With 2015 almost in the books, what better way to celebrate the last 12 months than to watch a bunch of UFC fighters kicking the ever loving crap out of one another?
This year has been a bit of a weird one for the UFC, what with a certain famous female fighter losing and Jon Jones going completely off the rails for a while. Plus, UFC President Dana White seems to be on a one-man mission to piss off absolutely everybody, including his own fighters.
Still, in terms of sheer in-fight entertainment, it’s been another quality year of action.
There’s been some absolutely incredible knockouts in the UFC this year, that’s for sure, and we may have to dub 2015 the unofficial “year of the flying knee”. Although there’s been a fair few tasty head kicks along the way too.
And, yes, Holly Holm’s finish of Ronda Rousey might make an appearance here.
So, here’s ten of the best KOs we’ve seen inside the Octagon this year, in chronological order. Just don’t think about the long term consequences to the health of these guys and gals or it kind of ruins the enjoyment…
Paul Felder vs Danny Castillo (UFC 182, January 3)
The first show of the year produced perhaps the best KO we’ve seen in all of 2015. A spinning back fist knockout is about as rare as it gets, but Paul Felder landed a picture perfect example of one here as Castillo left his chin open while rushing forward. What’s particularly insane about it, is how causally Felder throws the strike and how suddenly poor Castillo hits the deck. Considering the main card featured four judges’ decisions and one ‘No Contest’, UFC President Dana White was probably pretty gutted they didn’t stick this fight on the PPV portion of the show. Then again, as it was televised on Fox Sports 1, maybe this insane KO got them some last minute buys? Either way, this was an absolute beauty!
Makwan Amirkhani vs Andy Ogle (UFC on FOX 14, January 24)
Unfortunately, the loveable Geordie was on the receiving end of this one. Although it sucked to see the Brit lose in such a devastating manner, you can’t deny the awesomeness of this knockout. In one of the quickest KOs we’ve ever seen, Amirkhani absolutely flew out of the blocks, sprinting across the Octagon and leaping into the air to catch Ogle on the jaw with a double flying knee José Aldo would be proud of. A couple of punches later and the Kurdish-Finnish fighter had recorded one of the fastest finishes in UFC history, at a mere eight seconds!
Sam Sicilia vs Akira Corassani (UFC on FOX 14, January 24)
This is about as perfect an example of an overhand right you’re likely to see. It proved to be a tough day at the office for the Swede Corassani in front of his home fans. He started well, using his in-and-out movement to avoid the power punching of Sicilia but it all went to shit remarkably quickly. Sicilia has the kind of freakish punching power which can end a bout in an instant and his timing on the right hook was glorious, catching Akira just as he circled into range. The KO was so brutal that poor Akira announced his retirement from mixed martial arts shortly after the loss. Ouch!
Anthony Johnson vs Alexander Gustafsson (UFC on FOX 14, January 24)
This light heavyweight number one contender’s bout was expected to be one of the best fights of the year, so when it ended in less than three minutes, everyone was a little bit surprised, to say the least. What we did get was one of the craziest knockouts of the year. An accidental eye poke temporarily halted the bout but, immediately upon the restart, ‘Rumble’ struck. Johnson, whose hands are basically made of bricks, loaded up with a counter right hook as Gus threw a kick. The Swede gamely tried to hang in there, but Johnson swarmed on him and absolutely battered him with kicks and punches until Gustafsson collapsed to the mat. All in all, Johnson finishing Jon Jones’ toughest ever challenger in just 2:15 was absolutely bonkers…
Thiago Santos vs Steve Bosse (UFC Fight Night 70, June 27)
Santos has had something of an up and down career during his time with the UFC but one thing you definitely can’t fault him on is his ridiculously powerful kicking ability. He was apparently keen to remind everyone of just that in the summer, when he landed a pinpoint kick to the chin of poor Steve Bosse. After hurting Bosse with a body kick, Santos smartly faked another liver kick, only to go high instead and catch his opponent flush on the dome with bone rattling precision. Nasty.
Thomas Almeida vs Brad Pickett (UFC 189, July 11)
It’s really not been a great year for the Brits, has it? Cockney scrapper Brad Pickett is known for his durability but he was on the receiving end of a devastating KO courtesy of the undefeated Almeida in Las Vegas. The two were in the midst of a pretty fun back-and-forth scrap, with Pickett landing a couple of punches which wobbled the Brazilian. Unfortunately, in round two, Almeida landed a picture perfect flying knee which rendered ‘One Punch’ instantly out for the count.
Jeremy Stephens vs Dennis Bermudez (UFC 189, July 11)
UFC 189 was definitely a night of absolute barnburners and flying knee knockouts. Landing a jumping knee to another guy’s chin is supposed to be as rare as it gets, but in July we got two in one night! In another exciting back-and-forth scrap, Bermudez charged forward looking to land the killer punch when, all of a sudden, Stephens leapt into the air and landed a stunning jumping knee which crumpled his foe to the mat. By the way, this card also featured that Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald scrap, which is probably the best fight of the year. So not a bad night for mixed martial arts, all in all!
Stephen Thompson vs Jake Ellenberger (The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale, July 12)
Young karate practitioner Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is known for his creative and exciting striking style and, boy, did he put that on full display in this one. After getting cracked early with a hard punch from ‘The Juggernaut’, Thompson recovered and landed two spinning hook kicks to the dome of Ellenberger. Yes, you read that correctly – he connected with not one, but two of (probably) the most difficult kicking technique in MMA. The first one dropped Ellenberger but he survived, before Thompson landed the second and Ellenberger collapsed; hurt, confused and concussed. It was insane.
Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey (UFC 193, November 15)
The head kick heard around the world! It’s safe to say this upset win shook mixed martial arts to its very core, as arguably the UFC’s biggest current star was on the receiving end of an absolute beating from an incredible fighter who people foolishly underrated. Former pro-boxer Holm managed to avoid the patented Rousey judo throws and then she put on a striking clinic on the feet, picking the former Olympian apart. The stunning end came when Rousey stumbled after being caught with a punch and Holm’s left shin caught her flush on the chin to usher in a new era for women’s MMA.
Conor McGregor vs José Aldo (UFC 194, December 12)
— #UFCLondon (@btsportufc) December 13, 2015
13 seconds. That’s how long it took Irish superstar Conor McGregor to dethrone the greatest featherweight in the history of the sport. It was the biggest fight of the year and, with months of trash talk and one cancellation, the anticipation for this one was crazy and, of all the ways we saw it going down, the fastest KO in UFC title fight history was definitely not on the list. Perhaps incensed by all of Conor’s words, Aldo rushed forward looking for the kill but found himself caught with one of the most pinpoint counter left hooks to the jaw you’re ever likely to see, which dropped him face first to the mat and put him out for the count. The craziest finish of the year to welcome in the McGregor era. 2016 is going to be very fun with this guy on top!