Knockout of the Year Watch: April 2013 Edition

Sean SmithAnalyst IApril 9, 2013

Knockout of the Year Watch: April 2013 Edition

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    Marlon Moraes took advantage of the UFC's lull in action between UFC 158 and UFC on Fuel TV 9, scoring the most impressive knockout of the past month.

    With his win over Tyson Nam, Moraes has become one of the faces of the up-and-coming World Series of Fighting organization. Though there won't be any title fights in his immediate future, Moraes is gaining more and more recognition as one of the best bantamweights in the world with every win he picks up, having also defeated former WEC champion Miguel Torres under the WSOF banner.

    As we move into what is sure to be one of the UFC's busier months of 2013, more stunning knockouts are likely to surpass Moraes' finish of Nam.

    However, let's take a look at where Moraes currently stands in the race for Knockout of the Year.

5. Antonio Silva

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    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.

4. Marlon Moraes

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    Event: WSOF 2

    Opponent: Tyson Nam

    Knockout Method: Head kick and punches

    Tyson Nam's World Series of Fighting debut came on the heels of a first-round knockout of Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas. With that win, many considered Nam to be one of the better 135-pound fighters in the world, so he was expected to be a tough test for Marlon Moraes.

    Nobody was sleeping on Moraes heading into the bout either, though. The 24-year-old had beaten former WEC champion Miguel Torres in his previous outing and was beginning to look like one of the brightest young bantamweight fighters in MMA.

    The battle of the hot prospects was ultimately won by Moraes, who made a serious statement by putting Nam away in under three minutes with a well-placed head kick.

3. Vitor Belfort

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    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

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    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 is a rematch with Douglas Lima, who knocked him out in a previous tournament final in November 2011.

1. Emanuel Newton

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    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.