19. Anthony Pettis vs. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson
Anthony Pettis’s ‘Showtime Kick’ against Benson Henderson remains one of the most scintillating moments in MMA history. However, the former lightweight champion has fallen from grace since then. But he is still capable of producing an epic moment, as he proved against Stephen Thompson at UFC Nashville in 2019. It also came totally against the momentum of the fight.
‘Wonderboy’ dominated for most of the two rounds by keeping Pettis at bay with sidekicks. Pettis then produced an astonishing moment of inspiration. He used the cage to great effect as he pulled off a ludicrous flying punch. Thompson didn’t see it coming and suffered the first knockout of his UFC career. You can never count Pettis out in a striking battle.
Romero is one of the scariest athletes on the UFC roster. His combination of devastating power and a terrifying aura makes him one of the most feared foes in MMA. ‘The Soldier of God’ will never be a middleweight champion, but he came close on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, he is capable of shutting anybody’s lights out. Just ask Luke Rockhold.
Yoel Romero nearly took Luke Rockhold’s head off two years ago today in the main event at UFC 221#UFC
Rockhold sought redemption after he lost his title to Michael Bisping. The only two-time victim on this list, the Californian experienced another brutal knockout when Romero melted him with a scorching right hand where he almost decapitated the former champion. Rockhold didn’t know where he was afterward while Romero embraced him and told him, ‘I love you.’
Lewis is one of the scariest power-hitters in MMA. If you can take him a couple of rounds, ‘The Black Beast’ will get tired. Russian heavyweight star Alexander Volkov is a giant man. However, he prefers to use a more technical striking style than most of his counterparts in the division. Furthermore, it worked brilliantly against Lewis in their bout at UFC 229. That was, until it didn’t.
With just 10 seconds left, Lewis rallied to produce one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history. He connected with two massive punches to drop Volkov and he finished the Russian on the ground. It was truly epic and legend status was solidified in Lewis’s post-fight interview. He stripped off his trunks and stood in his underwear. When asked why he replied: “My balls were hot.”
Felder is a savage. The Philadelphia fighter always brings it to every bout. He fought Danny Castillo back in 2015 and produced a moment of savagery that ended the veteran. They met at UFC 182 and ‘The Irish Dragon’ demonstrated his skill with a crazy spinning upward elbow. Check out the finish below.
It was a cross between an elbow and a backfist and it didn’t even look that powerful. But Castillo’s momentum carried him into the shot. His eyes were wide as he hit the floor. Then Felder dropped on top of him with a couple of follow-up shots. Who would want to be a professional fighter? This was sheer viciousness.
In 2015, Thompson was a welterweight contender. The South Carolina native had come into the UFC with a strong kickboxing record and because of this became one of the best strikers in MMA. Furthermore, as you might expect, his kicks are extremely good, as Ellenberger found out in the final of The Ultimate Fighter. In short, this was a barnstormer from start to finish.
Ellenberger actually rocked Thompson with a big hook early in the round, but ‘Wonderboy’ was able to rally and recover. He bounced back and unleashed his back of tricks. Firstly, he let fly with a side kick to the face. Then, he dazed Ellenberger with a spinning hook kick. Ellenberger was on shaky legs before a second spinning hook kick finished him off.
If we were making an all-time list, then Edson Barboza’s spinning roundhouse kick over Terry Etim in 2012 would be on here. But the Brazilian is a serial finisher as Dariush found out the hard way. The pair fought back in 2016 in Fortaleza, Brazil, in a lightweight thriller. After two rounds, Barboza pulled off the spectacular yet again.
Dariush threw a jab as a feint before a takedown attempt. However, Barboza saw it coming and timed a switch knee perfectly. His American opponent ran forward into it and probably did more damage to himself than Barboza did. The referee brilliantly threw himself in the way of Barboza because he was ready to unleash the ground-and-pound.
Holm is responsible for one of the most stunning upsets in UFC history. She fought Rousey at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia but, most fans didn’t give Holm much of a chance. This was because ‘Rowdy’ had shown no weaknesses in the cage. Then Holm totally exposed the champion in a brutal beating.
Rousey’s main tactic was to take her opponent down and armbar her opponent quickly but she didn’t get close to Holm. In short, the challenger used slick movement and brilliant counterstriking to great effect. Finally, the finish came in the second round. A couple of punches, a head kick, and ground and pound ended Rousey’s reign.
Shevchenko is one of the most dominant fighters in all of MMA today. The UFC women’s flyweight champion is a class above every contender who has faced her. She proved her ability yet again with a terrifying KO victory over Eye. Eye had no idea what had happened after ‘Bullet’ crushed her with a brutal head kick. It was horrible and sounded like a baseball bat.
Who needs valium when Shevchenko is around? The Kyrgyzstani fighter has some of the slickest strikes in MMA and is also a master of distance control. She picked her spot and then perfectly placed her heel on Eye’s temple. Ironically, Eye wore a bulletproof vest at the pre-fight weigh-ins in mockery of Shevchenko’s nickname. But ‘Bullet’ was just too much for ‘Evil’ to handle.
Rodriguez narrowly missed out on two places in our top 10 with this knockout. The Mexican firebrand has one of the most exciting fighting styles in the UFC. His KO win over Fili is a case in point. The pair met at UFC 197 back in 2016. This was a clash between two exciting and dynamic featherweights and it didn’t disappoint.
This was less of a flying knee and more of a flying shin. Rodriguez burst forward with Fili backed up against the cage. Then he did a switch-leg, flying shin that instantly felled his opponent. The Hawaiian crashed to the mat and the referee instantly intervened to stop the fight. It was a sensational victory for Rodriguez who solidified his growing hype.
Entertainment follows Vannata like a rat behind the Pied Piper. He has never delivered on his promise to be a contender, but he is one of the most exciting action fighters on the roster. Vannata’s most stunning highlight reel moment came at UFC 206 when he crushed Makdessi with a beautiful spinning roundhouse kick. It was both sickening and stunning.
The opening of this fight was cagey but Vannata slowly took over. He moved Makdessi backward and connected with a leg kick first. Makdessi fell like a tree after the follow-up spinning roundhouse kick reverberated off of his head. His heel smacked off of Makdessi’s head as if it were a sledgehammer. It was one of the best knockouts of 2016.
Lee is one of the most frustrating fighters in MMA. The Detroit native has all of the athletic gifts but often lacks the tactical nuance against high-level athletes. However, he has provided some superb moments. His most notable KO victory came against Gillespie when he landed a crushing head kick to win the fight. He crashed to the ground with a sickening thud.
After going back-and-forth for most of the round, Lee threw two punches with a rear-leg roundhouse close behind them. He connected with ‘The Gift’s’ temple, sending him to sleep immediately. Gillespie lay on the floor motionless for a few minutes before he finally came to his senses. As savage head kicks go, this one was brutal and terrifying in equal measure.
After three straight defeats by KO, Garbrandt came back strong. The former UFC bantamweight champion looked like he was on track to be a superstar but a disappointing fight IQ cost him badly in the cage. He faced veteran Assuncao at UFC 250 and knew that this was his final opportunity to stay relevant. In the end, he stole the show with a devastating finish.
It came at the end of the first round of their fight. Assuncao threw a strike, but ‘No-Love’ ducked underneath and swung a fearsome overhand to crush his Brazilian opponent. Assuncao crashed to the ground like a fallen tree. It was spectacular, clinical, and devastating from Garbrandt and one of the best knockouts of 2020, all with one second left in the round.
Going to Brazil is always one of the most intimidating atmospheres in MMA for foreign fighters. However, UFC heavyweight challenger Miocic didn’t allow it to overwhelm him when he faced the champion Werdum in Curitiba. In fact, this was the first stunning victory on his road to officially becoming the greatest UFC heavyweight champion of all-time.
Werdum advanced forwards towards Miocic at about the midway point of the round. The American continued to throw punches as he moved backward despite severe pressure. He managed to connect with the Brazilian’s chin and put him to sleep in style. It was one of the most satisfying knockouts on this list and a reminder of what heavyweights can do at any time.
Immediately billed as the greatest knockout in UFC history, we’re not going to give it that status. It loses out on jeopardy points because it came in the prelims of UFC Fight Island 5 in Abu Dhabi in 2020. Buckley vs. Kasanganay was a very even fight until the finish came in the second round. When it arrived, nobody could believe what they just saw because Buckley produced a moment of epic brutality.
Buckley threw a kick which Kasanganay caught. But then, with one foot still in Kasanganay’s hand, Buckley spun and landed a ridiculous jumping back kick to his opponent’s chin. He went out like a light and hit the mat as his eyes rolled back in his head. Instantly, Buckley made a name for himself with a dynamic and creative KO. Do you think it deserves to be higher up this list?
Some will cry this doesn’t deserve to make our top five, but that totally removes the context of the situation. After one of the biggest buildups in the history of the sport, unbeaten featherweight champion Aldo faced off against upstart challenger, McGregor at UFC 194. ‘The Notorious’ played mind-games before the fight and promised to knock him out in the first round.
Aldo rushed in from the start and McGregor immediately countered with a stunning 13-second finish. Nobody could believe what they had just seen. It was the quickest knockout in UFC title fight history. The drama, excitement, and efficiency of this finish make it one of the most infamous ever. Nobody knew if McGregor could do it but he did.
Namajunas put on the performance of her life against Andrade. At least, until the Brazilian slammed her on her head. ‘Thug Rose’ was the strawweight champion and demonstrated some beautiful movement and slick striking against her challenger. It looked like she was on a different level to Andrade. However, the Brazilian had a trick up her sleeve.
The finish came about three minutes into the second round. As the pair moved into the clinch, Namajunas took a risk and attempted a flying armbar. Andrade used her opponent’s momentum against her to smash her head-first into the ground. It was a sickening KO as Namajunas’s head bounced off the mat. Andrade became the new champion in savage style.
This was the night that Francis Ngannou arrived. He fought against former DREAM, PRIDE, and K-1 champion Overeem in the co-main event of UFC 218. There are some spectacular knockouts on this list but none of them made us actually fear for the victim’s life like this one did. ‘The Predator’ demonstrated devastating raw power as he sent Overeem into the next world.
Ngannou landed a ferocious uppercut that snapped Overeem’s neck back to a disgusting angle. The power and explosiveness of the Cameroonian fighter made him instantly the most feared fighter on the entire roster. Remarkably, Overeem recovered but he probably doesn’t remember much about it. It was definitely one of the most terrifying of all-time.
There was bad blood coming into this one. Askren rode the hype train into UFC 239 against Masvidal. The former ONE and Bellator champion was also a champion trash-talker. But he didn’t realize that his opponent was plotting his demise in the most brutal fashion. Finally, the pair faced off across from each other in the octagon. However, it didn’t last long.
Askren moved forward with his hands down, clearly looking for a takedown. Masvidal fully expected this. He charged across the cage and landed a stunning flying knee. It was the fastest knockout in UFC history at just five seconds. Even though, Askren was out for the count, ‘Gamebred’ still followed up with a couple of heavy hammer-fists. According to the Cuban-American, they were ‘super necessary.’
Chan Sung Jung was literally about to win this fight before Rodriguez stunned the world. Their clash took place in the main event of a UFC Fight Night in Denver, Colorado. Both men had their moments throughout the fight. But the Korean Zombie’s compact boxing style had the edge over Rodriguez’s flashy, kick-heavy style. But then suddenly it ended.
With a single second left on the clock, Zombie moved forward aggressively. His Mexican opponent sprung a back-upward elbow that connected perfectly with the Korean’s chin. He went down like a sack of coal and Rodriguez won the fight. In sum, this was arguably the greatest UFC knockout of all-time. The last-second drama and the spectacular nature of the finish make it iconic.