Sure, grappling and punching is fun to watch. But in the brutal, no-holds-barred sport of MMA, there’s nothing quite like a knockout.
The combination of perfect timing and sheer physical force with the shock, awe, and surprise of getting slammed in the face is almost like an art form. (A very bloody one, at that.)
Here are some of the most astounding knockouts in MMA history:
Conor McGregor KOs Jose Aldo, UFC 194
Conor McGregor has become the biggest name in the UFC, and this battle with Jose Aldo in 2015 is one of the main reasons why. After deflecting a kick from McGregor, Aldo lunged in and tried to get position—but “The Notorious” connected with a lightning-fast left-handed cross, putting Aldo down for the count. Total fight time: 13 seconds, the fastest win ever in a UFC title fight.
Chuck Liddell KOs Randy Couture, UFC 52
“The Iceman” took down rival Randy Couture with one decisive blow at UFC 52, which at the time was one of the most anticipated events in MMA history, especially because Couture had previously defeated Liddell by knockout. This time, though, it was Liddell’s turn for revenge. After a time-out—Couture claimed he was poked in the eye—an aggressive Couture pushed forced Liddell to fight on the defensive. But moments after connecting on a few punches, Liddell snuck a perfectly placed right jab into Couture’s chin, knocking him out to take the UFC Light Heavyweight title.
Dan Henderson KOs Michael Bisping, UFC 100
Michael Bisping talked a lot of trash to Dan Henderson heading into UFC 100. “Hendo,” however, let his fists do the talking. Though he’s eight years older than Bisping, Henderson landed a furious shot that grounded Bisping. In true Mortal Kombat style, Henderson dove at Bisping for a finishing move. But it was totally unnecessary: Bisping was out cold before he even hit the mat.
Matt Serra KOs Georges St-Pierre, UFC 69
Despite being outmatched on paper, “The Terror” refused to back down in this welterweight title fight. After knocking down St-Pierre on the border of the Octagon with a hard right fist, Serra leapt on his opponent and hit him with a barrage of punches until the fight was called. The matchup at UFC 69 marked a changing of the guard after Serra knocked out the heavily favored St-Pierre for the welterweight title.
Rashad Evans KOs Chuck Liddell, UFC 88
The two fighters battled back and forth in the opening round, but “Suga” Evans scored enough shots to chip away at “The Iceman” Liddell’s composure. By the second round, Liddell had dropped his guard and gotten more aggressive—to a fault. Liddell backed Evans into the cage, and just as he was about to strike with his right hand, Evans fired off a quick left jab before landing a booming right squarely on Liddell’s chin. “The Iceman” was melted with one punch.
Anderson Silva KOs Vitor Belfort, UFC 126
“The Spider” used all of his senses in this middleweight matchup against former training partner Vitor Belfort at UFC 126. Silva landed a perfectly timed kick to Belfort’s face in the first round, forcing him to the ground before finishing the fight with a flurry of punches. It may have been the fists that officially ended this one, but Silva scored the knockout with his phenomenal kick.
Chris Weidman KOs Anderson Silva, UFC 162
The headliner of UFC 162 between Weidman and Anderson Silva lived up to its billing. Silva entered the Octagon that night at 16-0, the longest title run in the history of the organization. The Brazilian tried to bait the undefeated Weidman into a corner, showboating his way around the ring. But “The All-American” Weidman decided to put an end to it. Silva was able to avoid a couple strikes by Weidman, but eventually Weidman’s left fist caught him on the chin, and “The Spider” got washed out.
Phil Baroni KOs Dave Menne, UFC 39
Baroni, the so-called “New York Bad Ass,” took care of business in quick fashion against Dave Menne in their middleweight fight at UFC 39. Just 18 seconds into the match, Baroni aggressively closed in on Menne, punching him in the head to force him up on the cage. But he wasn’t done: Baroni landed five more shots on Menne’s head within seconds before being declared the winner. (And as memorable as his win was, the celebration may be even better.)
Holly Holm KOs Ronda Rousey, UFC 193
The match between Holm and “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey was one of the most anticipated of the year—and one of the most surprising. Rousey was the heavy favorite to beat Holm, but the “Preacher’s Daughter” kept the faith in herself. A boxing specialist, the taller, rangier Holm eliminated Rousey’s greatest strength—her judo skill—by keeping “Rowdy” on her feet and forcing her to fight with her fist. After a few punishing boxing combinations left the normally dominant Rousey bleeding and disoriented, Holm finished her off with a furious left kick to the head that flung her onto the mat. Holm ended up taking the bantamweight title, leaving Rousey with a bloody, broken face and the first loss of her career.
Chuck Liddell KOs Tito Ortiz, UFC 47
The lengthy lead up to Liddell–Ortiz only made this battle at UFC 47 even more of an event. (The two went back and forth for a year before finally agreeing to the light heavyweight bout.) Liddell took control of things early in the second round, backing Ortiz into the cage before unleashing a furious array of punches at his head. Ortiz did his best to cover up, but the flurry of uppercuts, jabs, and punches was simply too much to handle—Liddell finished him off to earn the knockout and the win.