Top 10 UFC knockouts of all-time

I guarantee you have never read a best UFC knockouts list like this before. It isn’t going to be filled with the usual the knockouts you have seen hundreds of times already. This list will be bolder, and greater than the others.

But how do you approach such subjective rankings with an endless supply of choices? You make it about more than just the consciousness severing mayhem of the acts. You make it about the shock waves that go through the victim and the industry.

With that in mind, here are the “Top-10 UFC Knockouts of All Time” that shocked, inspired, changed opinions, and in some cases, changed the industry.

10. Francis Ngannou vs. Alistar Overeem, UFC 218

Alistar Overeem being on the wrong end of UFC knockouts wasn’t unheard of when Francis Ngannou got his hands on him at UFC 218. It had already happened four times previously in the Octagon, and some of them were pretty memorable.

However, none of them sent the chill of fear down your spine as this one did. The uppercut Ngannou unleashed that night seemed to have the might of Mjolnir behind it. No matter how many times you watch it, part of you has to be amazed “The Demolition Man’s” head stayed attached to his body. It was the sort of whiplash effect that made it almost surprising that the Dutch heavyweight avoided actual nerve damage to his neck and spine.

“The Predator” has had many memorable knockouts in his 13-fight Octagon run, but none as scary as this. It sent a message to the entire division that this man has the sort of explosive power that is not of this world, and you are welcome to join him in the Octagon, at the peril of your very consciousness.

9. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping, UFC 100

Even before Dan Henderson joined the UFC, the power in his hands were a well established part of his reputation. However, his UFC 100 knockout was his first quintessential H-Bomb moment on his US shores. After four previous Octagon outings, fans had not yet seen the power that felled mixed martial arts greats like Wanderlei Silva and Akihiro Gono when “Hendo” competed for Pride Fighting Championship.

Yet no moment seemed like a better fight for the H-Bomb’s UFC debut than his battle of The Ultimate Fighter coaches scrap with Michael Bisping.The Englishmen bothered and annoyed Henderson throughout the filming of the show and did all he could to earn being on the wrong end of this epic highlight reel moment. For fans of “The Count,” it was a setback that derailed his recent hot streak at middleweight.

For fans of Henderson, and those that couldn’t stand Bisping during that season of the show, it was sweet revenge ‘Merica style. Plus, this addition to the catalogue of UFC knockouts made Henderson and his H-Bomb a MMA household name.

8. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko ‘Cro Cop,’ UFC 70

Pride FC veteran Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was a well-established brand in the industry before he even reached the Octagon in 2007. The saying, “right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery,” was the calling card that made him arguably the most feared striker in the world at heavyweight. His kicks were a thing of legend competing in Japan. Then in his second UFC appearance, the kicker got kicked into unconsciousness.

Gabriel Gonzaga’s UFC 70 knockout of Filipovic will be on knockout lists forever. It was a stunning defeat that completely flipped the script on how “Cro Cop” fights usually went, and it came from an opponent more known for his grappling than his striking techniques.

From that moment on, the mystique that surrounded the talented Croatian striker was displaced, and he never regained that once fearsome reputation.

7. Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort, UFC 126

Anderson Silva versus Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 was a monumental clash because we were all going to get what we had long wanted. An opponent for “The Spider” that was finally an equal when it came to the striking. Silva had fought some serious strikers before this moment, but Belfort was a wrecking machine that had the skills to put fear in Silva’s hard like he did to all his foes.

Or so we thought. A little over a minute into the fight, the then long-time middleweight champion served a highlight reel front kick that will be on his career highlight-reel forever. He not only won a fight in the UFC with a technique rarely used successfully anywhere in the sport, but he did so in a title fight, and against a man thought to be as savvy of a striker as him.

It was the moment Silva went from being just a champion and top fighter, into an MMA legend. As well as becoming the name that usually pops up first when picking the best strikers in MMA history.

6. Amanda Nunes vs. Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino, UFC 232

Up until UFC 232, it was a universally accepted fact that Cris “Cyborg” Justino was the scariest fighter in women’s MMA history. Seventeen knockouts in 20 straight wins will do that. So when she stepped into the Octagon to defend her featherweight title against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, many expected the trend to continue. “Lioness” wasn’t having it.

In beating “Cyborg” at her own game, Nunes not only made history as the first female two-division champion, she blitzed her way into the top spot as the best female MMA fighter on the planet.

It was a major pivot point in women’s MMA. No longer was Justino “the baddest woman on the planet.” Nunes now was, and she had two shiny gold UFC emblazoned belts to prove it.

5. Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal, UFC 261

This fight’s placement on the list may surprise some, but it’s solely based around seeing, arguably, the most durable fighter in the sport get put to sleep. You have to understand, before UFC 261, Jorge Masvidal lost by knockout just once. That was in his seventeenth pro fight.

He then fought 32 times after that, going toe-to-toe on the feet against world class striker like Darren Till, Stephen Thompson, Lorenz Larkin, Donald Cerrone, and Paul Daley, and never came close to being stopped from punches and kicks.

In 49 fights, over an 18-year career, “Gamebred” has hardly ever been even hurt in a fight, let alone knocked out cold. That’s what made Kamaru Usman’s thunderous finish to their two-fight feud all the more impressive. Especially, since he faced a version of Masvidal light-years better than what Rodrigo Damm saw when he stopped him in 2008.

Despite the Cuban claiming Usman had “pillow hands,” the reigning and defending UFC welterweight champion did the unthinkable, and put “Street Jesus” to rest on this UFC knockouts list with one immaculate shot.

UFC knockouts
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

4. ‘Shogun’ Rua vs. Lyoto Machida, UFC 113

To truly appreciate what Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was able to achieve at UFC 113, you have to understand the riddle wrapped in an enigma that Lyoto Machida was in 2009. At that time, he was the hardest puzzle to solve in the entire sport. How he applied his shotokan karate within MMA made him downright impossible to hit at times.

However, while making you miss he also could explode forward with thunder and lighting in his offense. Sixteen men had failed in trying to solve his puzzle, including Rua. That was until their championship rematch in May of that year.

After fighting a strategic and technical fight–very unlike him–in their first bout, “Shogun” said screw this, and pushed forward like his usual berzerker self, and a little over a minute into the first round, he hit his target. Flooring “The Dragon” for the first time in his UFC career, then turned his lights out completely soon after.

It was a shocking moment that finally proved that Machida was not an unsolvable problem. The Brazilian did what seemed impossible at the time, and he solved the greatest puzzle in the sport and forever made a classic UFC knockouts moment.

3. Holy Holm vs. Ronda Rousey, UFC 193

At it’s most basic level, when Holly Holm head kicked Ronda Rousey into an early nap at UFC 193, in front of 56,000 people, women’s MMA was forever changed. Not on any technical or fundamental levels, but in the fact that the women’s side of the sport was able to get out from behind Rousey’s superstar shadow.

She deserves much of the credit for pulling up women’s MMA to where it belonged next to the men. However, her brand had become so gigantic that the ladies side of the sport almost revolved around her instead of with her.

Holm forcibly removed the Olympic silver medalist from the equation and opened the door for new faces to rise up and share in the spotlight. It ended a very important first chapter for females in the UFC and began an even better one after.

2. Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, UFC 226

Before UFC 226, Daniel Cormier had nine career knockouts. However, only two of them came during his stint in the UFC. And even those two were stoppages based around the referee stepping in on an opponent not defending enough. So if there was anyone that would add Stipe Miocic to an all time UFC knockouts list, light heavyweight champion Cormier–in a move up to heavyweight–was the last one you would expect.

Especially, when power punching giants like Junior Dos Santos, Alistar Overeem, Francis Ngannou, and Mark Hunt failed in their chance to.

Yet, with one short hook inside the clinch, “DC” shocked the world and made history. He became the second man to have won both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. He was the first to hold them simultaneously, and the second to hold two belts at once in UFC history. Plus, he did so over the man universally viewed as the best heavyweight of all time.

1. Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo, UFC 194

Conor McGregor stormed through the featherweight division in route to his UFC 194 championship fight with Jose Aldo. Without a doubt, the Irishman had done impressive things in his first six fights in the UFC. However, it was nothing compared to the legend Aldo had built up to that point.

From his debut in World Extreme Cagefighting, up until his bout with McGregor, Aldo was unbeaten over 15 fights. He had defended the featherweight title nine times, and defeated elite talents at the time like Chad Mendes (twice), Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, and Frankie Edgar.

Aldo was the best featherweight ever, still with gold around his waist and with prime years in front of him. Then “Notorious” changed it all in 13 seconds. It is a mind blowing thing to ponder even today. One of the best talents to ever grace the Octagon was slept in 13 seconds.

It put an official stamp on the beginning of the McGregor era in the UFC, and the promotion has never really been quite the same since. From how they book title fights, to what stars they promote, to preferring talents do more of their own fight hype in the lead up to bouts. We didn’t realize at the time, but that 13 second knockout changed the UFC as we knew it.

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