Knockout of the Year: March 2013 Edition
The UFC and Bellator MMA are in a battle.
It's not a battle for ratings. That may come later on. Instead, it's a battle to determine which organization can produce the most jaw-dropping knockout of 2013.
Bellator MMA may not be drawing the same amount of attention as the UFC in its debut season on Spike TV, but the promotion has produced some of the most vicious knockouts of early-2013.
Incredibly, more than half of Bellator MMA's main card bouts have ended in stoppages due to strikes through the first couple months of 2013, so some of those finishes were bound to be highlight reel-worthy.
That being said, the UFC has had its fair share of exciting knockouts as well. Though a smaller percentage of their fights have ended in knockouts, the UFC has had many of its biggest names put opponents away in devastating fashion.
Which organization is leading the battle for knockout of the year? Let's take a look.
5. Wanderlei Silva
Event: UFC on Fuel TV 8
Opponent: Brian Stann
Knockout Method: Punches
Wanderlei Silva has been around since MMA's early days, and he's taken a lot of punishment over the years as a result. Because of that and some knockout losses since joining the UFC roster, many believed Silva no longer had the ability to utilize his exceptionally aggressive fighting style.
Still, in his UFC on Fuel TV 8 main event bout with Brian Stann, Silva came out swinging wildly.
Though he was wobbled himself a few times, Silva eventually caught Stann with a wide right hook late in the second round. Stann toppled to his back and was finished off with a few extra shots.
4. Antonio Silva
Event: UFC 156
Opponent: Alistair Overeem
Knockout Method: Punches
Antonio Silva was a massive underdog heading into his fight with former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem. Many simply expected Silva to be a stepping stone in Overeem's path to a UFC title fight, but Bigfoot had other plans.
The first two rounds of Silva's fight with Overeem were mostly lackluster, with The Reem carrying his hands low and not committing offensively.
However, in the final stanza, Silva clipped Overeem and began overwhelming his heavily favored opponent with his massive fists. A series of right uppercuts and straight rights along the fence put Overeem down and taught a valuable lesson about overconfidence in MMA.
3. Vitor Belfort
Event: UFC on FX 7
Opponent: Michael Bisping
Knockout Method: Head kick and punches
After losing to Jon Jones in a surprise light heavyweight title shot, Vitor Belfort was in need of a win over Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 in order to remain in championship contention at either 185 or 205 pounds.
Belfort was patient until catching Bisping at the end of the first round. Then, the Brazilian opened up a little more in the second frame and caught his opponent with a left kick to the head.
Bisping collapsed and was stopped with a few more punches. Just one win away from a shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Bisping suffered another setback and will have to work his way back up the 185-pound ladder.
2. Ben Saunders
Event: Bellator 90
Opponent: Raul Amaya
Knockout Method: Head kick
Coming off of a win over Koffi Adzitso in the opening round of a Bellator welterweight tournament, Ben Saunders needed just one more win to reach the competition's finals.
Saunders did more than pick up a victory in his semifinal bout against Raul Amaya. The UFC veteran scored a knockout of the year candidate by slamming his shin into Amaya's noggin, causing his opponent to fold over.
Next up for Saunders in a rematch with Douglas Lima, who he was knocked out by in a previous tournament final in November 2011.
1. Emanuel Newton
Event: Bellator 90
Opponent: Muhammed Lawal
Knockout Method: Spinning backfist
Muhammed Lawal was one of the cornerstones in Bellator MMA's promotion on Spike TV. Many expected the former Strikeforce champion to breeze through a light heavyweight tournament and become the organization's 205-pound champion.
However, Lawal's run came to a shockingly early end in a semifinal bout against Emanuel Newton.
Despite his strong wrestling background, Lawal appeared focused on standing with Newton and got caught with a wild spinning backfist that caused him to go limp while still standing.
Newton is now set to face off against Mikhail Zayats, who scored a spinning backfist knockout of his own against Renato Sobral en route to the light heavyweight tournament finals.