Power Ranking the 10 Most Impressive UFC Finishes of January

Sean SmithAnalyst IJanuary 29, 2012

Power Ranking the 10 Most Impressive UFC Finishes of January

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    We are only one month into 2012, and the UFC has already provided us with some extremely entertaining knockouts and submissions.

    From spinning-heel kicks to a rare calf slicer, UFC fighters have carried the momentum built in 2011 into the new year.

    With three events and January in the books, now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the month that was in UFC fight finishes.

    Here are the top 10 knockouts and submissions thus far in 2012.

10. Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

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    Competing in front of his fellow Brazilians at UFC 142, Vitor Belfort submitted Anthony Johnson with a rear-naked choke in the closing moments of the first round.

    Belfort overcame two takedowns and a badly swollen eye before stuffing a takedown attempt and taking Johnson's back to secure the submission. 

    The submission led to Johnson's release from the UFC, as "Rumble" missed weight badly despite moving up to the middleweight division from 170 pounds.

9. Cub Swanson vs. George Roop

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    After a fairly evenly-matched first round, Cub Swanson turned things up a notch on opponent George Roop at UFC on Fox 2

    By pressing forward and getting inside Roop's long reach, Swanson was able to avoid being countered. About halfway through the round, Swanson rushed at Roop with a jab-overhand right combination. 

    When Swanson's right hand connected, Roop's mouthpiece flew into the air dramatically. Roop fell to the canvas, and Swanson pounced for the finish.

    The win was a very important one for Swanson, who had been defeated in his UFC debut and may have been looking at a release from the UFC with a loss to Roop.

8. Lavar Johnson vs. Joey Beltran

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    Coming off of two straight losses under the Strikeforce banner, Lavar Johnson was probably lucky to even get a shot inside the Octagon.

    However, Johnson made the most of his opportunity by becoming the first fighter to ever knock out the granite-chinned Joey Beltran.

    In his seven fights under the UFC banner, Beltran has shown incredible toughness and the ability to take an outstanding amount of punishment.

    Though, it only took a few huge right uppercuts from Johnson to leave "The Mexicutioner" unconscious on the canvas. 

7. Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft

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    The weakest area of Pat Barry's game has always been his ground game. However, at UFC on FX, Barry avoided multiple early submission attempts by Christian Morecraft.

    Once he returned to his feet, Barry unleashed his kickboxing ability with devastating results. 

    A left hand connected square to the jaw of Morecraft, leaving him on his back to eat a few more punches before referee Herb Dean was able step in and put a stop to the fight.

6. Jim Miller vs. Melvin Guillard

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    Considering that all but one of his 10 career losses have come via submission, Melvin Guillard's loss to Jim Miller due to rear-naked choke wasn't extraordinarily surprising.

    However, Miller's comeback from being rocked early in the fight did make his submission win very impressive.

    With the win, Miller also reclaimed his position as one of the top contenders in the lightweight division and has been scheduled to fight Nate Diaz.

5. Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio

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    Every one of Rousimar Palhares' opponents know they are going to have to defend leg locks heading into their fights with him, so that makes it all the more impressive that "Toquinho" has continued to finish his adversaries with heel hooks.

    At UFC 142, Mike Massenzio became Palhares' latest victim.

    After shooting in for a takedown, Palhares dropped to attack Massenzio's leg. Massenzio was almost instantly forced to tap, giving Palhares his third straight victory. 

4. Nick Denis vs. Joseph Sandoval

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    It is rare for fighters to finish an opponent with standing elbows, but Nick Denis treated fans to a brutal knockout from the clinch against Joseph Sandoval at UFC on FX.

    After picking Sandoval apart with punches early on, Denis locked up and ended the fight with repeated elbows to the face of his opponent.

    The knockout made for quite a UFC debut, and Denis could become a future force to be reckoned with in the bantamweight division.

3. Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes

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    Facing one of the brightest young contenders in the featherweight division, Jose Aldo defended his belt in emphatic fashion at UFC 142 in his home country of Brazil.

    In one swift motion, Aldo defended a takedown and put Chad Mendes' lights out with a perfectly executed knee in the closing second of the first round.

    Overcome with excitement, Aldo rushed out of the Octagon and into the audience. The 145-champion was lifted onto the shoulders of Brazilian fans in one of the more memorable moments in UFC history.

2. Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely

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    On Saturday, Charles Oliveira executed one of the more unique submissions we have seen in the UFC.

    After initially looking for a heel hook, Oliveira transitioned to a calf slicer and forced UFC newcomer, Eric Wisely, to tap.

    In a fight that marked his debut in the featherweight division, Olvieira showed that he will be a dangerous opponent on the ground for any 145-pound fighter.

1. Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim

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    Looking to become a lightweight contender at UFC 142, Edson Barboza met Englishman Terry Etim in what was initially a closely-contested fight.

    However, in the final round, Barboza put Etim away with an incredible spinning heel kick.

    Not only will the knockout most likely be considered on of the best knockouts of 2012, but it might go down as one of the most impressive finishes of all time.