Knockouts are a very popular part of mixed martial arts, but some are more spectacular than others. In the history of the UFC, we have seen some fights that caused major upsets while others were great to watch.
That’s why we thought it would be interesting to look back at the 10 best knockouts in UFC history. We took into account not only their appearance but also other factors such as shock value and the magnitude of the fight.
We’re sure you’ll love our list, so sit back and enjoy some of the best playoffs ever. Let’s go!
1. Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo (UFC 194)
This is one of the most hyped fights of all time. It was billed as a contest between the raw animalistic power of McGregor and the world-class and technically perfect MMA fighter Jose Aldo.
Many thought the McGregor hype train was about to derail. Instead, it flew into the stratosphere. McGregor has proven that he can walk and talk the talk.
Even the most ardent McGregor fans could not have predicted what happened, especially in a tournament not known for spectacular knockouts. Most expect this to be a close match but the Irishman will have other ideas.
After just 13 seconds, the highly anticipated fight was over when McGregor placed his infamous left hand on Aldo’s chin. Everyone was expecting an epic battle but instead saw an impressive knockout. It wasn’t the most spectacular knockout in UFC history but given the importance of the fight and the time on the clock, it was one of the greatest.
2. Jorge Masvidal vs Ben Askren (UFC 239)
This knockout was not only epic in how it happened but also the story behind it. Masvidal entered the fight as angry as he was in Askren’s previous fight. He won a controversial stoppage when the referee deemed his opponent Robbie Lawler was cold when he was not.
Lawler insisted he never tapped and Askren’s gloating about the result upset Masvidal. He would get his sweet revenge when the two fought, in one of the fastest knockouts in combat sports history.
Right before the fight, Masvidal leaned against the cage with his hands behind his back and smiled at Askren. It’s like that moment in a Hollywood movie where you know the hero is about to take everyone down.
The bell rings and Masvidal charges at Askren. Knowing that his opponent would try to grapple immediately, Masvidal lunged at him, landing a knee straight to his opponent’s head. He immediately turned cold.
Masvidal landed two punches before the referee could rush in and stop the fight. After doing so, Masvidal patted the unconscious Askren in the face as retribution for stopping his match with Lawler.
3. Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping (UFC 100)
As McGregor points out, there are times when a trash talker can back up his words with actions. There are times when trash talkers are lulled to sleep by their opponents and that’s exactly what happened here.
Whether you love or hate Bisping, there is no doubt he is one of the best trash talkers ever in the UFC. Henderson is the opposite and does not suffer much from Bisping’s criticism.
What Henderson did was let his talent do the talking. Entering the second round, the match was quite balanced. Henderson then threw one of the cleanest punches ever seen in the octagon.
Bisping was out cold as soon as he landed and the fight was over. His body stiffened as he hit the canvas but Henderson was able to land a big punch before the referee could stop it.
4. Yair Rodriguez vs Chan Sung Jung (UFC Fight Night)
We’ve seen with McGregor and Henderson that knockouts can be so memorable because they happen so early in the fights. In this contest, Rodriquez showed how dramatic they can be late in the match.
His five-round bout with “The Korean Zombie” was already an epic battle before he delivered the knockout blow. Going into the final seconds, it was thought that Chan Sung Jung would be the one to win the point. He must have had his doubts when, with seconds left, he lunged at Rodriguez in an attempt to deliver the final blow.
Rodriguez dodged the hook and, while ducking, drove his elbow straight into his opponent’s jaw. Korean Zombie fell to the floor and it was one of the most dramatic endings ever.
5. Joaquin Buckley vs Impa Kasanganay (UFC Fight Night)
Some knockouts are on this list because of their importance and others because of circumstances. This makes this roster one of the most brutal and technically perfect knockouts ever.
The match was fairly even as Buckley tried to throw a kick at his opponent. Impa blocked it and grabbed his left leg, which is usually a vulnerable position for opponents.
Instead, Buckley turned it to his advantage. He used the leverage of his holding left leg to spin around and deliver a brutal kick straight to Impa’s face. Slow-motion replays show his eyes rolling to the back of his head just as it landed.
Buckley didn’t even check to see if he needed to end the fight with punches, he knew it was over and walked away. It’s the kind of spinning kick that most fighters only dream of landing.
6. Edson Barboza vs Terry Etim (UFC 142)
We just talked about an extremely good spin kick, so what about another kick? Barboza is known for his low kicks, which his opponents especially take note of.
However, against Etim, he launched a powerful high kick. Unlike Buckley’s back kick, Barboza performs the classic cartwheel kick that is rare in the UFC.
The kick couldn’t have been more perfect with the heel. Like when most kicks land on the head, Etim immediately went cold and fell like a tree cut down in the forest. As with Buckley, Barboza walked away as soon as the connection was made, knowing the fight was over. Performing a spin kick like that would definitely make a big splash.
7. Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort (UFC 126)
We’ve just seen two excellent spin kicks but this is a brutal knockout delivered with a front kick. Silva is in good form and comes into the fight having won 13 matches in a row.
His opponent was Vitor Belfort, a long-time training partner and the two of them knew each other very well. The first round was fairly even and Silva was nearly knocked out after a missed kick. With less than two minutes remaining, Silva attempted another kick but this time it was well completed.
The referee should have called it immediately as Silva was almost reluctant to throw a few more punches. Due to the mutual respect between the two, Silva quickly went to Belfort and made sure he was okay.
8. Chris Weidman vs Anderson Silva (UFC 162)
This was another great knockout featuring Anderson Silva, but this time he went the wrong way. We’ve already covered his tremendous reign and by the time he fought Weidman, his winning streak had been extended to 17 wins, 16 in the UFC. Due to that crazy streak, he was the clear favorite and looked unbeatable. However, just like the UFC, a lot can change very quickly.
Perhaps the reason for the loss is complacency. Silva was in form throughout the contest and clearly thought very little of his opponent. In the second round, he put his hands on his hips, swaying from the punches. It looked great until his luck ran out. Weidman hit him and quickly finished the job. It was a huge shock and ended Silva’s dominance.
9. Gabriel Gonzaga vs Mirko Cro Cop (UFC70)
This was another shocking knockout in 2007 for Gabriel Gonzaga. Many fans had Cro Cop winning this match and then setting up a title fight with Randy Couture.
Gonzaga won’t let things go according to script without a fight. While he was holding out, Cro Cop had the better start to the match and looked to be the winner.
That was until, out of nowhere, Gonzaga delivered a brutal kick that crushed Cro Cop. His legs were crossed from below but Gonzaga managed to land three punches on the ground before the referee rushed in. Eight years later, the two would fight again but this time Mirko Cro Cop won by knockout but not in quite the same dramatic fashion.
10. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture (UFC 52)
We could easily pick another match with Liddell on this list. He was memorably knocked out by Rashad Evans at UFC 88. In that fight, Liddell was put to sleep by a perfect right hand. However, for this list, we’re going for a fight where he’s the one delivering the punishment. This was their second fight and in the first, it was Couture who delivered a pretty standard knockout blow.
At UFC 52, Liddell will get his revenge. After several exchanges, Couture tried to respond by pressing Liddell. ‘Iceman’ responded by landing perfectly right through the jaw with his back foot. He became heavyweight champion and would defend that belt a year later when he fought Couture for a third time. The result was similar as Liddell once again won by KO.