The 25 Nastiest Knockouts in MMA History
Arguably the most aesthetically pleasing finish in mixed martial arts is a knockout.
Take your pick: head kick, elbow or, in Dan Henderson's case, a forearm smash to the face—all have garnered praise amongst fighters and fans alike, building the careers of many notable combatants in the sport and building their legacies for years to come.
Here, we take a look at some of the more memorable and brutally devastating knockout finishes in MMA history.
25. Arthur Guseinov vs. Tyson Jeffries
You see it from time to time in fights, but rarely can someone land a spinning back fist in MMA—not in the case of one Arthur Guseinov, who blasted Tyson Jeffries with a beautifully timed fist to the face that sent Jeffries crashing to the canvas, out cold before he hit the mat.
24. Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
In the early days of "Kid" Yamamoto's reign as king of the featherweight class, Norifumi had a bevy of memorable finishes, but none more devastating than that of the unheralded Kazuyuki Miyata, who later became a top contender overseas, challenging for the DREAM featherweight title.
Unfortunately, Miyata was the victim of a brutal flying knee to the grill some years ago.
23. Paul Daley vs. Scott Smith
In his organizational debut with Strikeforce, Paul Daley took on the dangerous Scott Smith, who was properly dubbed "Hands of Steel" thanks to some of his devastating knockout finishes, to which UFC vets Benji Radach and Cung Le have fallen victim.
Well, not Daley, who blasted Smith with a picture-perfect counter left hook at 2:57 of the video.
22. Dan Hornbuckle vs. Akihiro Gono
Dan Hornbuckle, at that point of his career, was a fighter on the rise but had yet to capture a highlight-reel signature win.
In arguably his toughest test to date, Hornbuckle met with UFC and Pride vet Akihiro Gono, who has competed as high as 205 pounds in the past but here met the wily fighter at welterweight.
Hornbuckle blasted the Japanese star with a highlight-reel head kick knockout—the most devastating loss of Gono's illustrious career.
21. Robbie Lawler vs. Melvin Manhoef
Robbie Lawler has always been known as a man with some brutal power that came at the end of his fists, but he was taking on unarguably the most decorated striker of his career in the form of K-1 veteran Melvin Manhoef.
The Dutch striker was getting the better of Lawler early with some crippling leg kicks, but the Miletich product found his opening and uncorked a right hand that sent Manhoef crashing to the mat and sealed the deal with subsequent ground-and-pound blows that left him out cold.
The end came at 3:33 of the opening round.
20. Hayato Sakurai vs. Olaf Alfonso
The always game Olaf Alfonso—a veteran of the WEC—was used as a feeder for then-lightweight destroyer Hayato Sakurai.
Alfonso proved formidable for the early going of the bout, but his chin was again tested and failed to pass, as Sakurai blasted him with a crushing right hook that sent Alfonso wilting to the floor.
The end came at 1:54 of the opening round.
19. Tank Abbott vs. Dave Matua
In any Tank Abbott victory, you can expect to see a highlight-reel finish, and one of his more memorable finishes came at the expense of John Matua in Abbott's mixed martial arts debut.
In just 18 seconds, Abbott left Matua board-stiff on the canvas in one of the more brutal knockouts of his career.
18. Don Frye vs. Thomas Ramirez
Talk about a memorable MMA debut.
Don Frye's inception into the sport at UFC 8 came on the heels of a successful collegiate wrestling career that eventually brought him to the pinnacle of MMA.
In his first bout, Frye took on Thomas Ramirez, finishing off the unassuming fighter in just eight seconds—at the time the fastest knockout in UFC history, which was later upped by the young Todd Duffee some years later.
17. Phil Baroni vs. Dave Menne
In his earlier days, Phil Baroni was thought to be the next big thing in the middleweight division, thanks to his speed and devastating knockout power.
In his third bout with the UFC, Baroni was pitted against former 185-pound kingpin Dave Menne, who fell victim to Baroni's most memorable finish when he barraged Menne with punch after punch, wilting the former champion against the cage out cold in just 18 seconds of cage time.
16. Rory Markham vs. Brodie Farber
Though Rory Markham washed out of the UFC with a 1-2 record, he left behind this gem.
In his debut with the organization, Markham took on fellow newcomer Brodie Farber, who in the early going of the fight got the better of the IFL vet before the Miletich product uncorked a highlight-reel head kick KO.
15. Wanderlei Silva vs. Kazushi Sakuraba III
Why Pride put Kazushi Sakuraba through three fights with "The Axe Murderer" Wanderlei Silva, we will never know.
But the Japanese star took on the Brazilian in a rubber match in 2003, where the Chute Boxe product devastated Sakuraba with a right hook that sent the former professional wrestler crashing to the canvas.
14. Gary Goodridge vs. Oleg Taktarov
In the very first Pride event held, UFC vet Gary Goodridge made history when he took on fellow Octagon warrior Oleg Taktarov.
Goodridge connected on a swift right hand that sent "The Russian Bear" to the mat, where "Big Daddy" pounced with some more brutal rights to the head.
Jump to about the 3:00 mark to see where the action picks up.
13. Brad Kohler vs. Steve Judson
Though the 5'9" Brad Kohler was never a force in the heavyweight division, he always had that one-punch knockout power lingering in his back pocket.
In his lone UFC appearance, Kohler made an emphatic entrance by blasting Steve Judson with a lunging one-punch finish that took all of 30 seconds of cage time.
12. Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell
After Chuck Liddell turned in his "Fight of the Year" victory over former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva, "The Iceman" looked to be back in form and on his way back towards a shot at the title.
In his way was budding contender Rashad Evans, who upset the former light heavyweight kingpin with a lightning-fast right hook that sent Liddell out cold before he hit the deck.
This gave Evans a shot at the title, which he eventually clinched by finishing Forrest Griffin with third-round strikes.
11. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Cro Cop
In a No. 1 contenders bout, Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop met in a heavyweight affair in 2007.
Cro Cop was considered the consummate favorite thanks to his historic career in Pride, though Gonzaga was primed for the upset, as he finished off the former K-1 kickboxer with a highlight head kick knockout—an ironic finish considering the Croatian's signature finishes have come courtesy of head kick KOs.
10. Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns
Anthony Johnson has been properly dubbed "Rumble," as the welterweight heavy hitter has run through most opposition in his path.
Kevin Burns and Johnson had some history stemming from their controversial first encounter, which ended thanks to Burns stabbing Johnson in the eye with his fingers.
Their rematch ended with less controversy, as Johnson flatlined Burns with a head-snapping kick to the face that sent "The Fire" out before he hit the deck, giving Johnson closure with the victory.
9. Rashad Evans vs. Sean Salmon
Evans was having some trouble with the wily Salmon in the early going of their light heavyweight tilt.
Hailing from a wrestling background, Salmon proved game with a takedown in the beginning moments of the fight.
However, Evans put an end to the bout when he connected on a highlight-reel head kick that sent Salmon stiffened and out cold, giving Evans the most devastating finish of his career.
8. Marlon Sandro vs. Masanori Kanehara
The consensus was that the heavy-handed Marlon Sandro would eventually meet featherweight great Hatsu Hioki at the end of the Sengoku Grand Prix. However, Sandro was upset by Michihiro Omigawa, and Hioki bowed out due to injury.
In the end, Sandro reemerged as a top contender in the division when he knocked out Yuji Hoshino and Tomonari Kanomata in succession before taking on Masanori Kanehara, who reigned as the Sengoku champion.
Sandro wasted little time in finishing off the lanky Japanese fighter, who was fresh off an impressive performance opposite Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto.
Jump to 6:15 in the video—the fight doesn't last too long.
7. Yves Edwards vs. Josh Thomson
It wasn't all that long ago that the UFC reintroduced the lightweight division following a hiatus for the weight class, but some years ago, both Josh Thomson and Yves Edwards were the two men at the top of the mountain.
It was a sort of "who's the baddest dude" at 155 when both Edwards and Thomson eventually met, where the "Thugjitsu Master" took home a highlight-reel knockout courtesy of a well-timed head kick.
6. Sam Stout vs. Yves Edwards
Dubbed by UFC president Dana White "one of the nastiest knockouts" he'd ever seen, lightweight bangers Yves Edwards and Sam Stout met one another this April, with the winner likely moving up the ladder edging closer to title contention.
As Edwards connected on a right hook of his own, Stout came over the top with a looping left that caught Edwards perfectly on the chin, garnering "Hands of Stone" his first knockout finish in years.
5. Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson II
One of the more memorable rivalries in mixed martial arts exists between Pride veterans Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson.
The two light heavyweight notables met first in the Middleweight Grand Prix in 2003, where Silva finished "Rampage" with a bevy of strikes that sent the durable fighter wilting to the canvas.
Jackson later met the Brazilian for his title, and the Chute Boxe product scored a more emphatic finish when he sent the future UFC champion crashing through the ropes courtesy of a crushing knee to the face.
4. Quinton Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona
Jackson's most memorable knockout, of course, is his battle with submission wiz Ricardo Arona.
The Brazilian was beginning to cinch off a triangle choke, which Jackson answered by hoisting him into the air and slamming him to the canvas, knocking him out with the devastating blow.
3. Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo Souza
In the finals of DREAM's Middleweight Grand Prix, Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza met one another in a pivotal 185-pound battle.
Souza's impressive grappling acumen came into play, as the Brazilian brought Mousasi to the floor, where he controlled him with superior positioning. Just as Souza stepped up the tempo and made an effort to finish, Mousasi connected on a hard upkick to the face that knocked out the ADCC veteran instantly.
Jump to the 3:00 mark for the beginning of the end.
2. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski
In a blockbuster heavyweight battle under the now-defunct Affliction banner, former Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko took on former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski.
Then considered the consensus No. 1 fighter in the division, Emelianenko was lit up by the striking acumen of Arlovski, who spent time training with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach.
Just as "The Pitbull" began to pour on the attack, he leaped in the air for a flying knee that was countered by a right hook, which sent Arlovski out cold in mid-flight.
1. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping
Dan Henderson, though he has had many battles since then, will always be remembered for his middleweight battle with Michael Bisping.
The fight served as the culmination of the two serving as coaches on the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter. A lot of bad feelings brewed, and it culminated in the most emphatic knockout finish in recent memory—at least in the career of Henderson, who scored the "Knockout of the Year" for the performance.