Undoubtedly one of the major contributing factors into MMA's popularity is the aspect of finishing an opponent. With smaller gloves and the ground game, a fight can literally end at any moment.
It's one of the features of the sport that has propelled it past boxing for a number of younger adults. Knowing that a fight could end at any instant and not having to watch a long, drawn-out decision is certainly appealing to a younger generation.
A number of fighters have used their ability to finish an opponent to become some of the most popular fighters in today's MMA. Whether it be via KO or submission, all of these fighters have talents to end their opponent's night at any point in a fight.
Anthony Pettis was the last WEC Lightweight champion but is often forgotten when discussing the UFC Lightweight title picture due to the intense rivalry between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard along with new champion Benson Henderson.
Pettis is best known for his "Showtime Kick" that would have KO'd a lesser man. Pettis also won his last fight with a head kick over Joe Lauzon.
The former WEC champion is a one-time Knockout of the Night winner and holds six KO victories in 15 total fights. One forgotten area of Pettis' game is his grappling skills. Pettis has won a Submission of the Night award and also holds six submission victories to match his KO totals.
Widely regarded as one of the best fighters in MMA history, Fedor Emelianenko is also one of the best finishers in the game.
Prior to his three-fight skid in Strikeforce, Emelianenko had won eight straight bouts via KO or submission. Among these wins were two former UFC champions, two Olympic wrestlers and a K-1 champion.
Emelianenko may not be able to keep up with the heavyweights of today but proved he still has the ability to finish an opponent at any moment with his recent KO of Satoshi Ishii.
"The master of the heel hook," Rousimar Palhares is a deadly Brazilian middleweight title contender.
Palhares has used his favorite maneuver in six of his 10 submission victories over the course of his career. The jiu-jitsu ace has also finished two of his last three opponents by submission.
He has won two Submission of the Night honors, one of which was in his last fight, proving Palhares is still a dangerous opponent on the mat.
Wanderlei Silva is in the twilight of his career but is still a dangerous opponent while the fight is on the feet. The much acclaimed "Muay Thai Wrecking Machine" has made a career off removing people from their senses, evident by his 24 KO victories.
Silva hasn't had a great run with the UFC in recent years, but two of his three most recent wins have come via KO. In his win over Michael Bisping, Silva nearly won by TKO as he flattened Bisping to end the final round.
No, Silva isn't the same fighter he once was, but he clearly still has dynamite in his hands and Muay Thai strikes.
Edson Barboza was a darkhorse lightweight title contender prior to his UFC 142 bout with Terry Etim, but that all changed with his beautiful, spinning back kick KO.
Barboza had won his previous two bouts via decision, one of which was a split decision that some fans felt should have went to Ross Pearson. Regardless of the debate, Barboza won Fight of the Night awards for both decision victories.
Outside of those two decision victories, Barboza has not let his opponent hear the final bell, winning eight of his 10 total MMA bouts via KO or submission.
One of the most exciting fighters in MMA history, Urijah Faber is also one of the best at securing a finish. The former WEC champion has won before the final bell in 21 of his 26 wins.
During Faber's run as WEC Featherweight champion, he utilized his powerful wrestling with slick submission skills to become the face of the organization. Faber's preferred method of winning has to be his guillotine choke, with nearly half of his total submission victories coming from the move.
Faber has KO power but often ends up on top of his opponents due to his incredible pace and wrestling ability. He has won Submission of the Night honors three times in his career with his most recent award (and win) over Brian Bowles resulting from a guillotine choke.
Cain Velasquez may be coming off his first professional loss, but the former UFC champion had been dominant up until that point.
Velasquez has finished all of his opponents save for Cheick Kongo at UFC 99. Velasquez uses a fast pace to blend his wrestling with impressive striking for a heavyweight. Opponents know they're in for a rough night both on the feet and on the mat when they face off against Velasquez.
The former UFC champion has won the Knockout of the Night award three times, including his embarrassment of former champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 121.
Travis Browne struggled to put away a durable veteran in Rob Broughton at UFC 135 but still remains one of the best KO artists in the division.
Browne holds nine KO victories in 12 total fights with six of them occurring in under a minute. His most recent KO victory over Stefan Struve will no doubt make it to an Ultimate Knockouts DVD in the future.
Training with Greg Jackson has undoubtedly helped improve Browne's abilities, and he will get the chance to add another finish to his record when he faces Chad Griggs at UFC 145.
Dan Henderson has been a fan favorite for years, and it's not exactly because he's a social butterfly. With an awkward smile at times, "Hendo" has made legions of fans by using his right hand to knock foes unconscious.
When your right hand can legally apply for a trademark, you know you're a knockout artist. Henderson's patented "H-Bomb" has put a number of his opponents to sleep, most notably at UFC 100 against Michael Bisping.
Henderson continues to amaze people by performing at an elite level, but with 13 knockouts to his credit, he's a dangerous striker no matter his age. The challenger-in-waiting for either the 205-pound or 185-pound titles, Henderson has racked up three KO victories in his last four fights, all of them wins.
Stefan Struve is one of the most heralded heavyweight prospects in recent years and also one of the best finishers in MMA.
Struve's massive frame gives him an immediate advantage on the feet. The Dutchman has used this advantage to win by KO in six career victories. It's on the ground where Struve enjoys the biggest advantage, evident by his 15 career submission victories.
His long limbs allow for easier chokes, and 13 of his submission victories have resulted from some form of a choke. Struve seems to stumble every now and then which prevents him from becoming a true contender, but there's no denying he has the ability to finish an opponent at a moment's notice.
One of the most polarizing and exciting fighters in MMA today, Nick Diaz also qualifies as one of the best finishers in the sport.
Diaz's "in your face" style puts a lot of pressure on fighters, and most of the time they tend to crack. Of Diaz's 26 wins, 21 have come before the judges' scorecards are read.
His come-from-behind win against Paul Daley was exciting to say the least, and Diaz is just as versatile on the mat, as evidenced by his submission of Evangelista Santos.
B.J. Penn isn't your typical "rich kid." Penn enjoys a fight and often times can be found right in his opponent's face.
Of course, a fighting spirit isn't enough to be considered one of the all-time greats. Penn has combined amazing jiu-jitsu skills with some of the best boxing skills in all of MMA. Some notable finishes from Penn's illustrious career were the KO's of Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez along with his submission victory over Matt Hughes.
One of the best lightweights of all time, Penn has won Knockout of the Night once and Submission of the Nght twice in his career.
Now that we got that out of the way, we can examine one of the best finishers in the heavyweight division today, Mark Hunt. Believed to be left for dead following six straight losses, Hunt revived his career in 2011.
Hunt finished Chris Tuchscherer via KO, completely embarrassed Ben Rothwell and dropped Cheick Kongo in devastating fashion.
The former K-1 champion has made a career of knocking people out as five of his wins have come by way of knockout.
Coming from a Muay Thai/kickboxing background, one would expect Donald Cerrone to have a number of KO victories to his credit. Cerrone may disappoint at first glance with only one KO win in his career, but check out the submission victories.
Forgetting about Cerrone's ground skills is a problem many of opponents make. Cerrone submitted Paul Kelly in his UFC debut and added another submission victory to his record over Dennis Siver in his most high-profile UFC win.
Among the four victories Cerrone holds inside the Octagon, three have earned him post-fight bonuses, including a Submission of the Night and a Knockout of the Night award.
Although many fans love to discredit the former UFC champion Frank Mir, he remains one of the best finishers in the division.
Mir's defense against strikes and powerful wrestlers has failed him numerous times throughout his career, but there's no questioning his offensive grappling. For those who had any doubts about Mir's ability nowadays, he reaffirmed his position as the top jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC heavyweight division.
The former champion has won Submission of the Night two times, including the breaking of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's arm at UFC 140, and he would have won Knockout of the Night at UFC 119 had he not pissed Dana White off.
The newly-crowned Bellator Featherweight champion, Pat Curran won the title in spectacular fashion against Joe Warren. If you had been watching Curran as of late, you'd expect nothing less from him.
Curran made it to the finals off a deadly head-kick KO of Marlon Sandro back in August of 2011. Prior to that in June, Curran secured a victory with the rare Peruvian neck-tie submission hold.
He does have more than a handful of decision victories on his record but has 10 total finishes with three of his last four fights ending before the final bell.
The younger brother of Nick Diaz, Nate has quickly built his own niche in the UFC.
Nate has spent some time floating around from welterweight to lightweight but finally seems to have found a home at 155 pounds. At lightweight Nate has won two straight and is on the cusp of being "in the mix."
He looked particularly effective against an aging Takanori Gomi, showcasing improved striking with always solid jiu-jitsu and winning the Submission of the Night award.
Of Nate's career 15 total wins, 13 have come by way of KO or submission.
For the fans who doubted Jose Aldo's ability after facing tougher competition, he silenced all those critics with a huge knee to the head of Chad Mendes at UFC 142.
No doubt hindered by a huge weight cut in his first two title defenses inside the Octagon, Aldo didn't look as sharp as most fans predicted. Regardless of his initial showings, Aldo reminded everyone that he's a killer in the cage.
Aldo has 13 total KO victories throughout his career, including a six-fight KO streak that saw the Brazilian become the WEC champion.
Daniel Cormier has transformed his powerful Olympic wrestling credentials into a prominent MMA career. Cormier began his career with six straight finishes, including two submissions from punches.
Cormier appeared to be on the path of a dominant wrestler who could grind out a decision with victories over Jeff Monson and Devin Cole in Strikeforce. He changed all that with a shocking KO over Antonio Silva to secure a place in the Strikeforce Grand Prix finals.
The AKA coach/product has yet to taste defeat and has allowed only two fighters to hear the final bell thus far in his career.
The current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Junior dos Santos has bulldozed much of the competition en route to the title.
Dos Santos made a huge first impression with his UFC debut against Fabricio Werdum, KO'ing the heavyweight contender with a massive uppercut. Since then, dos Santos has KO'd four of his last seven opponents. Another victory over Mirko "Cro Cop" was credited as a submission due to punches.
Twelve of dos Santos' 14 career wins have come before the final bell rang. He has also won Knockout of the Night honors three times during his UFC tenure.
He may be the brunt of jokes for his recent appearances in US promotions, but make no mistake about it, Shinya Aoki is unrivaled in Japan.
Since losing in ugly fashion to Gilbert Melendez in 2010, Aoki has won seven straight bouts with five coming by way of submission. His most infamous submission victory came against Mizuto Hirota in 2009 where he snapped the champion's arm and had one of the best (or worst, depending on your taste) post-fight celebrations in MMA history.
Of Aoki's 30 career victories, 19 have been from submission and one from a KO. Aoki's submission prowess is such that he's often called Tobikan Judan ("Grandmaster of Flying Submissions").
Jon Jones has become one of the biggest superstars under the UFC banner in little over a year. He has done so by becoming one of the most exciting finishers in MMA today.
Jones was unable to secure a finish in his first two UFC bouts but has been on a tear since. Barring his "loss" to Matt Hamill, Jones has finished every one of his opponents in spectacular fashion.
The current UFC Light Heavyweight champion has used a variety of strong ground and pound along with slick submission skills to cement his place on the pound-for-pound list of today. Jones has won both Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night awards only once, but that shouldn't discredit his finishing ability by any means.
His troubles with wrestling are well-noted, but Gegard Mousasi remains one of the best finishers in MMA today.
At one point in time, Mousasi was believed to be the best 205-pounder outside the UFC and certainly had the resume to back those claims. His impressive stoppage victories of Sokoudjou, Renato Sobral, Mark Hunt, Ronaldo Souza and Melvin Manhoef all made us believe "The Dreamcatcher" was set for big things.
A loss to "King Mo" Lawal derailed Mousasi's plans, but he has yet to lose since then. Mousasi owns 18 victories via KO and 10 by way of submission.
They don't call him "The Natural Born Killer" for nothing. Carlos Condit's career could be a KO/submission highlight reel.
Prior to winning the Interim UFC Welterweight title, Condit had rattled off three straight KO wins. One of those wins was an amazing come-from-behind victory over Rory MacDonald, and another was straight out of a video game as he nailed a beautiful flying-knee followed by devastating punches.
Condit has spread the love with his finishes by splitting them equally with 13 knockouts and 13 submission victories throughout his career.
One of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport, Anderson Silva is absolutely deadly once the cage door closes. Possessing powerful Muay Thai strikes with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Silva can end a fight in any position.
Another advantage Silva enjoys over the competition is his reflexes. His bout against Forrest Griffin is a prime example of how "The Spider" can evade an opponent's strikes with ease.
Of Silva's 31 total wins, 24 have come via KO or submission. Silva has also won Knockout of the Night three times and Submission of the Night twice.