pressed to find two athletes who are more decorated than Jones and DC. The fight was memorable not just for it’s own sake, but also for the story surrounding it. There were media scuffles between the two. Jones and Cormier once knocked down the UFC backdrop during a faceoff. They exchanged heated words on camera and even said a few things that made a repeatable soundbite.
During the fight, the two accomplished wrestlers kept the fight on the feet for the most part landing strikes and moving a lot within the octagon. While they both had their moments, the fight appeared to be evenly matched for the most part, until Jones landed a perfect headkick which would wobble DC. Jones then landed a shot to the legs but DC was already on the defensive at this point. Jones would chase DC and eventually finish the fight.
The story did not end there. The usually stoic and brave DC broke down in the octagon in a rare display of vulnerability. While being interviewed, Jones looked over at DC and paid him several compliments. A model champion. A model father. He thanked DC for motivating him. He acknowledged DC as his biggest rival.
Unfortunately, the tale continued, this time with an unfortunate plot twist. Jones would test positive for a performance enhancing drug and the win would be overturned. At this point in time it looks exceedingly unlikely that we will see the two face-off once more. The last face-off however has etched itself in UFC history.
Ngannou vs. Overeem
Francis Ngannou is the most powerful puncher in the UFC. So when he was scheduled to face the decorated MMA veteran Alistair Overeem, most expected a few brutal shots to be landed. The fight did not disappoint. Ngannou recorded one of the most memorable knockouts of the decade, when he sent Alistair Overeem flying. It was a quick and brutal affair, with Ngannou landing a devastating blow from below to Overeem’s chin.
This would lead to several memes being created and Daniel Cormier even remarking that they are still looking for Overeem’s head in outer space. Ngannou is currently on a three fight winning streak, finishing the likes of Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes all within one round.
Ngannou suffered a setback against Stipe Miocic. He was also involved in an infamous loss to Derrick Lewis. Ngannou has bounced back from those setback. He is in hot pursuit of another title shot. Doubtless we will see a few more memorable knockouts from him.
Nunes vs. Cyborg
Amanda Nunes is the greatest female mixed martial artist in the world without a doubt. At one time many believed that that title was reserved for Cris Cyborg. Cyborg reigned supreme in the UFC’s women’s featherweight division. She was considered peerless. Nunes changed that when she took her out in 51 seconds.
While a few experts saw this coming, it was an unexpected victory for a number of MMA fans. Former WMMA mainstay Miesha Tate had nothing but praise for Nunes. She specifically noted her power and that she “hits like a truck“.
While Nunes had even beaten the likes of Ronda Rousey in another memorable knockout of just 48 seconds (albeit less flashy where the referee stopped the fight on its feet), the knockout of Cris Cyborg truly cemented her place in the upper echelons of MMA royalty.
For Cyborg, this would be the beginning of the end in her UFC stint. She would go on to face Felicia Spencer in her last fight in the UFC before having a falling out with UFC President Dana White and ultimately leaving for rival Bellator.
Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo
When Conor McGregor set foot in the UFC, he made it known to everyone that he intended to capture UFC gold. It took him only 13 seconds to do so when he faced off against the then reigning featherweight king, Jose Aldo.
McGregor was not shy on the mic in the build up to this highly anticipated bout. And it was more than a mere verbal assault. He tore a picture of Jose Aldo in half in front of a raucous crowd. He had thrown several darts at the picture just before. McGregor even turned around the traditional chant of Tu Vai Morrer back at Aldo. He called Aldo a dead man walking on radio. He picked up Aldo’s belt and taunted him with it at every opportunity. As time wore on, McGregor’s incessant needling began to take a toll on Aldo. Whether McGregor’s technical ability was the reason or whether Aldo was simply too emotional lunging forward and walking right into McGregor’s perfectly timed and precisely placed left hand was the reason, McGregor ended the fight in a speedy manner. After the fight, he was surprisingly sporting and even announced that Aldo and him “deserved to go a bit longer“.
McGregor’s resume has a number of knockout victories, but this is easily his most memorable knockout. In the time after UFC 194, his star power increased manifold and with it, the sport of MMA became a global phenomenon. While McGregor has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons, he has the ability to turn his life around, the same way he has the ability to turn someone’s lights off.
Masvidal vs. Askren
13 seconds is fairly quick for a fight to end, but 5 seconds is even faster. Perhaps no fight has been played back and viewed as many times as the fight between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239.
While the fight itself did not last very long, the build-up to it was tense and filled with anticipation. Askren at the time was undefeated and one of the biggest prospects in the UFC, being the first acquisition ever made in a “trade” between two promoters in the world of MMA. Askren has a very unique style of trash talk. While his confidence cannot be denied, it isn’t as hyperbolic as what one sees from the likes of Colby Covington or Conor McGregor.
Nonetheless, it was clearly sufficient to get under the skin of Jorge Masvidal. Masvidal did not show up at any of the scheduled media events in the buildup to the fight, which only allowed Askren to stay in the spotlight longer. Masvidal did cut one interesting promo, but it was not an official event, it was in the parking lot of a local eatery.
Askren continued to taunt Masvidal up until the fight began. Unfortunately for Askren, the fight ended before the commentators could even finish their sponsor mentions. As much as this was a memorable knockout, it was played ad nauseam on social media in the immediate aftermath. Remarkably, Askren’s popularity only rose after the fight because of the perspective he had on it.
El Pantera vs. Zombie
It ain’t over till it’s over. Rising featherweight contender Chan Sung Jung, also known as the Korean Zombie learnt this lesson the hard way when he faced off against Yair Rodriguez aka El Pantera. Both fighters were flashy and unorthodox.
The fight was a war to say the least. Both fighters had their fair share of moments. Rodriguez threw several leg kicks which did their fair share of damage on Zombie. Zombie countered with relentless forward pressure. Both fighters attempted takedowns, but their wrestling was of an even calibre. Every now and then both fighters found themselves in the clinch and elbows were thrown.
As the fight progressed Rodriguez started throwing more spinning attacks. In the third round he even managed a cartwheel kick. Zombie mixed in a few feints and strikes of his own.
The respect between the fighters was on full display. Rodriguez and the Zombie hugged each other before commencing the final round. Zombie was about to edge out a decision victory. Until the last second. The very last second.
Yair Rodriguez threw an upward elbow while bending forward just as Jung advanced with an aggressive flurry. The timing couldn’t have been better as the elbow struck him. Zombie toppled over and collapsed. At the very last second of the fight.
No one will be surprised if this goes down as the most memorable knockout in history.
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