For most fans, exciting knockouts are the sole reason to watch MMA. From the vicious head kicks to overhand rights to flying knees and clinch knees, there is rarely a knockout that isn't fun to watch.
Maybe it's because seeing someone get knocked out helps us live out our angry fantasies vicariously. Maybe it's because a knockout isn't biased, debatable or controversial like many decisions. I don't know. But they are beautiful, and like passing a mangled car wreck, we just can't look away.
This is a list of the 75 best knockouts of the last five years.
These knockouts are listed in chronological order. Because knockouts vary greatly by power, technique and location, there is no fair way to rank them.
Any fight between May 1, 2007 and April 30, 2012 qualifies for this list.
There are a pair of bouts that just missed the five year window, but still deserve recognition. Both fights occurred in April of 2007.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs Mirko Cro Cop: The Ultimate Head Kick KO!
Matt Serra vs Georges St. Pierre: The Ultimate Upset KO!
Rampage Jackson vs Chuck Liddell
Chuck Liddell nearly cleaned up his record entirely by going back and defeating every fighter who had previously bested him, including Jeremy Horn and Randy Couture. The only man left on his list was PRIDE star Quinton Rampage Jackson.
Jackson put a quick kibosh on that idea when he knocked Liddell out in less than two minutes to become the new UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion.
Houston Alexander vs Keith Jardine
After upsetting Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin, Keith Jardine was given a tune-up fight with promotional newcomer Houston Alexander. Jardine would take control early, but was surprised by the tenacity of his opponent.
Alexander quickly turned the tides with vicious uppercuts that buckled Jardine repeatedly. While the Dean of Mean struggled to find his bearings, Alexander continued to uppercut him violently in and out of consciousness.
Ultimate Fight Night 11
Chris Leben vs Terry Martin
Ultimate Fighter stud Chris Leben looked like his career had plateaued back in 2007. Despite starting his UFC career with five straight wins, Leben had lost three of his past four bouts and looked out of shape against Terry Martin.
Clearly losing the fight, things did not look good for the crimson-haired warrior going into the last round. As if summoning the energy for one major punch, Leben laid Martin out with one huge left with little more than a minute left in the fight.
Anderson Silva vs Rich Franklin II
In their first encounter back in 2006, Anderson Silva brutalized then-champion Rich Franklin with heavy use of the Muay Thai plumb.
When their rematch came around in 2007, Franklin was able to defend the technique better, but not well enough to keep his consciousness or regain his championship.
The Ultimate Fighter: Season 7
Matt Riddle vs Dan Simmler
Undoubtedly the most vicious knockout in TUF history, Matt Riddle immediately made a name for himself when he broke his opponent's jaw in the opening round of their elimination round bout.
Riddle made his way into the TUF house and sent his Serra-trained opponent into hiding after delivering a massive hook that left his opponent on the canvas, moaning helplessly like a wounded elk.
Check the link to see this KO
Wanderlei Silva vs Keith Jardine
When Keith Jardine upset Chuck Liddell, fans didn't know what to make of the Dean of Mean. After all, he had previously been massacred by an unknown and then turns around to upset a former champion.
Jardine met a previous Liddell opponent at UFC 84: Wanderlei Silva.
The Axe Murderer wasted no time in dispatching of Jardine, as he knocked out the TUF alum is 34 seconds, leaving him a glass-eyed zombie in the process.
Thiago Alves vs Matt Hughes
When Chuck Liddell had to back out of a scheduled main event at UFC 85, the UFC scrambled to find a suitable PPV headliner. Longtime welterweight champion Matt Hughes came to Zuffa's aid and agreed to face surging contender Thiago Alves on short notice.
He would likely come to regret that decision.
Alves would score the upset by knocking out Hughes with a flying knee that was followed up with punches early in the second round.
Rashad Evans vs Chuck Liddell
This fight was originally scheduled at UFC 85 when Shogun Rua was forced off of the card. When Liddell also found himself injured, the UFC rescheduled Liddell vs Evans for UFC 88.
Rashad Evans officially graduated into contender status when he leveled The Iceman with a thunderous overhand right that sent Liddell out of title contention and into public concern.
Gegard Mousasi vs Ronaldo Souza
Before they were both Strikeforce champions, Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza met in DREAM. While many would expect a bout that features grappling wizards to end with a submission, we were instead treated to a wicked knockout.
Trying to enter his opponent's guard, Souza quickly tried to shoot in on his grounded opponent. At the same moment, Mousasi unleashed a wicked upkick that separated Souza from his senses.
Junior dos Santos vs Fabricio Werdum
In 2008, Fabricio Werdum was widely expected to do great things in the UFC, including an inevitable contendership for the UFC Heavyweight championship.
At UFC 90, Junior dos Santos was not supposed to beat Fabricio Werdum. He definitely wasn't supposed to knock him out in tremendous fashion. But anything can happen in MMA, and that's exactly what he did.
Junior's post-fight celebration quickly made him an endearing member of the MMA community.
Mike Brown vs Urijah Faber
When Urijah Faber met Mike Brown at WEC 36, MMA pundits expected the reigning prince of the featherweight division to put on his typical, exhilarating performance, and he did just that. Unfortunately for fans of The California Kid, Mike Brown was familiar with his tricks.
Faber threw a diving back elbow from the cage as he had done in past performances, but Brown was ready for it. Brown ducked his head and uncorked an overhand right that floored the champ.
Jeremy Stephens vs Rafael dos Anjos
Never leave it in the hands of the judges. Trying to rebound from a decision loss to Spencer Fisher, Jeremy Stephens wanted to make sure that the judges had no part in determining a winner of his UFC 91 contest.
Thirty-nine seconds into the final round, Stephens clobbered BJJ artist Rafael dos Anjos with an uppercut of epic magnitude.
Known as one of the most powerful strikers in the lightweight division, this is not Stephens' only appearance on this list.
UFC Fight For the Troops
Josh Koscheck vs Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Josh Koscheck was adamant about wanting to put on a good show for the troops in attendance of his bout with welterweight Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Disappoint, he did not.
Yoshiyuki was out cold after a right hand scored two minutes into the very first round. However, the Japanese fighter leave his feet. Clearly lacking his mental faculties, Yoshida started to wobble and walked right into a vicious right hand that would have knocked out Roy Nelson.
Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale
Anthony Johnson vs Kevin Burns
In their first encounter, a repeated eye poke left Rumble unable to continue. In a bizarre twist, Burns, who had received multiple warnings about eye pokes already, was awarded the stoppage victory via TKO. When an appeal served no justice for Johnson, we knew that these welterweights would meet again.
The rematch was set for the TUF8 finale, and intensity was high. As Burns initiated a left hook, Johnson threw a left head kick that landed flush, sending Burns deep into slumber land. Revenge never tasted so sweet.
So apparently, Johnson ate a lot of it.
Rampage Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva
Intense rivalry? Check.
History of knockouts? Check
Major event? Check
At The Ultimate 2008, former PRIDE superstars Wanderlei Silva and Rampage Jackson would meet for a third time. Their two previous bouts, held under the PRIDE banner, ended violently, with Wanderlei victorious in both.
The third time was the charm for Rampage, as he finally found a way to best the Chute Box legend. If the original knockout wasn't juicy enough, Rampage held an unconscious Wanderlei by the throat and threw some violent shots before Yves Lavigne was able to wrestle him off.
Affliction: Day of Reckoning
Fedor Emelianenko vs Andrei Arlovski
When Andrei Arlovski signed on to fight Fedor Emelianenko, he was arguably the No. 2 heavyweight in the world. Riding a five-fight win streak that included three UFC wins and KO victories over Ben Rothwell and Roy Nelson, Arlovski represented a major test to the undefeated Russian.
Arlovski brought the fight, scoring a small collection of right hands that undoubtedly had The Last Emperor concerned about The Pitbull's power. A push kick bounced Fedor against the ropes, and Arlovski attempted to fire a flying knee. Instead, Emelianenko fired an enormous right hook and landed flush as his opponent was in mid-air.
Lyoto Machida vs Thiago Silva
You're never safe against Lyoto Machida. The best example of this saw Thiago Silva lying on his back, with Machida standing above him in the final seconds of Round 1. Silva let his guard down with three seconds left in the round, and Machida didn't hesitate to make him pay.
Seeing as how Machida had yet to display any substantial aggression to UFC fans, few could have predicted that Machida would deliver a solo haymaker to his prone opponent, which would KO the unbeaten Silva without any need for a follow-up strike.
Shane Carwin vs Gabriel Gonzaga
When undefeated Shane Carwin came into UFC 96, he was scheduled to meet his biggest test to date: former contender for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, Gabriel Gonzaga.
Gonzaga pushed Carwin harder than anyone previously had and rocked The Engineer with a big punch. Carwin face grew into a thousand-yard stare, and the end appeared to be moments away.
In the most impressive display of his one-punch power to date. Carwin drilled Gonzaga with a right hand that put the Brazilian down for a long winter's nap.
Matt Hamill vs Mark Munoz
Matt Hamill doesn't throw head kicks. Right?
That's what Mark Munoz thought. Take a close look at the photo of this brilliant knockout, and you'll notice that Munoz is clearly attempting to catch a body kick. Instead, he ate a skull-crushing shin to the dome.
Shogun Rua vs Chuck Liddell
In the saga of Chuck Liddell vs PRIDE legends, The Iceman had gone 1-1, scoring a decision over Wanderlei Silva, but being violently KOd by Rampage Jackson. Liddell would try to break .500 when he took on Mauricio Shogun Rua.
In a dream fight that had been anticipated for years, Shogun and Liddell delivered an exciting contest with an explosive finish. Both men threw simultaneously, but it was Shogun's lunging left hook that landed hardest.
This KO put Shogun on track to win the UFC light-heavyweight championship and put on more nail in the career of Chuck Liddell.
Hayato Sakurai vs Shinya Aoki
I'm sure you'd love another video to soothe your need for a brutal KO. I'm happy to oblige.
Usually, going to the ground with lightweight Shinya Aoki is a death wish. As one of the best grapplers of his time, the Japanese star has a tendency to wrap up submissions in quick and brutal fashion.
When Aoki met Hayato Sakurai, a well-timed sweep was all it took to put Aoki in trouble for a change. Immediately after gaining an advantageous position, Sakurai delivered huge knees to the head of Aoki (legal in DREAM) for the KO.
Referees aren't always as quick to break up a fight as they should be, so the follow-up blows delivered were completely unnecessary.
Marcus Aurelio vs Keegan Marshall
How about another video?
This is the kind of knockout that makes the list for two reasons:
1. Spectacular delivery of a strike
2. Degree of unconsciousness of recipient
Who says Capoeira is dead?
Machida makes his second appearance on this list, and did so with successive bouts. This time, his victim is none other than UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.
The elusive style of Machida was in peak form when he challenged Suga. Evans found himself unable to land and became frustrated with the fact.
In true Evans style, the champ would taunt his opponent during the contest. However, The Dragon made sure that it was a decision that would be immediately regretted.
Don't ask Rashad to autograph this photo. He doesn't like it.
Yahir Reyes vs Estevan Payan
Still an upstart organization with no "name-brand" stars, Bellator made their mark on the MMA world by putting together exciting fights between fighters who are young, determined and hungry.
Watch the video attached to see arguably the best spinning backfist in MMA history. Knockouts like this are the reason that Bellator rose so quickly into the national spotlight.
Strikeforce: Lawlor vs Shields
Brett Rogers vs Andrei Arlovski
Needing to get back on the winning side of things after his KO loss to Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski returned to Strikeforce in hopes of picking up a decisive victory. The opponent presented was a part-time fighter who worked in the tire department at Wal-Mart. What could possibly go wrong?
Brett Rogers announced himself to the world by knocking out the former UFC Heavyweight champion in only 22 seconds. It remains one of the greatest and most overlooked upsets in the history of the sport.
Jose Aldo vs Cub Swanson
With a record of 7-1 as a featherweight, Cub Swanson likely expected that his No. 1 contenders bout with Jose Aldo would last longer than eight seconds. However, when your opponent begins the fight by throwing a two-strike flying knee, an aerial attack in which each knee delivers a separate strike, it's hard to be prepared for it.
The double knee dropped Swanson instantly and opened a nasty gash above his left eye. And yes, that is his skull you are looking at.
Nick Pace vs Collin Tebo
The video above has quickly become one of my favorite knockouts on the Internet.
Although Nick Pace is most commonly associated with the Pace Choke, his brutal knockout of Collin Tebo is most certainly a highlight worth watching.
Sending Tebo high into the air with a flying knee, Pace wasn't finished yet. As his prone opponent lay on the canvas, Pace delivered one of the most vicious punches to a downed opponent I've ever seen.
Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Dan Henderson!
When these two Ultimate Fighter coaches met at UFC 100, tensions were high. After a season of grating on each other's nerves, Michael Bisping promised to be the first man in history to KO Dan Henderson.
The shoe was on the other foot, as Bisping erroneously circled into the power side of the former PRIDE champion. With an explosive H-Bomb, Bisping was out cold. Not content with his work, Henderson dove onto the napping Brit and landing a flying haymaker that can only be described as death from above.
Marius Zaromskis vs Jason High
Still discussed as one of the greatest head kick knockouts in MMA history, Marius Zaromskis vs Jason High is simply something that every fight fan needs to see.
This fight was the semifinal round of the DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix.
Anderson Silva vs Forrest Griffin
Hot off of his five-round snoozer with submission artist Thales Leites, fans were itching to see Anderson Silva engage with a fellow striker. Dana White wasn't about to watch the stock of his top star plummet, so he set up an interesting bout with former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
It's clear that Silva is the best middleweight alive, and he had tested the 205 waters previously, but could he hang with a former champion who holds a significant size advantage?
The answer was yes. Silva not only outclassed Griffin during this bout, but he flat-out embarrassed the TUF winner. Utilizing incredible head movement, Silva would go on to finish the fight with a fadeaway jab that illustrates how dangerous The Spider is.
Nate Marquardt vs Demian Maia
When Dan Henderson KOd Michael Bisping in spectacular fashion, fellow title hopeful Nate Marquardt knew that he would need an equally impressive stoppage of undefeated Demian Maia if another crack at gold would be his.
Not to be outdone by the former Olympian, Marquardt unleashed a counter right hand as soon as Maia attempted a kick. The shot knocked the Brazillian senseless, and Maia was given an impromptu lesson on gravity as he crashed to the canvas from midair.
In a true show of sportsmanship, Marquardt decided against throwing a follow-up shot to his defeated opponent, leading many to believe he earned something more than a shot at the belt: respect.
Brian Bowles vs Miguel Torres
In one of the biggest upsets in WEC history, Brian Bowles overcame the massive experience advantage of champion Miguel Torres and did so in exciting fashion.
With Torres on the attack, Bowles floored his opponent despite having his back against the cage. Trying to finish the fight, Bowles continued to throw right hands while the champion attempted to regain his composure.
Torres was able to recover guard, but Bowles quickly unloaded some heavy left hands that bounced the unconscious champion's head like a basketball and earned him his first world championship in the process..
When Dan Hornbuckle agreed to face Japanese star Akihiro Gono, we didn't know much more than the fact that the youngster had a whole lot of promise. Despite holding a 17-2 record, Hornbuckle was stopped in the first round by the only notable he had ever faced.
The bout with Gono was a huge step up in competition. Check out this video for the beautiful head kick KO.
In a touching moment, a very emotional took a moment to realize what he had just accomplished.
Strikeforce: Fedor vs Rogers
Fedor Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers
In the most recent high-profile win of his career, Fedor Emelianenko had surprising difficulty dispatching of Brett Rogers in his Strikeforce debut.
The first round was very close, but the finish of the bout was definitive. Staying light on his feet, Fedor had his hands down in an attempt to bait Rogers into an attack. At the first sign of movement, Fedor threw his entire body behind an overhand right that floored the previously undefeated Rogers.
The KO was exactly the kind of stoppage that Showtime officials were looking for after signing Emelianenko and M-1 Global to a lucrative partnership.
Ben Saunders vs Marcus Davis
A picture says a thousand words, doesn't it?
Despite an extensive MMA career, along with a history in boxing, Marcus Davis had never been knocked out going into his UFC 106 contest with Ben Saunders.
Saunders would utilize his deadly clinch and throw several jumping knees that would stagger, rock and provide a pillow for Davis.
The former Ultimate Fighter contestant describes his creation of violence as works of art. If that is the case, then this fight is undoubtedly his Mona Lisa.
Paul Daley vs Dustin Hazelett
Let's forget for a minute that Paul Daley is a one-dimensional fighter who can't make weight and has a tendency to sucker punch his opponent after the fight is over. This knockout was gorgeous.
At UFC 108, Daley was scheduled to face Carlos Condit. When Condit required surgery, jiu-jitsu fighter Hazelett stepped in.
Despite each man having a clear-cut path to victory, Hazelett elected to stand the with the British striker, and quickly paid for it.
Daley unleashed a looping left hook that took Hazelett out of the fight, but the youngster landed on his elbows, and Herb Dean hadn't seen enough. Daley wasted no time in following his opponent down and firing five punishing lefts that left no doubt.
Matt Serra vs Frank Trigg
In a battle of stars past their primes, Matt Serra and Frank Trigg were both in major need of a win at UFC 109. Trigg lost his return bout to the Octagon via first-round TKO at the hands of Josh Koscheck. Serra was on the heels of a razor-thin (and somewhat controversial) decision loss to Matt Hughes.
The bout didn't take long, as Serra's notoriously heavy hands came into play early. Sending Trigg to the canvas with a big overhand right, Serra drilled Twinkletoes with some unneeded ground and pound to seal the deal.
The KO literally bounced Trigg out of the UFC and showed the world that Matt Serra's power is not a fluke.
Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Nogueira
When the UFC made their Australian debut, the main event represented a potential passing of the guard. A legend and former champion squaring off against an undefeated youngster with future hopes of gold.
Velasquez proved that the younger lion happened to be hungrier and more aggressive. A three-punch combo floored Nogueira, while a five-punch flurry on the ground bounced and baffled his senses.
The knockout was so impressive that Velasquez was granted a title shot, and fans of Nogueira begged him to hang it up.
Shane Carwin vs Frank Mir
As you can tell, not all of the best knockouts don't always come from a single strike. At UFC 111, Shane Carwin showed off his spectacular power against Frank Mir and landed double digit punches to do the job.
The knockout began when Carwin clinched Mir against the cage and delivered six big uppercuts that brought Mir to his knee. Continuing to throw his lunchbox-sized hands, Carwin would land no less than twelve shots to the side (and back) of Mir's head for the KO.
Dan Mirgoliotta was definitely slow to step in on this bout, and Mir ate five additional bombs after his nap began.
Shogun Rua vs Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida makes this list yet again, but this time, he finds himself on the receiving end.
After their initial bout at UFC 104 was deemed by many as the worst decision in MMA history, Shogun Rua knew that winning the coveted UFC Light Heavyweight Championship would take something convincing.
Countering a Machida straight left with a big overhand right, Shogun floored the champion and mounted him immediately. The Dragon tried to protect himself, but Shogun's punches wouldn't be stopped.
Rapid-fire shots left the champ motionless for several moments. Shogun stood to celebrate, and the world was finally able to recognize the PRIDE superstar as a champion.
Rich Franklin vs Chuck Liddell
When Chuck Liddell agreed to coach The Ultimate Fighter for a second time, he did so under the impression that he would get to face Tito Ortiz to conclude a trilogy of fights with The Huntington Beach Bad Boy. An injury to Ortiz would remove him from the bout and bring in Rich Franklin as a replacement both on TUF and in the main event of UFC 115.
Liddell looked fantastic in the opening frame of the contest. His striking was crisp, and he used his wrestling to keep the fight unpredictable. At one point, he broke Franklin's arm with a head kick that was blocked.
In the closing moments of the first round, Franklin was hurt by an elbow against the cage, and Chuck smelled blood in the water. Rushing in, The Ice Man reared back for the kill shot and was surprised to be met with a big right hand.
Sarah Kaufman vs Roxanne Modafferi
When top contender Sarah Kaufman was relegated to the Challengers series for her bout with Roxanne Modafferi, she knew that a major impact was necessary in order to get some much-needed respect for womens MMA.
In Round 3 of her contest, Modafferi attempted to find submissions from guard, and Kaufman decided to channel her inner Rampage Jackson. Almost as if it were in slow-motion, Kaufman lifted Modafferi into the air and powerbombed her onto the back of her head.
Thankfully, referee Kevin Mulhall and Kaufman immediately recognized that there was no need for any more of the assault, and Modafferi went limp immediately.
Gerald Harris vs Dave Branch
In keeping with the slam theme of the last slide, let's take a look at another monster slam from July of 2010.
Dave Branch met Ultimate Fighter contestant Gerald Harris at UFC 116 in hopes of keeping his undefeated record intact and successfully transitioning into the UFC talent pool. That did not happen.
Halfway through Round 3, Branch threatened with a potential triangle choke by trapping Harris' arm within his closed guard. Harris used his brute strength to stand, bringing his opponent with him. Using his free forearm to hold Branch's head steady, Harris immediately slammed down onto the canvas, knocking him out instantly.
The slam was so impressive that it made the weekly highlights on ESPN's SportsCenter.
UFC on VS
Takanori Gomi vs Tyson Griffin
Japanese legend Takanori Gomi knew that his back was pressed against the wall meeting Tyson Griffin. After all, Gomi had been finished in his UFC debut, and Griffin was an aggressive fighter with a successful career inside the Octagon.
The two stood and traded early, which Griffin should have thought better about. In vintage Gomi form, the Fireball Kid swayed right and then fired a looping right hook with his entire body. Griffin crashed hard from the shot, falling flat on his face with his first KO loss ever.
George Roop vs Korean Zombie
When featherweights need to showcase their skills, Joe Silva tends to call upon George Roop as an opponent. Hot off of his 2010 Fight of the Year with Leonard Garcia, the Korean Zombie needed to have another entertaining fight, so you can imagine who he squared off against.
Entertainment is certainly what we got, as Roop delivered a beautiful head kick that proved Chan Sung Jung is capable of going to sleep.
This fight won 2010's KO of the Year from several MMA websites and journalists.
Carlos Condit vs Dan Hardy
You guys have all seen the double knockout video on YouTube, right? If not, go watch it now. I'll wait.
OK. Now that you've seen it, this fight between Dan Hardy and Carlos Condit nearly ended in almost identical fashion.
Welterweights Carlos Condit and Dan Hardy are known for having a fan-friendly style in which they are willing to stand and exchange bombs. At UFC 120, the British crowd was treated to a thrilling KO, as each man simultaneously threw a killer left hook that landed flush.
Unfortunately for Hardy, his shot didn't do quite the same damage, as Condit came out of the exchange with his eyes open.
BJ Penn vs Matt Hughes
When former welterweight champions BJ Penn and Matt Hughes met in their hotly-anticipated rubber match, many expected fireworks. Due to the new-found motivation after consecutive losses to Frankie Edgar, many more expected to see BJ Penn in the best shape of his career.
What nobody expected was to see Penn deliver a 21-second knockout against a man who hadn't been fully knocked out in 52 previous fights.
The flawless KO told the world that BJ Penn wasn't going anywhere.
Yuichiro Nagashima vs Shinya Aoki
You won't find this contest on either man's professional record, as it was held under special rules. Nagashima is a kickboxer with little grappling experience and Aoki is one of the best grapplers in the world. In order for these men to come to terms on a fight, some adjustments needed to be made.
Round 1 would be three minutes long and disallowed grappling of any kind. Stand-up striking is the only thing allowed. Round 2 would be an MMA round with traditional rules attached. There were no judges and no disqualifications. If the fight was not finished after two rounds, it would be ruled a draw.
Aoki decided to take advantage of the "no disqualifications" part of the agreement by constantly clinching throughout the first round. When he did offer "striking," it was in the form of dropkicks that were intended to waste time and get him to the canvas, where he could not be struck.
Robbed of his kickboxing round, there was little hope for Nagashima as we entered the MMA portion of the contest. Immediately as the round began, Aoki shot in for a double leg. In a beautifully-timed counter, Nagashima landed a flying knee that knocked his opponent silly.
For good measure, he landed several unnecessary (but completely deserved) hammerfists before the referee could pull him off.
The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale
Pablo Garza vs Fredson Paixao
The first fight in UFC featherweight history is arguably the biggest knockout that the division has ever seen.
With the enormous height difference already there, Fredson Paixao was dangerously close to Pablo Garza's knees at the start of the fight. When he shot in for a takedown at the same moment that Garza elected to throw a flying knee, there was no chance that he was walking away conscious.
On a personal note, this remains one of my favorite knockouts in MMA history. I can't post the video, but a quick search on YouTube for Garza Paixao will make this immediately available.
Jeremy Stephens vs Marcus Davis
Jeremy Stephens soundly lost the first two rounds of his encounter with former welterweight contender Marcus Davis. Davis was making his lightweight debut and looked great throughout the contest.
In the third round, Stephens cocked back and fired a looping right that had Davis unconscious before he hit the ground. As if that weren't enough, Stephens dove onto the sleeping "Irish Hand Grenade" and fired off one of the most vicious diving punches in MMA history.
Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort
Strikers collided in a Middleweight championship bout that pit Anderson Silva against a former champion from a heavier weight class who claimed to have faster and more accurate striking.
Many predicted a first-round knockout, although fans seemed torn as to who the winner would be. Silva's previous bout saw him take a hellacious beating both standing and on the ground at the hands of a wrestler. If he had lost his edge, how would he hold up against Belfort, a fighter with striking credentials superior to those of Sonnen?
Silva would show the world that the bout with Sonnen was nothing more than a one-time occurrence as he vanquished Belfort with a front kick—learned under the tutelage of Steven Segal—in the very first round.
Mark Hunt vs Chris Tuchscherer
Some knockouts are amazing for their technique. Some just because of the deep slumber that it creates. This knockout makes our list because of the walk off.
This fight ended with a monster uppercut from Hunt that crumpled Tuchscherer. As if he could sense the knockout in his bones, Hunt began to walk away from his opponent before he even fell to the mat.
Although this was Hunt's first win in years, he reacted with the same emotion you would expect to see in a man who just got a new toothbrush.
The cool, calm and collected version of Hunt is a scary thing. Stefan Struve should be worried on May 26.
Brendan Schaub vs Mirko Cro Cop
The hybrid made his mark on the UFC heavyweight division with his signature victory over PRIDE legend Mirko Cro Cop.
One vicious overhand right was all that it took to send the Croatian plummeting to the canvas. Like a lion who stalked his prey, Schaub slowly walked up to his fallen opponent and fired off an incredibly damaging bomb.
The knockout was incredible, and that's why this bout makes the list, but I do take issue with Schaub throwing the last shot in the manner that he did. There are times when you just know that your opponent is finished, regardless of the ref stepping in, and this was one of them. It was classless and unsportsmanlike.
John Makdessi vs Kyle Watson
The photo sure doesn't look menacing. However, the spinning back fist that John Makdessi used to put that look on the face of Kyle Watson certainly was.
This knockout is one of few UFC contests on the list that didn't win Knockout of the Night . That doesn't speak to a lack of quality in this finish. If anything, it echoes the magnitude of the next KO on our list.
Lyoto Machida vs Randy Couture
The biggest crowd in UFC history deserves a knockout of equal magnitude.
Commonly referred to as The Karate Kid, it was poetic that Machida would use the signature maneuver of Daniel-san to defeat Randy Couture at UFC 129.
Feigning a left kick took the focus of Randy Couture and redirected it just long enough for The Dragon to deliver a flying right front kick that landed flush on the chin of The Natural.
I wonder if Pat Morita took exception to Steven Segal claiming to have invented this dangerous strike.
Patricky Pitbull vs Toby Imada
I've heard of punch-drunk, but flying-knee-drunk is new to me. At Bellator 39, Patricky Pitbull scored a spectacular flying knee that left his opponent staggering like a whiskey-scented hobo asking for change.
Miraculously, Imada never left his feet. Moments later, Pitbull charged with some punches that tipped Imada over, stiff as a board. Make no mistake, though, the knee is what did the job.
Travis Browne vs Stefan Struve
In a battle between two of MMA's tallest fighters, fans knew to expect a battle of styles between powerhouse striker Travis Browne and submission artist Stefan Struve. What they got was a marvelous finish that saw Browne smash Struve like a cheap glass window.
As if the strike that finished the fight wasn't entertaining enough, watching Struve fall from his 6'11" perch had an added bit of hilarity in the fact that he appeared to be attempting to limbo on his way to the ground.
Stefan "The Skyscraper" Struve got knocked out by a Superman punch. I feel like there is a joke somewhere about Superman leaping tall buildings in a single bound. If you think of one, post it in the comments.
UFC on Versus
Cheick Kongo vs Pat Barry
In one of the most epic comebacks in the history of the sport, Cheick Kongo was nearly finished on multiple occasions by kickboxer Pat Barry. Kongo fell to the canvas in what appeared to be varied levels of consciousness, but kept returning to his feet.
As Barry charged in for the kill, Kongo somehow possessed enough environmental awareness to throw and land a disgusting uppercut that had fans leaping out of their chairs.
Sam Stout vs Yves Edwards
Heading into his bout with Yves Edwards, former knockout artist Sam Stout hadn't stopped an opponent with strikes in four years. With a nickname like Hands of Stone, you can see why this may have been disheartening to the Canadian contender.
In the first round of their contest, Stout landed an epic four-punch combination that saw Edwards stiffen up immediately. Edwards fell while bent at the waist and whiplashed back once he hit the canvas for another big impact.
This was the final fight from Stout before the death of his friend and longtime trainer, Shawn Tompkins.
Rafael dos Anjos vs George Sotiropoulos
Jiu-jitsu specialists Rafael dos Anjos and George Sotiropoulos have some of the best BJJ in the lightweight division. That's why few expected their UFC 132 contest to end with a violent knockout in the very first minute.
The two grapplers met in the center of the Octagon and came out firing. The two collided in the center of the Octagon, pushing G-Sot backwards.
Although still trying to find his footing, Sotiropoulos attempted a sloppy straight left hand. Meanwhile, dos Anjos was loading up a looping right hook that started in Brazil and landed in Australia. It was a strike that the Aussie should have seen coming, but hit him like a freight train when it landed.
Pat Curran vs Marlon Sandro
In the finals of Bellator's Summer Featherweight Tournament, Pat Curran and Marlon Sandro battled in a back-and-forth battle that ended with incredible violence.
Sandro utilized good head movement, but Curran eventually caught on. Noticing a tendency to follow right sways with left sways, Curran through a synchronized head kick that landed just as Sandro leaned down.
Sandro was instantly out and Curran had a highlight KO to go along with his second tournament trophy.
Ultimate Fight Night 24
Jake Ellenberger vs Jake Shields
For Jake Shields, this was an opportunity to show that he can compete with heavy handed wrestlers who can shut down his takedown attempts. For Jake Ellenberger, this was a chance to prove that he belongs in the welterweight title picture.
Unlike his title shot against GSP, Shields wisely attempted to work this bout to the ground. When his advances were spurned, it all went downhill quickly. Clinched together in the center of the Octagon, Shields was eyeing a leg while Ellenberger grabbed a hold of a muay thai clinch.
Shields crumpled to the mat after eating a big knee and unfortunately fell in a position that suggested to the referee that he was still conscious. Ellenberger would land six rapid-fire bombs directly on the chin of his opponent that alternated his state of consciousness.
Woken up by the final punch, Shields ineptly attempted to shoot a single leg on referee Kevin Mulhall, apparently believing that somehow Jake Ellenberger had taken the time to put on a pair of pants.
Strikeforce: Barnett vs Kharitonov
Daniel Cormier vs Bigfoot Silva
Watch this interview with Daniel Cormier for video of the knockout.
When tournament alternate Daniel Cormier was selected as a replacement for semifinalist Alistair Overeem, he was immediately a big underdog to former Elite XC champion Antonio Bigfoot Silva.
Cormier dropped early in the first round, but the knockout didn't come for a few more minutes. Pressing his enormous opponent up against the cage, Cormier felled Silva with a left hook and nasty right uppercut.
Not content with his line of vision, the referee wasn't quite ready to step in and break up the action, so Cormier had to land two enormous hammerfists on Silva before the fight was finally waved off.
Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard III
Gray Maynard was face down and having his head bounced on the canvas by his arch-enemy Frankie Edgar. It was a fitting conclusion to their 14 rounds of war behind the locked Octagon doors.
Let's back up and take a look at the knockout itself. A right hook from Edgar send Maynard stumbling back against the cage, while a second knocked him onto his hands and knees.
Edgar could smell blood in the water as he swarmed the only man to ever defeat him. The Answer unleashed four left hooks that finally gave some closure to the lightweight title scene.
UFC on FOX
Junior dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez
Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos has a way to locate that warm fleshy part that sits behind the ear. Cain Velasquez found that out the hard way.
An overhand right would send Velasquez to the floor, and dos Santos would not let the opportunity to finish go to waste. Following his opponent to the canvas, Cigano threw big hooks until Big John McCarthy had seen enough.
In a milestone of Zuffa history, this bout was the first fight to air on broadcast television. The knockout itself isn't flashy, nor was Cain ever completely unconscious, but the importance of this bout scores it a spot on our list.
Korean Zombie vs Mark Hominick
Got room for a record breaker, anyone?
At UFC 140, The Korean Zombie continued making history. Already part of 2010's Fight and Knockout of the Year and the 2011 Submission of the Year, Chan Sung Jung needed only seven seconds to defeat Mark Hominick.
Hominick began the fight with a sloppy jab, and the Zombie made him pay for it with a powerful right hand that send the Canadian to the mat. Standing above his opponent, he landed four more bombs to stamp his name in the record books.
Shortly after this bout, Dana White would go on to confirm Duane Ludwig as the rightful owner of the fastest KO record, but for a couple of weeks, Zombie vs Hominick was king.
Johny Hendricks vs Jon Fitch
One look at this picture, and you may think that Hendricks vs Fitch was a staring contest. That's fitting when you consider the fact that a single blink and you may have missed the entire thing.
When Johny Hendricks squared off against Jon Fitch, he was a heavy underdog to a fighter who was a longtime contender for the welterweight crown. In an interview with Fightline.com, Hendricks described his knockout as the product of an experiment (h/t Sherdog):
"OK, I’m going to hit somebody as hard as I can and see what happens.’ Sure enough, I did it and he fell.”
Now holding wins over Fitch and former AKA training partner Josh Koscheck, Hendricks stakes a claim the highly coveted welterweight championship.
Edson Barboza vs Terry Etim
Undefeated Edson Barboza first displayed his incredible wheel kick in a bout with Anthony Njokuani. The move appeared to be little more than flash at the end of that contest in hopes of swaying the judges in the final seconds.
When Barboza threw the kick at Terry Etim, there was no doubt that the fight was done. Both visually appealing and bone-crushing.
Expect this fight to garner no less than a nomination for KO of the Year from every reputable source.
Jose Aldo vs Chad Mendes
The debate going into the title bout between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and undefeated Chad Mendes surrounded whether Aldo would be able to shut down the stifling wrestling game of his opponent.
The better question would have been "how predictable will Chad Mendes be in constantly going for takedowns?"
Towards the end of the first round, Aldo was able to work his way back to his feet, but Mendes still had the champion by the waist. When Aldo broke free, he knew that Mendes was going to shoot for a takedown without hesitation. The Nova Uniao fighter immediately spun around and throw an intercepting knee that knocked Mendes cold.
Stephen Thompson vs Dan Stittgen
Dan Stittgen was a short-notice replacement who stepped in to fight one of the best kickboxers alive. That is the recipe for a massive concussion and highlight reel gold.
Thompson hid his counter-kick behind the shoulder of Stittgen, who had just thrown a looping left hook which blocked his peripheral vision.
The kick made people quickly take notice of the debuting fighter, although we now know that he would later fall short to grizzled veteran Matt Brown in his next bout.
Anthony Pettis vs Joe Lauzon
The last WEC Lightweight Champion had run into a disappointing hurdle named Clay Guida in his first UFC contest. Coming off of an unimpressive decision win over Jeremy Stephens, Pettis knew that he needed to make a major statement at UFC 144 if he had any hopes of recapturing the momentum he possessed only one year prior.
In the first round of his fight with surging Ultimate Fighter star Joe Lauzon, Pettis threw an incredible high kick that was too quick for J-Lau to intercept.
Pettis' knockout was so incredible that many fans immediately called for him to be named the No. 1 contender despite neither Stephens nor Lauzon being in the title picture themselves.
Pat Curran vs Joe Warren
Pat Curran entered his Featherweight Championship bout with Bellator champion Joe Warren coming off of the heels of an insane head kick on Marlon Sandro. With a clear striking advantage, the question surrounding the fight was in regards to whether or not Warren would be able to negate Curran's striking with his strong wrestling prowess.
Chalk it up to a bad referee who didn't know how to protect a fighter, but Curran finished Warren with what I consider to be one of the longest and most unnecessary knockouts in history. I've included the video above.
Curran originally stumbled Warren with a big knee that knocked him back against the cage. That cage would prove to be Warren's enemy because it prevented him from falling on many occasions. Curran continued to throw big knees and vicious uppercuts in an attempt to stop the fight, but with nowhere to fall, Warren was trapped.
Finally collapsing under his own weight, Warren fell unconscious to the floor, and the referee mercifully pulled Curran off.
UFC on FX
Joseph Benavidez vs Yasuhiro Urushitani
The flyweight division is a group of 125-pound fighters who are known for their speed and cardiovascular prowess. Power striking isn't exactly the centerpiece of the division.
That's why many were surprised to see Joseph Benavidez KO highly-touted Yasuhiro Urushitani in only the second flyweight bout in UFC history.
Deflecting a kick from the Japanese fighter, Benavidez threw a counter right hand that smashed his opponent only seconds into the second frame. Following his opponent to the mat, the Team Alpha Male fighter slugged out some hefty ground-and-pound for the stoppage.
UFC on FUEL
Siyar Bahadurzada vs Paulo Thiago
Long last name. Short first fight.
It took only 40 seconds for debuting welterweight Siyar Bahadurzada to KO iron-chinned pugilist Paulo Thiago.
Bahadurzada joins a very elite group of fighters, as the only men to defeat Thiago in the past are Diego Sanchez, Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, and in each of those bouts, 15 minutes wasn't enough to finish the Brazilian SWAT force member.
This is one of the most impressive knockouts in recent memory due to the toughness of Thiago and the level of unconsciousness that he experienced. Watch out, welterweights. You've got a dangerous new man in your midst.
Michael McDonald vs Miguel Torres
When Michael McDonald met Miguel Torres at UFC 145, he was still labeled as a young prospect in the bantamweight division. Torres represented the old lion who McDonald had to challenge in order to gain his proper respect.
McDonald passed with flying colors by dropping Torres in the first round. The former champion lay motionless on the canvas for minutes while being tended to in a scary moment for many.
McDonald is currently being considered as an opponent for Urijah Faber in an interim title bout at UFC 148 in July. If his performance against Torres is any indication, he is ready for the opportunity.