Best MMA Knockouts of 2013

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2014

Best MMA Knockouts of 2013

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    Knockouts are the bee's knees.  Everybody likes them.

    Whether it's a spinning heel kick or a blistering uppercut, fans salivate at the opportunity to see a fighter leave his body just for a moment.

    After all, isn't that element of surprise the reason why we watch?

    In any case, last year produced some of the most memorable knockouts of all time. Based strictly on technique, timing, damage and divisional importance, here are the best limb-to-chin connections of 2013.

     "I don't try to intimidate anybody before a fight. That's nonsense. I intimidate people by hitting them."  —Mike Tyson

Honorable Mention I: Tyron Woodley

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    Since coming over from Strikeforce, welterweight stud Tyron Woodley has been absolutely punishing opponents.

    Both of his 2013 victories came by way of vicious first-round knockouts, including a Knockout of the Night performance opposite divisional grandpa Josh Koscheck at UFC 167.

    So while his steady performances don't make this list, they deserve some recognition.

Honorable Mention II: Robbie Lawler

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    In an unprecedented climb to stardom and contention, Robbie Lawler has gone from middleweight wash-up to welterweight boss in a matter of 11 months.

    His three UFC victories have fueled one of the most impressive streaks of his 12-year career. Buried under that success lies two gripping knockouts over Koshcheck and Bobby Voelker.

    Man, "Kos" seems to be on the wrong end of a lot misery these days.

15. Alexander Shlemenko vs. Doug Marshall at Bellator 109

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    Consistently overlooked when it comes to the most elite fighters in the sport today, Russian standout Alexander Shlemenko absolutely schooled Doug Marshall at Bellator 109.

    Even in the midst of fighting a middleweight contender hoped up on banned substances (Marshall later failed the post-fight drug test), "Storm" made Marshall pay with his body.

    Timed to perfection, Shlemenko landed a devastating hook to the liver that left his opponent reeling in pain.

14. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33

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    A truly ferocious finish that let people know he's still a relevant threat at light heavyweight, former UFC champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua belted James Te Huna with a short left hook to the chin.

    In front of thousands of Australia's most diehard fans, Te Huna flopped to the mat like a dead fish.

    Rua added some insurance just to make sure his divisional ticket was punched for 2014.

13. Travis Browne vs. Josh Barnett at UFC 168

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    What was pegged as a war between two heavyweight juggernauts ended up being a one-sided schoolyard bully beatdown.

    With his right elbow cocked, legs planted and eyes focused, Travis Browne made Josh Barnett's temple pay when the veteran fell to his knees.

    It was the second time in 2013 that "Hapa" ended a bout by launching a full-on elbow attack to the heart of his opponent's equilibrium.

12. Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30

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    First impressions sometimes come up short, especially in a sport like MMA.

    But in Lyoto Machida's case, his middleweight debut was everything we had hoped it would be.

    Dressed for success, cut to perfection and ready to make a statement, the former light heavyweight wizard made quick work of top contender Mark Munoz by securing a scintillating first-round head kick.

11. Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32

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    Vitor Belfort was arguably the best fighter of 2013, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that his first-round knockout of Dan Henderson back in November makes the cut.

    The dominating finish was not only impressive, considering it was Belfort's third in a row, but more so because it came against a guy like "Hendo." Because for years, Henderson has demonstrated one of the best chins in MMA. 

    Oh, how that changed with one memorable head kick from "The Phenom" on a spotlit night in Goiania, Brazil.

10. Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez at UFC on Fox 9

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    UFC fans often have a hard time warming up to the flyweight crop heap because they lack, well, a certain kind of power.

    Sure they offer world-class speed and technique, but rarely do we see a one-punch knockout that floors the entire division.

    Of course, that was until Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson solidified his flyweight throne and pound-for-pound status by nearly decapitating Joseph Benavidez at UFC on Fox 9.

9. Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6

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    Liver kicks are more rare than Cody Mckenzie knockouts. So when they happen, you need to take special notice.

    That's why Anthony Pettis' sensational body-kick knockout of Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6 makes this list without hesitation. 

    The fact that "Showtime" emphatically ended one of the bigger rivalries of the year was merely icing on the cake.

8. Emanuel Newton vs. Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 90

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    Easily one of the flashiest finishes you'll ever see, Emanuel Newton's spinning back-fist knockout of Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal back in February was simply sensational.

    More awkward timing than planned success, Newton spun wildly to catch the unsuspecting light heavyweight bruiser in his tracks.

    It served as one of the biggest upsets in Bellator history and one of the most unheralded stoppages of 2013.

7. Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel TV 8

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    Violent and impressively timed, Mark Hunt's come-from-behind jaw-breaking knockout of Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel TV 8 more or less put the Samoan back on the map.

    As an imposing figure for any heavyweight to deal with, Struve gave Hunt problems for the majority of the fight. Pressing forward with long limbs and sensational ground skills, he all but had the decision locked up.

    That was until Hunt winged one of his infamous leaping left hooks to send "The Skyscraper" flying into the cage. It consequently produced one of the coolest pictures of all time.

6. Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold; Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping

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    Equally impressive, Vitor Belfort's consecutive finishes over Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 and former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8 were downright vicious.

    Lined with superb technique and overwhelming power, the 36-year-old Brazilian leveled both top middleweights with two separately perfected head kicks.

    The dynamic finishes helped launch Belfort back into title contention and proved that the tenured veteran is still finding new ways to win.

5. Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8

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    Like two ironclad tanks strapped with three tons of C-4, mixed martial arts legend Wanderlei Silva and American hero Brian Stann went to war at UFC on Fuel TV 8.

    Blessed with some of the best power strikes in the sport, either fighter could have found their hand raised at the end of the night.

    But it was a vicious combination by "The Axe Murderer" late into the second round that sent "The All-American" flopping to the canvas.

4. Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night 26

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    When there's nothing left to do, when you're on the brink of disaster, the only means of escaping inevitable defeat is to up-kick your way out of trouble.

    Now while this theory doesn't work for modern-day problems like losing your car keys or forgetting to put the toilet seat down, it did work inside the Octagon for Browne back in August.

    All he needed to do was penetrate Alistair Overeem's wide Dutch stance with powerful kicks to his chin, thus creating one of the most memorable comeback finishes in UFC history.

3. Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt at UFC 160

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    Already one of the best heavyweight strikers in UFC history, Junior dos Santos added to his formidable striking pallet at UFC 160 when he finished the hard-headed Mark Hunt by spinning heel kick.

    The unpredictable finish was not impressive just because it came against a seasoned striker like Hunt but also because it came in the third round.

    Just another day at the office for JDS and another example of Octagon mastery.

2. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva vs. Alistair Overeem at UFC 156

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    Driven by vengeful emotions and unwavering anger, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva's actions inside the cage at UFC 156 forced Alistair Overeem to respect him.

    Because when you get beat up like a punching bag in Rocky Balboa's gym, especially after demoralizing your opponent pre-fight, is there anything else left to do than respect him?

    Silva's knockout was even more memorable considering Herb Dean had to rip him off of a dazed Overeem like he was a leech on flesh.

1. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 162

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    In a year that can be called Chris Weidman's, the new middleweight king sparked his prolific championship reign by supplanting Anderson Silva at UFC 162.

    Weidman's second-round knockout of the most elusive man in mixed martial arts history boggled millions of minds, souls and eyes.

    It was by far the best knockout of the year and one that sparked the biggest rematch of all time. This has been said a lot, but it just goes to show you that anything is possible in this sport.

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