10 Best MMA Knockouts Through First 4 Months of 2014
Although 2014 still has eight months remaining, it has already produced some memorable MMA knockouts.
Putting on far more events than any other major MMA promotion, the UFC has obviously generated the most noteworthy knockouts over recent months. However, rising promotions Bellator MMA and World Series of Fighting have had their fair share of spectacular finishes as well.
Roy Nelson and other heavy hitters have made their mark inside the Octagon. However, some fighters who are not known for possessing knockout power have also surprised.
Who has recorded the most impressive knockout over the past four months? Here is a look at the top 10 brain-rattling finishes in MMA in 2014 so far.
10. Danny Castillo
Matchup: Charlie Brenneman at UFC 172
Danny Castillo isn't generally known as a knockout artist, but he has been showcasing his punching power more recently. "Last Call" rocked dangerous striker Edson Barboza in a decision loss at UFC on Fox 9 and went back to his boxing in a more recent outing against Charlie Brenneman.
After surrendering two takedowns in the opening round, Castillo knew he needed to get something done with his striking early in the second stanza. With the first strike he threw, a looping overhand right, he floored Brenneman in brutal fashion.
The knockout was Castillo's first since he stopped Shamar Bailey in November 2011. While it probably won't be a Knockout of the Year contender months from now, Castillo started 2014 about as well as he could with this finish.
9. Abel Trujillo
Matchup: Jamie Varner at UFC 169
Prior to his meeting with Jamie Varner at UFC 169, Abel Trujillo showed he didn't mind getting into brawls.
Nonetheless, Varner played into Trujillo's hands by pressing forward wildly. Although he started very strong, threatening Trujillo with a north-south choke and rocking the Blackzilian with punches, Varner walked right into a huge right hand in the second round.
In addition to being one of the more impressive knockouts over recent months, Trujillo's win over Varner could be a Comeback of the Year contender eight months from now. With all three of his UFC wins coming via knockout, Trujillo will look to keep his power streak going against Myles Jury on June 28.
8. Roy Nelson
Matchup: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Nogueira
At 37 years old, Roy Nelson isn't likely to make a serious run at the heavyweight championship. However, "Big Country" can still throw as hard as just about anybody in the heavyweight division.
Facing an aging Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in April, Nelson was widely expected to score a knockout win. Nevertheless, he still found a way to impress by flattening "Minotauro" forcibly with a huge right hand.
Since joining the UFC roster, Nelson has earned all seven of his wins inside the Octagon with knockouts. Regardless of his title chances, he has the ability to earn a Performance of the Night bonus every time he competes.
7. Donald Cerrone
Matchup: Adriano Martins at UFC on Fox 10
After stopping an opponent with strikes in 2011 and 2012, Donald Cerrone did not score a knockout win in 2013. Opening 2014 with a bout against Adriano Martins, Cerrone was able to put his striking on display once again.
In the final minute of the opening round, he blasted his opponent with a head kick. Martins fell to the canvas, stiff as a board.
"Cowboy" recently followed that win up with a submission victory over Edson Barboza. Before locking up the rear-naked choke, Cerrone rocked Barboza with a jab.
6. Alexander Volkov
Matchup: Siala-Mou Siliga at Bellator 116
After losing the Bellator MMA heavyweight title to Vitaly Minakov, Alexander Volkov returned to tournament competition to earn his way back to the championship.
In the opening round, he stopped Mark Holata with strikes, but that March win wasn't the Russian's best knockout of the past few months. His semifinal matchup with "Mighty" Mo ended with a nasty head-kick knockout in the opening round.
Now, Volkov is one win away from earning another shot at the heavyweight strap. He'll meet Blagoi Ivanov in the tournament finals at Bellator 120.
5. Derek Anderson
Matchup: Brandon Girtz at Bellator 113
After picking up a win over Patricky Freire in his debut with Bellator MMA, Derek Anderson found himself in the promotion's lightweight tournament quarterfinals.
Undefeated heading into his matchup with Brandon Girtz, Anderson looked to have championship potential. That did not change at Bellator 113, where he destroyed Girtz with a well-placed knee in the second stanza.
He went on to lose against Marcin Held in the semifinals. However, at 24 years old, Anderson should have a long career ahead of him with Bellator MMA.
4. Andrey Koreshkov
Matchup: Justin Baesman at Bellator 118
Having only lost to Ben Askren in 17 career bouts, Andrey Koreshkov is very capable of making a run at a 170-pound championship. In March, he returned to Bellator MMA tournament competition to begin his quest for another shot at the promotion's welterweight crown.
He started things with an impressive knockout win over UFC veteran Nah-Shon Burrell in the quarterfinals. However, the Russian stepped it up another notch in the semifinals, where he floored Justin Baesman with a flying knee in the opening round.
Now, Koreshkov will meet Adam McDonough, who stopped Nathan Coy in the other 170-pound semifinal. The winner of that bout will be next in line to challenge welterweight champion Douglas Lima.
3. Godofredo Pepey
Matchup: Noad Lahat at UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Rua 2
Godofredo Pepey finished 2013 with back-to-back knockout losses. So, he was in desperate need of a win heading into his meeting with Noad Lahat in March.
The Brazilian wasted little time returning to the win column, and he did so in remarkable fashion. Less than three minutes in, he leaped into the air and tagged Lahat with a flying knee that sent the American Kickboxing Academy product to a seated position.
With a 2-3 UFC record, Pepey may not be anywhere near the top of the featherweight division, but his knockout win over Lahat showed he could be developing the skills needed to get there one day.
2. Chris Beal
Matchup: Patrick Williams at UFC 172
There are good UFC debuts. Then, there are Octagon debuts like the one Chris Beal had in April.
Facing fellow UFC newcomer Patrick Williams, Beal recorded a knockout that is likely to stand as a Knockout of the Year contender throughout 2014. In the second round, he backed Williams down and timed a beautiful flying knee to earn his first UFC win.
Undefeated in nine official bouts, Beal is a fighter worth keeping an eye on in the bantamweight class.
1. Dong Hyun Kim
Matchup: John Hathaway at UFC Fight Night: Kim vs. Hathaway
Not long ago, Dong Hyun Kim would have been near the top of the list of fighters who were least likely to score Knockout of the Year honors. Out of nowhere, though, he is a knockout machine now.
In October 2013, he developed a taste for the finish when he caught Erick Silva with a hook while the Brazilian was pressing forward. The Knockout of the Night bonus that came with that win must have flipped a switch in Kim, who came out looking like a new fighter against John Hathaway.
Normally a conservative grappler, the Korean swung for the fences right away. Eventually, in the third round, Kim found his mark with a wild spinning elbow and flattened Hathaway.
If he can find a way to sharpen his striking, Kim could turn into a real title threat in the welterweight division.