By Thomas Gerbasi
Everybody loves a good knockout – everybody. And for those aficionados of the sudden finish, 2009 was a better year than most. It was tough to narrow all of the UFC’s great knockouts this year down to a list of just ten, but hey, who wants to read a 3,000 word epic on the 30 best KOs of the year?
10 – UFC 91 – November 15 – Jeremy Stephens TKO3 Rafael Dos Anjos
Lightweight Jeremy Stephens was engaged in a back and forth bout with Brazilian newcomer Rafael Dos Anjos, and as the fight entered the third and final round, Stephens was looking to make something happen against the jiu-jitsu ace. Sometimes, that takes a little bit of risk, and for the Iowan, that meant swinging a couple of uppercuts that began on the floor towards his opponent’s chin. Neither uppercut had any business landing, but the second one did, and Dos Anjos fell like he got shot. Game over – Stephens wins.
9 – UFC Fight Night – July 19 - Rory Markham KO1 Brodie Farber
Entering the UFC with a reputation as a pretty solid striker, Rory Markham nonetheless was having his head handed to him early on by the accurate strikes of Brodie Farber. But when you can punch and kick as effectively as Markham can, a turnaround is always one shot away, and as Farber pursued his foe a little too aggressively, Markham suddenly stopped backpedaling, planted his feet, and let loose with a hellacious kick to the head. Farber was out before he hit the mat, and Rory Markham had won his UFC debut.
8 – UFC Fight for The Troops – December 10 – Josh Koscheck KO1 Yoshiyuki Yoshida
When I spoke to Josh Koscheck before his December bout with Yoshiyuki Yoshida, I asked him about his right hand and why it had become so effective when – from the outside – it looked like a shot that would be pretty easy to get out of the way of. He simply told me that he was going to keep throwing it until it landed. Pretty simple strategy, and a profound one – one that paid off handsomely against Yoshida, who was lit up twice by Koscheck’s not so secret weapon. The first right stood Yoshida up and pretty much set him up for the finishing one a split second later. That’s all it took for Koscheck to score the most impressive victory of his career.
7 – UFC 84 – May 24 – Wanderlei Silva KO1 Keith Jardine
Given the intricate strategies and sporting aspect of mixed martial arts, it’s easy to forget sometimes that what we’re watching is a fight. The legendary Wanderlei Silva, aptly nicknamed ‘The Axe Murderer’, reminded us at UFC 84 with a ferocious assault that left Keith Jardine staring up at the lights and Silva sitting on top of the Octagon with his arms raised in victory. If you ever imagined what would happen if the Brazilian bomber ever got into a street fight, it would probably resemble something like what happened in Vegas on May 24th.
6 - UFC Fight Night – April 2 – James Irvin KO1 Houston Alexander
Eight seconds. How can you argue with what has to be considered the perfect fight? Look – you come out, throw one punch and win without getting hit. That’s perfection. Plus, James Irvin performed this feat on Houston Alexander with a Superman punch, adding to the aesthetic value of the whole sequence, which tied Don Frye’s KO of Thomas Ramirez at UFC 8 for fastest knockout in UFC history.
5 – UFC 92 – December 27 – Quinton Jackson KO1 Wanderlei Silva
As cathartic a knockout as you’ll find in this game, Quinton Jackson finished off a rough 2008 on a high note, not only with a victory, but with a victory over the man who knocked him out twice in PRIDE, Wanderlei Silva. The fact that he knocked out his heated rival with a single left hook made the win even sweeter.
4 –Thiago Alves KO’s Karo Parisyan (UFC Fight Night - April 2) and Matt Hughes (UFC 85 - June 7)
Gotta go two for one when it comes to slot number three because of the similarities of Thiago Alves’ two biggest wins to date. In both cases, Alves walked in as an underdog against seasoned and durable vets, and when both fights were over, he had taken out his opponent with vicious knees that shook up the welterweight division in the process. Previously, Parisyan had only been TKO’ed once (by Sean Sherk on a towel throw) in 30 pro fights; Hughes, twice in 49 fights. Alves took them both out. And while his close range knee on Parisyan was impressive, his flying knee KO of Hughes - in which he led with the right before switching and landing with the left in mid-air – was a thing of beauty.
3 – TUF8 Finale – December 13 – Anthony Johnson KO3 Kevin Burns
One of the more underrated series of recent years, the two fights between up and comers Anthony Johnson and Kevin Burns, have consisted of hard fought battles that have seen both men have their moments. But while the first bout ended controversially, there were no questions in the December rematch, as Johnson swung a left kick to the head that put Burns down and out in the third round and sent shockwaves through The Palms that night.
2 - UFC 90 – October 25 – Junior Dos Santos KO1 Fabricio Werdum
Brazil’s Junior Dos Santos literally came out of nowhere with his UFC 90 upset win over Fabricio Werdum, drilling the highly-regarded contender with a right uppercut that planted his countryman face-first on the canvas and announced his arrival on the world scene. If you didn’t know Dos Santos before October 25th, you know him now.
1 - UFC 88 – September 6 – Rashad Evans KO2 Chuck Liddell
In the first round, Rashad Evans fought the perfect fight against Chuck Liddell, using movement and quick flurries to frustrate ‘The Iceman’. So when Liddell came out recklessly and aggressively in the second stanza, Evans ended the perfect fight with the perfect punch, a right on the button that put the former light heavyweight king down and out, earning himself a UFC light heavyweight title shot (and subsequently a title) in the process.
Honorable mention – Melvin Guillard over Dennis Siver, Jorge Rivera over Kendall Grove, Wilson Gouveia over Jason Lambert, Marcus Davis over Jess Liaudin, Chris Lytle over Kyle Bradley, Matt Wiman over Thiago Tavares, Alessio Sakara over Joe Vedepo, Anderson Silva over James Irvin, Brock Lesnar over Randy Couture, Ben Saunders over Brandon Wolff, Anthony Johnson over Tommy Speer, Tim Boetsch over David Heath, Frank Mir over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mike Swick over Jonathan Goulet.
The Highly Unofficial 2008 UFC Awards - The Knockouts
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Everybody loves a good knockout – everybody. And for those aficionados of the sudden finish, 2009 was a better year than most. It was tough to narrow all of the UFC’s great knockouts this year down to a list of just ten, but hey, who wants to read a 3,000 word epic on the 30 best KOs of the year?