KO Countdown: The Top 5 MMA Knockouts from June

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJune 28, 2019

KO Countdown: The Top 5 MMA Knockouts from June

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    Valentina Shevchenko (left) knocks out Jessica Eye at UFC 238.
    Valentina Shevchenko (left) knocks out Jessica Eye at UFC 238.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    People are counting on fireworks this Saturday when Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos take the cage in the main event of UFC on ESPN 3.

    In honor of that, let us count down the top five knockouts of the past month. Fair warning, though: This was a difficult month for such a task.

    We're not limiting ourselves to the UFC here—Bellator and other shows are in the mix—but in the top league alone there was plenty of competition in a knockout-heavy month.

    Even though the UFC had a relatively paltry two events this month prior to Saturday, there were nine combined KOs and TKOs on those cards.

    But let's see what we can do to narrow it down. Knockouts are ranked on their power and "wow" factor, but the ones with the biggest consequences get extra priority. And you know what else? We've got video clips for some of them, too.

5. Emiliano Sordi Batters Vinny Magalhaes

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    I'm a sucker for a good mercy stoppage.

    Not every cool knockout need be of the flying-double-spinning-head-crushing variety. I mean, yes, most of them are like that, but at PFL 2019 3 on June 6, Emiliano Sordi didn't need such things. He didn't even need a knockdown.

    Against fellow (and far more well-known) UFC veteran Vinny Magalhaes, Sordi brutalized his opponent over a pretty long period of time before using a barrage of hooks and uppercuts—including some nasty body shots—to force Magalhaes into what was essentially a standing turtle along the fence. Referee Dan Miragliotta had seen enough.

    Magalhaes was the runner-up in PFL's last season, so Sordi's win is particularly noteworthy for its significance as well as its wince inducement.

4. Aleksandar Rakic Is Terrifying

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    It's not often you hear active UFC fighters refer to a knockout as "scary." But that's what they were saying (among other things) after light heavyweight Aleksandar Rakic (12-1) absolutely obliterated Jimi Manuwa on June 1 at UFC Fight Night 153.

    In hindsight, Manuwa may have been a bit of a sitting duck. An aggressive boxer with hard hands but not a hard chin to match, the 39-year-old is what wags sometimes call a glass cannon.

    A scant 40 seconds or so into the bout, Rakic charged forward with a two-punch combination, then he went upstairs with his left leg to the side of Manuwa's skull. Manuwa's nerveless body tumbled back, his head bouncing grotesquely off the canvas on impact. It took several minutes for Manuwa to regather his wits.

    With Rakic and a few others on the scene, light heavyweight is a scary division again. Perhaps none of the new arrivals, however, are scarier than the young Austrian.

3. Flying Knee Wrecks Pico

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    On its face, this one is more noteworthy because of the recipient of the knockout blow.

    Aaron Pico stormed into MMA on a tsunami of hype. After Bellator 222 on June 14, the 22-year-old is now 4-3 and searching for answers.

    Pico controlled most of his fight with fellow featherweight Adam Borics using his Olympic-level wrestling. But in the second round, Borics took advantage of a rare moment of verticality, reared back and launched a flying knee that caught Pico by surprise and led to the stoppage.

    Pico's the wider story here for sure, but don't forget about the other guy. At age 25, the Hungarian Borics is now 13-0. He's no Max Holloway, but he's no tomato can either. One of June's best knockouts proves that.

    Fun side note: It's not often you see two flying-knee KOs on the same card, but Bellator 222 was no ordinary card. Lyoto Machida used a flying knee to send the inimitable Chael Sonnen into retirement.

2. The Zombie Rises Again

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    When you talk about the creme de la creme of UFC action fighters, there's a handful of usual suspects. It's time to add The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung (15-5) to that list.

    Thanks in large part to a mandatory two-year stint in the South Korean military, the Zombie has been sadly dormant for much of his prime. His June 22 fight with Renato Moicano in the main event of UFC Fight Night 154 was only his fourth in the past six years.

    Now here we are; three fights back, a 2-1 record since, all three decided by knockout, all three garnering performance bonuses.

    Last November it took the Knockout of the Year for Yair Rodriguez to defeat him at literally the last second. In his first fight since then, he absolutely melted Moicano with a huge right hook and vicious ground strikes less than a minute into the first round (at 1:43 in the video above).

    This guy has all but two of his pro wins by stoppage and hasn't been in a decision since 2010.

    The Zombie's all the way back, and we're all better for it. It's not like one of those boring Walking Dead guys.

1. The Bullet Fires

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    For all her success, talent and charisma, the UFC women's flyweight champion arguably hadn't yet found her signature moment.

    Valentina "Bullet" Shevchenko (17-3) changed that with extreme prejudice June 8 at UFC 238. Defending her title for the first time, the gazillion-time world muay thai champion finally scored her first UFC knockout.

    It only took eight UFC contests to do it—something that opened her up to criticism for a conservative, albeit successful, fighting style.

    It came in the evening's co-main event over poor Jessica Eye. A head kick, perfectly placed, did the trick and sent an unconscious (dare I say shut?) Eye back-first to the canvas.

    When you hear someone say "go upside the head," this is what they're talking about.


    Scott Harris covers MMA and other things for Bleacher Report.