Ranking the 20 Best MMA Heavyweight KOs of the Past 10 Years

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIMarch 21, 2013

Ranking the 20 Best MMA Heavyweight KOs of the Past 10 Years

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    The big boys of MMA are beloved for their incredible power and tendency to turn their opponents' lights out with a single strike. For that reason, heavyweights and knockouts are synonymous with one another. 

    This is a division that has been the home to the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Junior dos Santos, Mark Hunt and Fedor Emelianenko. Of course the knockouts are going to be spectacular.

    Over the course of the last 10 years, the heavyweight division has delivered countless stoppages that have left our jaws on the floor. In celebration of their accomplishments, here is a look at the top 20 heavyweight knockouts of the past decade.

Ranking Criteria

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    Ultimately, fans of knockouts are looking for three things: (1) visual appeal, (2) complete unconsciousness and (3) "wow" factor.

    Certain knockouts may be incredible, but due to a lack of aesthetic appeal, they won't make this countdown. Fans familiar with the "hidden knockout" that occurred between Andrei Arlovski and Paul Buentello know what I'm talking about.

    Additionally, due to the difficulty of knocking someone out with a single strike, one-shot knockouts will rank higher than those in which followup shots were necessary to turn off the lights. 

    Fights that were officially ruled as a TKO are not eligible for this list.

    Openweight fights in which each person is not at least 207 pounds (lower limit of heavyweight division) will not be included, as they are not technically heavyweight fights.

Honorable Mention

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    These knockouts are worthy of mention, but didn't quite make the cut for the top 20.

    Antonio Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub

    Todd Duffee vs. Tim Hague

    Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir

    Daniel Cormier vs. Bigfoot Silva

    Mirko Cro Cop vs. Alberto del Rio

    Kevin Randleman vs. Mirko Cro Cop

    Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Nogueira

    Ben Rothwell vs. Brendan Schaub

    Brett Rogers vs. Andrei Arlovski

    Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson

    Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman

    Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve (technically ruled a TKO)

    For anyone wondering why you were given the Spanish-language video of Nogueira vs. Schaub on this slide, it is because the UFC only offered it as a free video through its UFC Latino channel on YouTube.

20. Mark Hunt vs. Chris Tuchscherer

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    UFC 127 - February 27, 2011

    Mark Hunt returned to the win column for the first time in nearly five years with this stellar finish of wrestler Chris Tuchscherer.

    In the second round, Hunt landed a vicious uppercut that kicked off his current winning streak.

    What's most impressive about the stoppage is that Hunt knew the fight was finished as soon as the punch landed, as he immediately walked away in celebration of his victory.


19. Matt Mitrione vs. Marcus Jones

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    The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale - December 5, 2009

    Although Marcus Jones was the imposing beast in this fight, it was Matt "Meathead" Mitrione who scored an incredible knockout in what was their post-show debut.

    In the opening seconds of Round 2, Jones charged forward. Mitrione was able to crush him with a nasty right hand as the monster collapsed to the ground at his feet.

18. Roy Nelson vs. Brendan Schaub

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    The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale - December 5, 2009

    That's right. Consecutive knockouts from the same card made this countdown. That's the beauty about a card full of heavyweights.

    Roy Nelson knocked out Brendan Schaub with a tremendous right hand to win the heavyweight season of The Ultimate Fighter. This win kicked off the UFC tenure of "Big Country" and helped him pocket a $25,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night.

17. Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez

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    UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

    When the UFC debuted on Fox, it knew that a heavyweight title fight had the potential to generate a major audience and a memorable highlight that would be remembered forever.

    Only 64 seconds into the fight, Junior dos Santos was crowned the new champion, as a massive right hand signaled the beginning of the end for Cain Velasquez.

    This knockout would likely rank higher were it not for the fact that it took several follow-up punches before the stoppage occurred. 

16. Andrei Arlovski vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

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    UFC 44 - September 26, 2003

    In 2003, Andrei Arlovski hadn't quite proved himself as a title contender in the heavyweight division. However, at UFC 44, that all changed with a thrashing of occasional heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko.

    A right uppercut put Matyushenko down, and Arlovski put the icing on the cake when he stood above "The Janitor" and unleashed a nasty hammerfist.

15. Brendan Schaub vs. Mirko Cro Cop

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    UFC 128 - March 19, 2011

    After a trio of decisive wins, Brendan Schaub looked for the biggest test of his career when he met Mirko "Cro Cop" on the main card of UFC 128.

    It took "The Hybrid" quite a while to find his rhythm, but once he did, the night ended violently for Cro Cop, who was bounced off the canvas like a basketball.

14. Alistair Overeem vs. Todd Duffee

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    Dynamite!! 2010 - December 31, 2010

    Fresh off delivering a thrashing to Brett Rogers, Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem looked to add the DREAM heavyweight championship to his collection at the promotion's year-end event.

    The man across from "The Reem" was Todd Duffee, who had been unceremoniously released from the UFC only months prior.

    Overeem finished the frantically paced fight in only 19 seconds with a devastating hook that left Duffee lying unconscious between the ropes.

13. Mike Russow vs. Todd Duffee

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    UFC 114 - May 29, 2010

    Speaking of Todd Duffee, let us not forget the knockout that sent him packing from the UFC.

    At UFC 114, Duffee did a great job of outclassing the out-of-shape Mike Russow for two-and-a-half rounds. However, one big punch has the ability to change any fight, and Duffee found that out the hard way.

    Russow landed a miracle haymaker that put Duffee in a coma, won him Knockout of the Night honors and became known as one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history.

12. Shane Carwin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

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    UFC 96 - March 7, 2009

    With major knockouts already to the credit of both men, fans expected fireworks in a heavyweight clash between Shane Carwin and Gabriel Gonzaga. They weren't disappointed. 

    Early out of the gate, Gonzaga rocked Carwin so badly that it looked as if "The Engineer" had no clue where he was. However, only moments later, Carwin connected with a right cross that put Gonzaga out.

    A follow-up punch was delivered while Gonzaga lay on the ground, but it wasn't needed. The stoppage came only 69 seconds into the first round.

11. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Igor Vovchanchyn

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    PRIDE Total Elimination 2003 - August 10, 2003

    Right leg, hospital. Left leg, cemetery.

    That's the motto of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, whose legendary head kicks put men to sleep more often than a marathon of Jon Fitch matches.

    In 2003, Cro Cop scored the second head-kick stoppage of his career against opponent Igor Vovchanchyn. The Ukranian was asleep before he hit the canvas, and this finish earned Cro Cop 2003 Knockout of the Year honors.

10. Ray Mercer vs. Tim Sylvia

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    Adrenaline MMA 3: Bragging Rights - June 13, 2009

    While most fans look to James Toney vs. Randy Couture as the only boxing vs. MMA matchup that put former champions from each sport against one another, it was not the first of its kind.

    In 2009, WBO champion Ray Mercer met Tim Sylvia on a regional show. Mercer quickly made Sylvia pay for thinking that he could compete with a boxing great in a stand-up battle. The knockout occurred in only nine seconds.

    Based on the result, we can understand why MMA fans don't like to discuss this.

    While this fight was technically contested in the super heavyweight division, both fighters have enough experience competing as heavyweights that it deserves its place in this countdown.

9. Bigfoot Silva vs. Alistair Overeem

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    UFC 156 - February 2, 2013

    This fight was supposed to end in a knockout, but nobody predicted that Bigfoot Silva would be on the giving end of things.

    Overeem fought like a fool and routinely kept his hands down against an opponent with tremendous reach and insane power.

    In the third round, Silva made him pay with a nasty combination of strikes that could have knocked out a moose.

8. Junior dos Santos vs. Fabricio Werdum

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    UFC 90 - October 25, 2008

    In the attached video, you can watch the savage uppercut that launched Junior dos Santos into the big leagues of MMA. His debut clocked in on Joe Rogan's countdown of the top eight UFC debuts of all time at No. 2.

    Don't listen to my analysis. Rogan is about to tell you everything that you need to know about this fight.

7. Gary Goodridge vs. Don Frye

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    PRIDE Shockwave '03 - December 31, 2003

    Don Frye may have been one of the most successful fighters of the early years in MMA. However, he was no match for kickboxer Gary Goodridge.

    Frye had previously defeated Goodridge en route to winning the Ultimate Ultimate 1996; however, this fight was drastically different. 

    Goodridge dominated every second of this fight and landed a brutal head kick to finish off Frye. 

6. Travis Browne vs. Stefan Struve

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    UFC 130 - May 28. 2011

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall. 

    That's what Stefan Struve found out at the hands of Travis Browne. The then-undefeated Browne landed a massive Superman punch that saw "The Skyscraper" fall like a rag doll to the floor.

    The first-round finish was worth a $70,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night and improved Browne's record to 11-0-1.

5. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers

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    Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers - November 7, 2009

    When Strikeforce acquired the services of Fedor Emelianenko, they were quick to announce that the Russian superstar would headline the first event on CBS. The man standing across the cage from him would be undefeated Brett Rogers, who was fresh off a KO win against Andrei Arlovski.

    Rogers did an admirable job in this contest, but after tiring early in the second round, he fell prey to the incredible power of Emelianenko. "The Last Emperor" had a lot of spring in his step and used it to land a devastating haymaker that was thrown with every bit of force he could muster.

4. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry

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    UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry - June 26, 2011

    To break into the top five of this countdown, a knockout must be absolutely epic. With the tale of Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry being told as the greatest comeback in MMA history, it meets that criteria.

    Barry dominated the early-goings of this matchup, and some say that he knocked Kongo out twice. However, with Kongo recovering quickly, he was able to return to his feet before Dan Miragliotta could step in.

    With Barry swarming and looking for the stoppage, Kongo regained some composure and unleashed an incredible right uppercut that gave Barry a meeting with the sandman. 

3. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski

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    Affliction: Day of Reckoning - January 24, 2009

    It takes some serious knockout power to make two appearances in the top five.

    If the UFC can't sign Fedor to a contract, the top stars from the organization would come to Fedor. After former UFC champion Tim Sylvia was quickly dispatched by "The Last Emperor," another titleholder stepped up to the plate in the form of Andrei Arlovski.

    Arlovski has stellar boxing and knockout power that the rest of the division envied, so his chances of winning a stand-up battle were pretty good. However, nobody told Fedor.

    After being able to pressure Fedor into a corner, "The Pitbull" was ready to pounce. However, as soon as he began to leap for a flying knee, Fedor landed an incredible counter hook that sent Arlovski crashing into the canvas. 

    No follow-up strikes were needed.

2. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Wanderlei Silva

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    PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute - September 10, 2006

    In the semifinal round of the PRIDE openweight tournament, longtime middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva met Mirko Cro Cop in a battle of knockout kings. 

    The legacy of Cro Cop's brutal head kicks continued to grow with this fight, as he put down Silva in incredible fashion. A bloodied and beaten Wanderlei fell limply to the canvas in what was his first stoppage loss in eight years.

    While openweight contests have been excluded from this list, this PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute fight was a true heavyweight bout, as Silva tipped the scales at 225 pounds.

1. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Cro Cop

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    UFC 70 - April 21, 2007

    Speaking of head kicks...and Mirko Cro Cop...

    With a shot at the UFC heavyweight title on the line, grappling wizard Gabriel Gonzaga would have been best suited to take knockout artist Mirko Cro Cop to the ground. However, sometimes the traditional strategy isn't the best.

    Gonzaga went toe-to-toe with Cro Cop and even finished the PRIDE legend with his own signature move in the very first round.

    The head kick that finished this fight will live on forever in highlight reels and is unquestionably the greatest knockout in the history of the heavyweight division.

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    Andrew Saunders is a Featured Columnist III for Bleacher Report. Following him on Twitter is medically proven to make you smarter and more appealing to women. Do it now!