Most Unexpected Knockouts in MMA History

Adam HillContributor IIIJune 11, 2013

Most Unexpected Knockouts in MMA History

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    Every fight fan loves a good knockout, but those that are truly memorable are the ones that occur unexpectedly. Often surprising, they are a constant reminder of the unpredictability of MMA.

    Whether the fight is finished by the underdog or a knockout comes by way of spectacular means, something jaw-dropping seems to happen on almost every fight card.

    In a sea of impressive knockouts, these stand as prime examples of the unexpected.

Honorable Mentions

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    Seth Petruzelli vs. Kimbo Slice (EliteXC: Heat) 

    Kimbo Slice, the "street-certified" brawler, was being billed as the next big thing in MMA. On the day of the fight, Seth Petruzelli replaced an injured Ken Shamrock. He then proceeded to knock out the heavily favored Slice in 14 seconds.

    The swift finish killed the aura of invincibility surrounding Slice. Only 16 days after the fight, EliteXC announced that the promotion would cease operations.

    Watch the fight here.

    Emanuel Newton vs. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (Bellator 90)

    "King Mo" came into Bellator as the front-runner to win the Season 8 light heavyweight tournament; however, in the semifinals, he ran face-first into Emanuel Newton's spinning back fist. The shot stiffened Lawal's legs and sent him falling to the mat like a freshly cut tree. 

    Watch the knockout here.

    Gary Goodridge vs. Paul Herrera (UFC 8: David vs. Goliath)

    Gary Goodridge, a former professional arm wrestler, caught Paul Herrera in a crucifix position and proceeded to land eight hard elbows to his face. Herrera was out cold after the second strike. This fight remains a shining example of why the 12-to-6 elbows were made illegal under the Unified Rules of MMA.

    Watch the fight here.

Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt

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    UFC 160 – Las Vegas – May 25, 2013

    Junior dos Santos, the former UFC heavyweight champ, is primarily known for his boxing. He used his fast hands to great effect in his last fight with power puncher Mark Hunt at UFC 160.

    It was a back-and-forth war, but "Cigano" began picking apart the exhausted Hunt in the later rounds. Dos Santos was cruising to an easy unanimous-decision victory, when out of nowhere he threw a spinning heel kick that floored the "Super Samoan."

    JDS not only became the first man to knock out Hunt in the UFC, but the finish also helped to reassert him as one of the preeminent heavyweights in the world.  

Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko

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    Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson – Hoffman Estates, Ill. – July 30, 2011

    "In many ways it's the H-Bomb versus the F-Bomb tonight." That's what veteran fight commentator Mauro Ranallo said of this showdown between these two legends of the sport.

    Dan Henderson locked horns with Fedor Emelianenko in a heavyweight matchup for the ages. Sure, Fedor was coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in his career, but this was still a fight that MMA fans had been dreaming about since the glory days of Pride.

    Though It seemed unlikely that either of these fighters would get knocked out, it didn't stop them from dropping bombs with reckless abandon.

    It was an epic war of fisticuffs. Both Henderson and Fedor got in some good licks. "The Last Emperor" dropped Henderson against the cage. Fedor jumped on him trying to finish.

    However, Henderson, an Olympic-level wrestler, slipped out and landed a short right uppercut on the button. The follow-up punches were academic and ref Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight. It was the first "real" knockout of Fedor's career.

    Only a few fights later, "The Last Emperor" hung up his gloves and retired from MMA.

    Watch the fight here.

Jamie Varner vs. Edson Barboza

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    UFC 146 – Las Vegas – May 26, 2012

    Edson Barboza was coming off a crazy spinning wheel kick knockout of Terry Etim. Jamie Varner was the former WEC lightweight champ, but hadn't fought in the UFC for over five years. 

    Barboza was supposed to face Evan Dunham, but an injury forced him out of the fight. This opened the door for Varner to step in as a late replacement. Not surprisingly, Varner was a long shot and the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena were clearly in Barboza's corner.  

    Varner got peppered with nasty leg kicks, but remained undeterred. He threw caution to the wind, waded in and landed a beautifully timed combination.

    Barboza crumpled against the cage. Varner swarmed the Brazilian and finished the fight with hammer-fists at 3:23 of the first round. The loss was the first of Barboza's professional career. 

    Sherdog named Varner's knockout of Barboza as the 2012 Upset of the Year.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Filipović

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    UFC 70 – Manchester, England – April 21, 2007

    Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović entered the UFC as the 2006 Pride World Grand Prix open-weight champion, having beaten Josh Barnett in the finals.

    "Cro Cop" was the head-kick king and his saying, "right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery" was no joke. He had defeated five opponents via head kick, including Wanderlei Silva.   

    He took on Gabriel Gonzaga in a heavyweight title eliminator fight at UFC 70. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that "Cro Cop" would easily win the fight and get a crack at Randy Couture's belt.

    Instead, Gonzaga shocked the MMA world when he knocked out "Cro Cop" with his his own patented head kick. He rubber-legged Filipović with a shin to the dome. The finish was voted as Knockout of the Year (2007).

    After the devastating loss, "Cro Cop's" UFC career never recovered. He finished his tenure in the organization with a record of 4-6.

Cung Le vs. Rich Franklin

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    UFC on Fuel TV: Franklin vs. Le – Macao, China – Nov. 10, 2012

    At the UFC's first event in China, former middleweight title holders Cung Le and Rich "Ace" Franklin collided in the main event. Franklin was hoping a win over Le would put him on course for another title run before he called it quits.

    Going into the fight, Le was a massive underdog, while Franklin looked to be in the best shape of his career.

    The two circled the Octagon with Franklin getting the better of the early exchanges. Then, in an uncharacteristically sloppy moment, Franklin dropped his hands, leaving his chin open. Le capitalized on this mistake and connected with a clean right.

    The punch sent Franklin spinning around like a top and landing face first on the canvas. Le not only earned a Knockout of the Night bonus, but also the finish was named Knockout of the Year (2012).

    Watch the devastating knockout here.

Robbie Lawler vs. Melvin Manhoef

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    Strikeforce: Miami – Sunrise, Fla. – Jan. 30, 2010

    Melvin Manhoef may very well be the hardest hitting MMA fighter never to compete inside the Octagon. In his Strikeforce debut, the Muay Thai kickboxer took on "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler, a fighter known for his one-punch knockout power.

    During the first round, Manhoef hobbled Lawler with brutal leg kicks. He went in for the kill, but left his chin exposed. Lawler made him pay for this lapse in judgment, connecting with a right hook that knocked "No Mercy" down. A follow-up shot ended the fight and separated Manhoef from his senses.

    Lawler then limped around the cage injured, but victorious.

    Watch the fight here.

Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture

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    UFC 129 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – April 30, 2011

    After his knockout of MMA legend Randy Couture at UFC 129, Lyoto Machida should change his nickname from "The Dragon" to "The Karate Kid." 

    Most fight fans are familiar with the classic 1984 film "The Karate Kid" starring Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita. More importantly, they all remember the end of the movie when Daniel LaRusso beats the punk from Cobra Kai with a totally awesome crane kick to the face. 

    While very cool, it seemed highly unlikely that any "real" fighter would use such a technique, but don't tell that to Machida. At 1:02 of the second round, "The Dragon" not only threw a crane kick, but it landed flush to Couture's chin, knocking out the former champ.

    The finish was named the 2011 Knockout of the Year at the Sherdog Awards. Mr. Miyagi would be so proud.

Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell

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    UFC 88: Breakthrough – Atlanta – Sept. 6, 2008

    This is the fight that made Rashad Evans' career. He was a huge underdog heading into his tilt with former light heavyweight kingpin Chuck Liddell.

    Liddell was coming off a Fight of the Year performance against Wanderlei Silva and looking to get back into title contention, but "Suga" had different plans.

    Midway through the second round, Evans landed a beautiful looping haymaker that caught "the Iceman" square on the chin. Liddell crumpled to the canvas in a heap. That one punch essentially ended Liddell's MMA career, as he never won another fight inside the Octagon.

    The finish was named Knockout of the Year (2008) and catapulted Evans into the upper echelon of the division. He earned a shot at light heavyweight gold in his next bout.

Matt Serra vs. Georges St-Pierre

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    UFC 69 – Houston – April 7, 2007

    Matt Serra earned a shot at the welterweight title after winning Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter. He defeated Chris Lytle in the finals of the show, but taking down Georges St-Pierre would be a horse of a completely different color.

    At the time, GSP only had one blemish on his record. He seemed unbeatable and was a 10:1 favorite going into the fight.

    In what is widely regarded as the greatest upset in UFC history, Serra knocked out St-Pierre to become the welterweight champ. He blasted GSP with a hard right and finished him with ground-and-pound at the 3:25 mark of the first round.

    To this day, Serra is one of five fighters to hold the welterweight strap and the only man to ever knock out St-Pierre.