The Best MMA Knockouts from 2019 You Haven't Seen Yet

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2019

The Best MMA Knockouts from 2019 You Haven't Seen Yet

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    ONE Championship/Getty Images

    Knockouts are one of the great things about combat sports, and they are a draw for fans. We want to see them. 2019 has supplied us all with a wealth of incredible KO performances.

    MMA events happened every week across the globe. You have seen the potential Knockout of the Year contenders from the UFC. You have seen clips like Raymond Daniels' viral KO at Bellator Birmingham. But with so many events happening from the regional and international scene, there have been plenty you have missed as well.

    Some of those crushing blows have been selected for your viewing pleasure right here.

    Kicks, knees, punches... we've got 'em all. Prospects and champions alike have come through with devastating strikes that have left their opponents in a heap on the canvas. It has been a most violent year in the sport.

    You will want to grab some popcorn before going any further, as these eight knockouts are some of the most entertaining of the year.

    Sit back and prepare yourselves for some of the best knockouts you may have missed this year.

Niu Kang Kang's Head Kick at ONE Championship: Eternal Glory

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    ONE Championship: Eternal Glory (January 19)

    ONE Championship's 2019 was largely centered around their massive March 31 event, but they quickly posted startling results before they got to their centerpiece event.

    Niu Kang Kang moved to 5-1 in his pro career with a swift 31-second knockout over Sunoto Peringkat in the third bout of the Eternal Glory show.

    Peringkat saw the kick coming, but he was reaching to catch what he thought was a body kick. The only problem was Kang was aiming higher. Kang's leg went right over the top and connected flush. Peringkat was out immediately, but the referee wasn't quick enough to stop the action before Kang landed another blow on the canvas.

    It was a clean KO and still registers as one of ONE's top finishes of the year.

Toninho 'Marajo' Gavinho Flattens Vincent Fricilone with a Flying Knee

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    LFA 58 (January 25)

    The Legacy Fighting Alliance is no stranger to a good knockout. Fight fans have been treated to some stellar performances from the organization, and those performances have sent many a fighter to the UFC. Could Toninho Gavinho be working his way to the big leagues?

    His first-round KO over Vincent Fricilone surely caught the attention of the UFC matchmakers.

    The total fight took only 40 seconds, but Gavinho put in work.

    He landed a quick, brilliant hook to the body and a knee up the gut. The early strikes caught Fricilone's attention and made him think. Marajo measured Fricilone and feinted with his right knee. As soon as Fricilone reacted, Gavinho switched to his left and ended the fight. You can skip to 0:59 in the video to see the knockout.

    It's another switch-knee KO addition to the list, but one that was well-earned.

Mansour Barnaoui Lands a Crushing Flying Knee

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    Road FC 52 (February 23)

    The bout between Mansour Barnaoui and Shamil Zavurov was not just any other bout on a Road FC event. It was the main event and the finals of their lightweight tournament. The stakes for their meeting were high.

    Barnaoui was active with his stand-up and knees early. That was the game he wanted to play from the outset, and Zavurov wanted the fight on the mat. He was able to take it there early, but Barnaoui swept him from the bottom.

    The fight was as entertaining on the ground as it was on the feet. Barnaoui's length gave Zavurov issues, and he was looking for submissions to keep Zavurov on the defensive. Barnaoui looked to be the more dangerous fighter, but fighters never want to leave a fight in the hands of the judges. Barnaoui would make sure the scorecards were not needed.

    As Barnaoui pulled down on Zavurov's head, he landed a switch-knee that shut off his opponent's lights.

    He knew it was over and did not follow up. He took the tournament victory and should land on a Knockout of the Year shortlist for using incredible Fight IQ in knowing when to switch and split the guard for an incredible knockout.

Aleksandar Ilic Ends Interrogation with a Question-Mark Kick KO

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    KSW 47 (March 23)

    One of the most fun promotions in the game today is KSW. The Polish MMA brand constantly delivers exciting fights, but they also hold production value near and dear to their hearts. It's a spectacle.

    The KSW 47 Knockout of the Night came on the main card when Aleksandar Ilic defeated Damian Janikowski in the third round.

    Ilic ended the bout with one of the most beautiful styles of kicks you'll see in the sport—the question-mark kick.

    What makes the devastating blow special is that it requires the offensive fighter to bait his opponent with what appears to be a low kick, but then change the elevation and torque to deliver the head kick. It's not merely a feint. It's a complete change in mid-air. Ilic executed the technique perfectly and put Janikowski on the canvas.

    The KO moved Ilic to 11-2 in his MMA career and was his fifth straight professional victory.

Joshua Pacio's Head Kick Turns into Knee KO

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    ONE Championship: Roots of Honor (April 12)

    Just 12 days after their biggest event ever, ONE Championship returned with another event that featured multiple title tilts.

    After such a large event that was A New Era, it was expected there would be a downturn in interest. So many fight fans who tuned in two weeks earlier to see UFC vets like Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez may have missed the knockouts that stunned audiences at Roots of Honor.

    One of those beautiful knockouts came in the co-main event when Joshua Pacio defended the strawweight championship. It can be seen at the 0:55 mark in the ONE Championship highlight package.

    The fight went into the championship rounds. Pacio was pushed by Yosuke Saruta. Once into the deep waters, Pacio found the off switch and put Saruta away. But part of the reason if found that off switch was due to some unfortunate luck on Saruta's behalf.

    The challenger was seemingly ducking to throw a wild overhand, but at that same time, Pacio was throwing a high kick. The timing of the two techniques caused Pacio's knee, instead of his shin, to connect with Saruta. It connected right on the temple, and Saruta folded over instantly.

    It was one of two title fights, and the other happened to feature a fantastic KO as well.

Martin Nguyen Hobbles Opponent with Crushing Leg Kicks Before Final Knee KO

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    ONE Championship: Roots of Honor (April 12)

    If the highlight video above seems familiar, that's because it was just featured on the last KO. This time you need to hop to 1:20 on the video to see Martin Nguyen's fight-ending series.

    Nguyen made easy work of Narantungalag Jadambaa in the main event. He attacked the legs and buckled his foe.

    In the second round, after more leg kicks, Jadambaa was nearing his end. He could barely stand. Nguyen picked him apart. After another smashing leg kick forced Jadambaa against the fence, Nguyen rushed him with a flying knee. It connected, and the title was secured.

    Both aspects of the knockout—the leg kicks that helped set it up and the vision to end it—were exceptional. Nguyen is one of ONE Championship's brightest and most entertaining fighters.

Melissa Martinez Stays Perfect with a Well-Timed Knee

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    Combate 36: Reinas (April 26)

    Melissa Martinez met Caroline Gallardo in the main event of Combate 36 in Los Angeles, and the undefeated strawweight made her presence known.

    Early in the second round, Martinez threw a low inside-leg kick. Gallardo caught it and took Martinez down. In the scramble, Gallardo attempted to get Martinez's back. As Martinez stood, Gallardo's right leg was behind her while she had her right arm wrapped up, and it left her head exposed.

    Skip to 6:05 for the ending sequence to the fight.

    Seeing the opportunity, Martinez scored with a knee to Gallardo's exposed face. She wasn't knocked out cold, but she was done. The referee didn't immediately step in, so Martinez landed some more ground-and-pound to the stunned fighter before the fight was called.

    "Super Melly" kept her record clean and improved to 6-0. She is a prospect to watch in the division, and the knockout should garner her some new fans.

Joanderson Brito Crushes Opponent with a Hard Left

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    LFA 65 (May 3)

    Earlier this month, LFA 65 featured a co-main event bout between Joanderson Brito and Jose Mariscal. It lasted 44 seconds.

    The two went right after it, and the announcers were hyping up the action. As Mariscal was pushing the action against the cage, the play-by-play announcer said, "Mariscal is not a guy you want to get upset." About seven seconds later, Mariscal was unconscious on the mat.

    In a wild exchange in the center of the cage, Brito connected with a massive left hook. The event took place in Colorado, but the hook may have started in somewhere in Utah. It was not compact. Brito swung it wide and hard. And Mariscal never saw it coming.

    Brito connected with another hard hammerfist on the ground as the referee stepped in. As Brito celebrated, the referee rolled the sleeping Mariscal on his side as the doctors came into the cage. It was a vicious and abrupt end.

    Brito moved to 11-2-1 overall, and the 24-year-old prospect will begin to gather some interest from the larger organizations after the KO.