Best Knockout Artist in Every MMA Weight Division

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2013

Best Knockout Artist in Every MMA Weight Division

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    The art of knocking out an opponent can be the most exciting facet in mixed martial arts.  It often serves as the sport's most desired spectacle.

    While power is a key component in securing an empowered one-strike finish, technique is often utilized as the overall infrastructure.

    In today's MMA, each evolving weight class sports its own set of explosive leather fists.  Attached to those fists is a fighter who holds no regard in keeping his or her opponent conscious.

    So based on past performances, future potential and overall ability, here are the most prolific knockout artists in the sport today.

Women's Bantamweight: Holly Holm

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    While Holly Holm hasn't been around long enough to garnish serious respect around the sport as a bona fide knockout specialist, her boxing background will propel her into that role sooner than later.

    For Holm, who was, and probably still is, one of the best female boxers in the world, letting her hands lead the way is going to translate into immediate success in a more diverse and technical sport.

    In the past, MMA fans have seen the destruction that a worthy boxer can do inside the cage.  Think of Junior dos Santos.

    As long as Holm can stay away from wrestlers, shake off grapplers and stay on her feet, she'll transform into one of the most heavy-handed knockout artists in the women's bantamweight division.

Flyweight: John Dodson

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    Based on raw power and the ability to explode on an opponent, John Dodson is the biggest flyweight threat on the planet to produce a devastating knockout.

    The only problem is that knockouts are rarely seen amongst flyweights because they possess the speed and elusiveness to avoid them, but when they do occur, a guy like Dodson is usually responsible.

    In any case, his six career finishes by way of knockout, as well as his efforts opposite UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, are adequate proof that Dodson is one of the best finishers at his weight.

Bantamweight: Michael McDonald

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    While a handful of bantamweights possess the capability of knocking out any fighter that stands in their way, none of them inhibits the raw brutality of Michael McDonald's hands.

    Through just 17 fights, "Mayday" has already compiled nine knockouts, including devastating finishes over Miguel Angel Torres and Alex Soto.

    The 22-year-old has been impressive and should wreak havoc on the UFC bantamweight division for years to come.  Once he harnesses the art of footwork and improves his head movement, McDonald could slug his way to a title.

Featherweight: Jose Aldo

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    Currently one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo possesses skills often depicted by extraterrestrials in science fiction movies.

    Basically, the Brazilian's perfected ability to defend takedowns, pick apart his opponent with piercing leg kicks and outlast any title contender he encounters is otherworldly.

    But what most fail to realize, beyond all the glitz and glamor, is that Aldo is still the most seasoned knockout artist in the division.

    Throughout his prolific and highly touted career, "Scarface" has ended 13 fights by either crisp hands, powerful knees or aerial attacks.  He's done so in a rather unassuming way, but Aldo still forces his way to the top of this list with ease.

Lightweight: Melvin Guillard

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    Two important and alarming numbers come to mind when discussing Melvin Guillard's striking prowess: 19 and one.

    Nineteen is the number of knockouts that "The Young Assassin" currently sports on his professional resume.

    One is the number of times that he's been finished by punches. 

    That's one of the most absurdly impressive lopsided ratios in mixed martial arts.

    The bottom line is that Guillard rarely succumbs to a knockout, so he's able to stay in the pocket, wing power shots and watch his masterpiece play out firsthand.

    So whether you respect his upper-division competitiveness or not, Guillard is basically a welterweight dominating a lightweight's world.

Welterweight: Johny Hendricks

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    Like a medieval catapult, Johny Hendricks' hands not only stop fights, but they launch his opponents across the cage.

    Hendricks' ascent atop the welterweight rankings as been unprecedented.  Not because his skills aren't up to par or he doesn't deserve it, but because "Bigg Rigg" has literally decapitated every relevant contender who stands in his way of acquiring a title.

    Just look at what he did to Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann.  Those guys have never been hit harder in their lives, let alone in a professional mixed martial arts bout broadcast in front of millions.

    At this point, it's safe to say that Hendricks may be the most dangerous knockout artist seen since the days of Chuck Liddell.  He's just doing it in a different division that produces talent-rich versatility more than any other.

Middleweight: Vitor Belfort

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    Despite public ridicule and communal deformation, Vitor Belfort still stands alone as the best middleweight in the world at knocking people senseless.

    Sure, the Brazilian has had some trouble against lengthier opponents like Jon Jones, but those lackluster performances weren't contested within Belfort's weight class.

    And even at the ripe age of 36, Belfort is still one of the most feared first-round combatants in the universe.  His innate ability to attack early and with bolstered ferocity separates the former UFC champion from others trying to match his pace.

    He's been called a phenom for a reason. He has knocked out the best of the best and is still competing at a high level, no matter what he has to ingest in order to get there.

Light Heavyweight: Wanderlei Silva

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    Similar to Vitor Belfort's continuous destruction amongst unsuspecting middleweights, the magnificent and timeless Wanderlei Silva is still chugging along and bopping chins late into his career.

    Silva's ability to bounce back from defeat and dominate in his next fight is borderline unmatchable.  He's done it so often that you really don't what you're going to get when "The Axe Murderer" steps inside the cage.

    But even though winning and losing may be skewed for Silva when he finds himself angrily strutting to the Octagon, he's always a lock to turn any fight into a brawl.  That's why he's still dangerous and why his power is still admirable.

Heavyweight: Roy Nelson

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    Respect him or not, Roy Nelson has become the quintessential one-punch knockout specialist that the heavyweight division relies on for entertaining barbarianism.

    This stat has been listed before, but it deserves more praise than ever.  Nelson has finished every one of his victories by knockout or TKO since 2007.

    If anything has ever screamed consistency and potency, it's that unfathomable statistic.  As a result, "Big Country" has been able to accumulate a total of 12 career knockouts in a division filled with giants, big foots, bone snappers and athletic freaks.

    For Nelson, he has used raw strength, fueled by a poultry-filled belly, to behead almost every relevant name in his path.

    It's become almost inevitable that the 36-year-old will win by strikes, which has been unseen amongst heavyweights for a long time.

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