MMA has come a long way. But it hasn't come that far.
Few things in sports touch off a powder keg of emotion like an old-fashioned beatdown. It's simultaneously compelling and repelling, frightening and exciting. Lots of visceral stuff mixed up in there.
Here are my picks for the 20 nastiest, most dominant beatdowns in mixed martial arts.
They are not necessarily the goriest, though there will be blood. Oh, there's blood. And it's more than just a single flash of leather; it's sustained dominance. In this case, that dominance tends to come from the striking phase of the game, as I am personally disinclined to measure a beatdown in units of Octagon control. It is a "beat"down, after all, not a "grapple"down.
With that, please enjoy.
When: UFC 3, Sept. 9, 1994
Result: TKO (strikes), 1:59 or round 1
I guess at some point he changed his name to Emmanuel Yarborough. But he’ll always be That Really Enormous Fat Guy to me.
In any case, Hackney recovers after being literally tossed out of the Octagon to land 36 unanswered strikes. In this video, he does so to the dulcet tones of “You’re the Best Around.” There’s no downside here.
When: UFC 118, Aug. 28, 2010
Result: Submission (armbar), 2:01 of Round 1
Before their fight, these two waged a fairly nasty war of words, culminating when Ruediger presented Lauzon with a “Sorry For Your Loss” cake at the weigh-in.
Unfortunately for Ruediger, it was the only good shot he got in all weekend.
Not the world’s greatest video quality. Then again, I’m not the Coen brothers. Just watch the thing.
When: UFC 15; Oct. 17, 1997
Result: TKO (strikes), 8:17 of Round 1
Given his longevity and mild personality, it can be easy to forget that Randy Couture was a bad man.
In what became a familiar formula, Couture worked his clinch to wear down Belfort with uppercuts before pounding out The Phenom on the ground to pull what was then considered a high-magnitude upset.
When: UFC 71; May 26, 2007
Result: TKO (strikes), 0:48 of Round 1
It looked like Alexander was just another tomato can after Jardine rocked him out of the gate. Little did we know that the rout—with Jardine on the receiving end—was fixing to be on.
The crowning point arrives when Jardine’s mouthpiece bounces out of his head and dribbles along the mat. That’s fighterese for "please pull this man off of me."
When: Pride 31, Feb. 26, 2006
Result: TKO (knees), 5:13 of Round 1
After Sergei ate a series of knee strikes from Overeem, who was controlling top position, I found myself thinking, "That guy needs a doctor. Now."
Sergei limped back to the locker room, gingerly holding his arm as his face seemed to swell before our eyes. Give Kharitonov credit, though. He licked his wounds and showed a lot better in their rematch a year later, when he knocked out Overeem in the K-1 promotion.
When: UFC Live, Aug. 1, 2010
Result: TKO (elbows), 1:52 of Round 1
Jones' preferred wrestling maneuver in this fight is called the crucifix. I guess the name "schoolyard-style arm-pin" is already in use for another move.
Either way, once Jones clamps down on The Janitor, it's all over. Jones lands nine unanswered elbow strikes to the face before the ref mercifully calls the stoppage.
When: Affliction: Banned; July 19, 2008
Result: Submission (rear naked choke), 0:36 of Round 1
If you run this baby frame by frame, you can almost see the point at which Tim Sylvia's fight career ends.
I also enjoyed Sylvia's reaction after the fact, reeling around like a man who was just clipped by a bread truck and is trying to gather enough wits to remember the license plate number.
When: Ultimate Fight Night 5, June 28, 2006
Result: KO (knee), 0:49 of Round 1
The knockout that started it all.
When: UFC 34; Nov. 2, 2001
Result: KO (punches), 0:11 of Round 1
The fastest beatdown on the list isn’t any less of a beatdown because of its speed.
When: UFC 121; Oct. 23, 2010
Result: TKO (strikes), 4:12 of Round 1
This could have just as easily gone to Cain’s beatdown of Ben Rothwell, but I’ll give the nod to the Lesnar dismantling because of its greater magnitude, not to mention the enduring image it created of Lesnar literally falling over himself to get out of the way of Cain’s fists.
When: UFC 64, Oct. 15, 2006
Result: KO (knee), 2:59 of Round 1
You’ve heard of chin music. In this one, Silva decides to play a little nose music.
With this brutal and historic display of Muay Thai destruction (which resulted in reconstructive surgery for Franklin), Silva captured the UFC middleweight belt and a place on the UFC star chart.
When: Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Semifinal; Sept. 10, 2006
Result: KO, 5:22 of Round 1
Cro Cop spent the first round tenderizing Wandy's noggin before finishing him with that trademark head kick.
Filipovic went on to win the Grand Prix tournament.
When: WEC 48; April 24, 2010
Result: Unanimous Decision
The only fight on this list that went the distance.
Despite the lack of a stoppage, it still ranks high for the 25-minute clinic of brutality that Aldo puts on against another great fighter in Faber, who himself showed plenty of toughness in lasting five rounds.
In this one, the featherweight champion struck more like a heavyweight, punctuating brilliant combinations with thudding leg kicks that forced Faber’s team to literally carry him to his corner between rounds—and landed Urijah on crutches the next day.
When: UFC 5; April 7, 1995
Result: TKO (cut), 4:21 of Round 1
A pretty standard olden-days-type fight (lots of pulling guard, but little else) suddenly ended in a series of brutal, brutal knee drops that tore open Taktarov’s face.
If modern ground n’ pound is a bull elephant, this was the woolly mastodon.
Wish I could find footage or even a still photo of this one, but I can’t. So here’s a stock image of Dan Severn looking like some character out of a bad Western.
When: UFC 80; Jan. 19, 2008
Result: Submission (rear naked choke), 4:02 of Round 2
That's a lot of blood. Looootta blood.
Once Penn had Daddy in the choke, you could actually watch the gore pumping out of Stevenson's head. What a treat! It was an iconic win for one of the sport's all-time greats.
When: Pride 32; Oct. 21, 2006
Result: Submission (armbar), 1:16 of Round 2
As if the fight itself—or Coleman's gigantized mug after the fact—weren't hard enough to watch, Coleman goes and ups the ante by bringing his terrified, almost grief-stricken daughters into the ring to shake the hand of the man who just finished beating up their daddy.
Congratulations to Mark Coleman for finding an efficient new way to emotionally scar two children without actually breaking any laws.
That aside, though, another masterful beatdown by one of the greatest one-man wrecking crews in the history of sports.
When: Pride Total Elimination; April 23, 2005
Result: TKO (soccer kicks), 4:47 of Round 1
No one does soccer kicks like Shogun Rua. Or did, anyway.
Though there are certainly plenty of contenders, which is probably why this list contains so many Pride fights.
I’ve seen a lot of Rampage Jackson fights, and I have to say, I have NEVER, before or since, seen Rampage look at an opponent the way he looks at Shogun at about the 4:21 mark of this video. It comes right after Rampage swallows yet another barrage of knees from the clinch.
Sit back and enjoy this virtuosic bit of ultraviolence from one of the great Muay Thai strikers in history.
When: UFC 128; March 19, 2011
Result: TKO (strikes), 2:37 of Round 3
To not only beat someone down as thoroughly as Jones did here, and to not only do it against a UFC belt holder, but to do it against someone else who is known as an all-time great in the world of beatdowns? Well, it's just a transcendent thing.
When: Pride 10; Aug. 27, 2000
Result: TKO (strikes), 10:00 of Round 1
One of the greatest strikers in MMA history has his way with Inoue, who spends much of the fight flailing on his back like a spider caught in a rain storm.
Igor takes the opportunity to fully live up to his “Ice Cold” nickname, landing shot after devastating shot from inside Inoue’s guard and then eventually while lying on top of poor Inoue's turtled-up head. After the bell, Inoue’s trainer drags the fighter's limp body back to the corner. Beatdown complete.
The video clip I found isn’t compatible with Bleacher Report, but you can find it here.
When: Pride Critical Countdown; June 26, 2005
Result: TKO (corner stoppage), 5:00 of Round 2
Go to 8:19 mark for highlights, though I have to say, the video—despite showing the approximately seven thousand piston-like knee strikes that Arona lands on the skull of the undersized Sakuraba while he has him in a choke—doesn't do it justice.
To see the full effect, scroll back to the introductory slide. See that guy who kind of looks like an alien just burst out of his head? Yes. That's the byproduct of what is, in my opinion, the worst beatdown in MMA history.