Throughout UFC’s rich history, we have seen hundreds of spectacular knockouts. However, some got etched in history momentarily, and we’ll never forget them. It’s hard to determine which one was the best. Was it the ones that were the most important? Or the ones that were the flashiest?
Well, I took a little bit of both to create a ranked list of the 11 best knockouts in UFC history. I’ll also go into detail to see which knockout was the best and why.
What Is the Best Knockout in UFC History?
I was thinking a lot about how to determine which knockout is the best. Of course, we love seeing spectacular, flashy knockouts, but it seems that the knockouts we remember for the longest time were the ones that had the most impact on the fight game.
By that, I mean knockouts in title fights, huge upsets of the biggest stars, etc. So, the list you’re about to read took those criteria as a starting point – how flashy it was and how historically significant it was. The more flashy or significant the knockout is, the higher up it’ll be on this list. OK, maybe I favored flashy knockouts a bit more.
11. Rashad Evans KOs Chuck Liddell at UFC 88
I remember watching the fight between Rashad Evans and Chuck Liddell at UFC 88, expecting the Iceman to put his opponent to sleep like he usually did. Well, this time, Liddell was on the receiving end of a brutal right hand.
Chuck did what he always does. He kept pushing forward, searching for an opening to land his signature right. He backed Evans up against the cage, and as he was setting up an uppercut, Evans shot a devastating right hand that landed right on the money.
Seeing Liddell go down like a sack of meat by the same move we’ve seen him use on his opponents time and time again was just a huge shock and an iconic moment that went down in history.
It was also a knockout that allowed Evans to fight for the light heavyweight title, which he used by knocking out Forrest Griffin in the next fight.
10. Conor McGregor KOs Jose Aldo at UFC 194
The fight between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo was one of UFC history’s most highly anticipated matchups. McGregor and Aldo should’ve fought several months earlier at UFC 189, but Aldo had been forced to withdraw due to an injury.
McGregor faced Chad Mendes instead and took the interim featherweight title, only giving him more trash-talking material. When the fight to unify the featherweight titles finally happened at UFC 194, there were two groups of people: the ones that wanted to see Aldo shut McGregor up for good and those who wanted Conor to back his words in the cage.
However, I believe no one saw what was coming until it happened, especially in the featherweight division, where knockouts aren’t as often as they are in higher weight classes.
McGregor needed only 13 seconds to put the seemingly undefeatable featherweight kingpin to bed. Aldo came at Conor hard and fast, so the Irishman just pulled himself a step back and used Aldo’s forward momentum to land his signature left hand right on the chin, putting Jose to sleep with the first punch of the fight.
9. Dan Henderson KOs Michael Bisping at UFC 100
Between McGregor and Aldo, the trash talker was able to back up his words with action. But, when it comes to the fight between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, it was the other way around.
As usual, Bisping talked trash for months building up the fight, while Henderson kept quiet and let his fists do the talking in the cage. And, oh, they talked.
Midway through the second round of their UFC 100 matchup, Hendo banged out a devastating punch that put The Count to sleep before he even hit the ground. The referee was slow to react, so Dan was able to deliver one more spectacular hit in a WWE fashion, leaping through the air and landing a booming, flying hammer fist to Bisping’s face.
It was claimed as a Knockout of the Year in 2009, and it remains one of the most GIF’ed and meme’d move in UFC history.
8. Scott Smith KOs Pete Sell at TUF 4 Finale
This one was just as amazing as any other right-hand knockout we’ve seen, but what made it so special was the way it was delivered.
Pete Sell scored a fantastic body shot on Scott Smith at The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale that had Smith folding. Sell saw the opportunity and quickly ran towards Smith, moving in for the kill. Then all of a sudden, BOOM!
Out of nowhere, Smith exploded with a right hand that caught Sell right on the chin. His forward momentum made the shot even more devastating as he fell to the ground, lights out. Smith fell down after him with an injury, but the fight was already over.
It was one of the most shocking sequences in UFC history – at least that I can think of.
7. Anderson Silva KOs Vitor Belfort at UFC 126
Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort had been training partners for a long time before they separated, meaning they knew each other very well. The crowd was split: some wanted to see a change at the top where Silva reigned for years, while others wanted to see yet another spectacular knockout by the phenomenal middleweight champion.
Needless to say, the latter crowd got their wish.
Near the end of round one, Belfort moved half a step too close, trying to close the distance between him and the champ. That half of a step and only a half-second was enough for Anderson to bang out a lethal front kick that landed right on Belfort’s face and folded him down on the ground.
Silva finished with a few more punches on the ground to land one of the most fantastic knockouts we have ever seen.
6. Chuck Liddell KOs Randy Couture at UFC 52
Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture at UFC 52 marked the second time the two legends collided in the Octagon. Couture knocked Liddell out in their first matchup to win the UFC interim light heavyweight title. Now, it was the Iceman’s turn to shine.
Midway through the first round, Chuck applied pressure as he always does as Couture moved laterally across the cage. Suddenly, a lightning-fast right hand landed on the button, and Couture flew to the ground.
Not even a ground-and-pound finish was needed, as Chuck started running across the Octagon screaming – he became the undisputed champion. It was the knockout of the year in 2005, and rightfully so, considering who it came against.
The two legends collided once more a year later, and the outcome was the same – Liddell knocked Randy out once again, but it was the first knockout that went down in history.
5. Jorge Masvidal KOs Ben Askren at UFC 239
The footage right before the bell of Jorge Masvidal standing with his back against the cage and arms behind the back, just looking at Ben Askren and smiling like he knew what’s about to happen, is almost as iconic as the knockout that ensued a few seconds later.
I mean, literally, a few seconds later.
The bell went off, and Masvidal knew that Askren (a grappling specialist) would look to shoot for a takedown right away. So, Jorge ran towards him, jumped in the air, and landed a spectacular flying knee right to Askren’s head as he, indeed, shot for a takedown, putting him to sleep in only five seconds.
It would’ve been three if the ref was any closer to stop the fight as soon as Ben went to sleep, but still, to this day, it’s the fastest knockout in UFC history. And, quite frankly, I don’t think we’ll ever see a faster one.
4. Gabriel Gonzaga KOs Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70
This fight came as a huge shock to the fans, to the UFC, and I believe to the fighters involved, too. The fight between Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic was supposed to be the fight that set up a Cro Cop – Randy Couture heavyweight title fight. Well, Gonzaga had other plans.
The round was going well for Cro Cop. He applied some pressure, landed some nice shots, and absorbed everything that Gonzaga had to throw. Until the unforgettable happened.
Just before the end of the round, Gabriel pulled a head kick out of nowhere that had Cro Cop folded on the ground in a split second. The image of Mirko’s foot turning 180 degrees inwards as he fell to the ground was just a huge shock, especially knowing how many fighters suffered the same fate against Cro Cop.
To this day, it remains one of the most iconic head kicks in UFC history, as well as one of the most shocking knockouts in MMA history too, as Gonzaga used Cro Cop’s signature move to put him to sleep.
3. Edson Barboza KOs Terry Etim at UFC 142
Edson Barboza is known for his brutal low kicks. But, the kick he landed against Terry Etim at UFC 142 was anything but low.
The entire fight was incredibly exciting, with Barboza applying the pressure and landing his low kicks left and right. That’s probably why Etim never saw the finishing kick coming.
Barboza spun and landed a spectacular wheel kick right on the money in the middle of the third round. The slow-motion footage clearly shows that Etim was out before he even hit the ground.
It remains one of the most fantastic knockouts we’ve seen in UFC history. It earned Barboza Knockout of the Night honors, while the entire match was deemed Fight of the Night.
2. Joaquin Buckley KOs Impa Kasanganay at UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen
I don’t think we have ever seen a knockout quite as spectacular as the knockout we’ve witnessed just recently at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi – especially not from a newcomer like Joaquin Buckley.
He fought Impa Kasanganay at UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen, and it seemed like things were going well for his opponent. At one point, Kasanganay caught Buckley’s foot after an attempted middle kick and didn’t let go for a few seconds.
Most fighters would see that as troublesome, but Buckley saw it as an opportunity. He jumped up in the air, spun, and landed a breathtaking, shocking kick that had Kasanganay convulsing even before he fell to the ground.
Media sites quickly deemed it the most incredible knockout in UFC history, and they weren’t far from the truth.
1. Yair Rodriguez KOs Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night: Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez
I have this as my number one best knockout in UFC history because of the way it had happened. I believe we have never seen a fight quite like this one, and I am sure we’ll never see one again.
Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez battled the entire night. It was a Fight of the Year candidate even before it finished. The guys went back and forth the entire night, landing fantastic shots.
The Korean Zombie had the upper hand points-wise, which made the finish even more baffling. Although he would get the decision victory, he decided to go for one last shot in the last second of the fight. That’s when the biggest shock in UFC history happened.
Rodriguez ducked down and banged an inverted upward elbow that landed right on Sung Jung’s face, sending him down to the canvas. The ref stopped the fight in the literal last second, giving El Pantera the knockout victory instead of a decision victory for The Korean Zombie.