Ten Vicious MMA Head Kick KO's in Honor Of Mirko Cro Cop
Beautiful. Three syllables. One word. It's also an adjective. Beautiful can be used to describe many things. A 50 yard spiral through three defenders is beautiful. A new Porsche is beautiful. Many things are beautiful.
Want another thing that is beautiful in it's viciousness? A perfectly thrown kick, aimed for an opponents head, moving faster than a line drive into center field. The sound it makes when it connects is beautiful, sort of like a watermelon getting chopped with an axe.
One man has been kind enough to show us that kind of beauty. A Croatian kickboxer by the name of Mirko Filipovic. His head kicks are a thing of beauty. A vicious beauty personified into one fast moving left shin aimed for some poor sod's head.
But he isn't the only one to treat us with such viciousness (Or awesomeness, depending). There are many more who have given us awesome head kick beauty. I have compiled 10 of the greatest ones for your enjoyment.
10: Alan Belcher KO's Jorge Santiago
Take a look at that picture. Gather what you will from it. What I want you to notice is Alan Belcher's right shin moving towards Jorge Santiago's chin at an angle.
In just a few seconds after that picture was taken, Jorge Santiago fell to the canvas, and Belcher celebrated.
The best thing about the kick is that it was thrown at the perfect time. Jorge's right arm was extended, and therefore, his chin took that shot at full velocity.
Result: KO (And also number 10 on this list)
9: Matt Hamill KO's Mark Munoz
Matt Hamill is a hero to many. He has overcome a lot of adversity in his life. As of right now, he is the only deaf fighter in the UFC. He is as good a fighter as any (Except Jon Jones).
Against Mark Munoz at UFC 96, he was at his finest. For a few seconds, anyways. After getting Mark Munoz up against the fence, Hamill backed off for just long enough to throw a textbook head kick.
The result was vicious, devastating, quick, and awesome all rolled into one.
Mark Munoz crumbled to the canvas, and a few minutes later, Matt Hamill had his hands raised in victory. The head kick earned him a short lived reputation as possible contender, and the number nine spot on this list.
For the heck of it, Mark Munoz has decisively beat his last three opponents.
8: Mirko Cro Cop KO's Aleksander Emelianenko
When it comes to PRIDE fighters, Cro Cop has beaten them all. All except for Fedor Emelianenko. To make up for that noticable shortcoming, Cro Cop settled for viciously KOing his lesser known and somehow much larger younger brother.
Although size can often substitute for speed to some extent, it can't substitute for technicality, and in this fight, it did neither.
Aleksander Emelianenko managed to herd Cro Cop into the corner of the ring. When Emelianenko came in like a very slow moving windmill, Cro Cop ducked out of the way, and then when they were facing each other again, Cro Cop planted his foot and delivered a brutal left head kick. A Cro Cop fatality, if you will. (I did that for you, Erik.)
Emelianenko dropped like a stone through air, and Cro Cop was the holder of another lethal kick casualty.
The better known Fedor Emelianenko avenged his brother's loss two years later.
7: Gary Goodridge KO's Don Frye
The event was PRIDE Shockwave 2003. The combatants were Don Frye, legendary moustached mixed martial artist, and Gary Goodridge, known for his deadly crucifix and vicious elbows.
On this night in Japan, a shockwave was certainly felt. It was felt by all. Gary Goodridge likely felt a shockwave running up his right leg at the point of impact. Don Frye might have felt one after he woke up.
The crowd was certainly shocked, if not by the result, then by the apparent viciousness of the kick.
The accompanying photo says it all. As soon as the kick was finished slamming Frye's head, he dropped like a stone into the same position he was in at the time of the photo. Vicious.
Gary Goodridge recently retired from MMA. Don Frye and his 'stache are currently protecting Southern California nursing homes from the wrath of Tito Ortiz.
6: Rory Markham KO's Brodie Farber
Not only is this one of the best single blow KO's in MMA history, it's also one of the best comebacks in UFC history.
Before the contents of the picture, which hopefully show an awesome head kick KO, Rory Markham was actually being outboxed and outfought.
As Farber pushed Markham back, Markham waited for Farber to commit to another attack, which was a right hook this time, and when the punch was on its way, Markham unleashed a destructive right head kick.
The head kick hit Farber squarely on the chin, and as Farber dropped to the canvas, MMA fans were reminded once again that all it takes is one.
The awesomeness of this head kick got Markham awarded with KO of the Night, and the sixth spot on this list.
5: Rashad Evans KO's Sean Salmon
As great as Rashad Evans' wrestling abilities are, he doesn't get any credit for his striking. Sure, he has the power, but the awareness, the angles, the speed, he has all that too.
As evidenced by this win over Sean Salmon, Rashad Evans is a very smart fighter. If you look closely, you'll see Sean Salmon throw a jab, quickly, and then get out of range.
Instead of letting himself get picked apart, Rashad instead extended his range by throwing a lightning fast, hard-as-steel head kick, which landed to perfection.
Salmon was out on his feet and was aided by a few tiny pounds from Rashad.
4: Gilbert Yvel KO's Gary Goodridge
In a battle of men who look similar (not that you can tell, and despite the tattoos), this fight stood out for a few different reasons.
Both fighters had been somewhat successful before this fight. Gilbert Yvel was already known for his referee punching days, and Gary Goodridge had already elbowed Paul Herrera into unconsciousness with elbows from the crucifix hold.
This fight is known today for the way it ended. Gilbert Yvel threw an insane high kick. It landed.
What more is there to say? Well, Gary Goodridge didn't regain consciousness for several minutes afterwards. That alone garners it a spot on this list.
3: Anthony Johnson KO's Kevin Burns
Before their fight at the TUF 8 finale, Kevin Burns and Anthony Johnson had already fought once in the Octagon.
That fight ended via TKO for Kevin Burns. Kevin Burns should have been disqualified for multiple eye pokes, but as he wasn't, he managed to scrape Johnson's left eye with his thumb on a right hook.
The second time out, however, was a radically different story.
The second time saw Anthony Johnson pushing the pace, being the more effective striker, and easily winning the fight.
No one had any idea what kind of fireworks "Rumble" had in store for us in the third round.
After getting worked by Burns, with his back towards the cage, Anthony Johnson unleashed-unleashed being the most accurate word-a kick going Mach 6 right towards the temple of Kevin Burns.
When it landed it was devastating. The kick dropped Kevin Burns like a bad joke, and when he fell, it was clear he wasn't getting up.
After the fight, it appeared Anthony Johnson had become a dangerous striker. But as time has told, that isn't the case. However, it did earn him a spot on this list.
2: Mirko Cro Cop KO's Wanderlei Silva
Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop were PRIDE FC's baddest dudes during the middle of the decade.
Wanderlei Silva had a 14 fight win streak with notable wins over Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson(twice), Yuki Kondo, and Kazushi Sakuraba (3 times).
Mirko Cro Cop had an astonishing 24 fight period where he lost only to Mark Hunt, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Kevin Randleman.
It was inevitable these two would have a rematch.
During the rematch, Cro Cop showed who PRIDE's official baddest dude was when he threw his trademark left high kick and sent Wandy to the canvas, ending the fight.
1:???: BJ Penn KO's Diego Sanchez
Despite the fact that there is a much more obvious candidate for this spot, I figured I would show BJ some love and throw him up in this spot.
During the fifth round of their fight last December, BJ threw a great stepping high kick right into Nightmare's forehead opening a large cut.
If you haven't already, go to the real number one slide. This head kick is a joke.
The "Real" 1: Gabriel Gonzaga KO's Mirko Cro Cop
Remember when we talked about beauty? Five syllables, one word, adjective. Well, within the accompanying picture is a blur. A flesh colored blur.
Obviously, it is a foot, but it's not Cro Cop's foot. That is Cro Cop's head. You know, the one about to be severed from the neck.
Cro Cop didn't have time to register any of this. He never saw it coming. Gonzaga's foot moved from point A to point B in just under one second. No human has reaction time that fast.
The real damage occured after Cro Cop fell. His right foot was actually pointed towards his body, tearing several ligaments from his knee, and perhaps being the cause of his performance issues.
In the real MMA shot heard round the world, Gabriel Gonzaga literally dethroned the king of the heavyweight division and made a name for himself, all in the same breath.
Gonzaga, however, would go on to lose via TKO to Randy Couture.
He still gets this spot.