The 2017 calendar year delivered 39 entertaining, action-packed cards, and with the 12 months of scraps now in our rear view, I’m going to reflect on my top 10 knockouts of the year. These are all my opinion, so feel free to voice yours in the comments below or on Twitter @GabeKillianMMA.
10) Chan Sung Jung‘s blistering knockout of Dennis Bermudez (UFC Fight Night 104, Feb. 4)
“The Korean Zombie” made his return to the Octagon following a very extended layoff, during which he was serving in the Korean military. He made big noise in his debut, as he dispensed Bermudez very quickly, making short work of the generally tough-to-finish and durable featherweight. Fight fans everywhere have since been anticipating Jung’s next bout, which has yet to come due to him being sidelined with injuries.
9) Rose Namajunas‘ domination and dethrone-ation of Joanna Jedredczyk (UFC 217, Nov. 4)
It was pure beauty, as “Thug Rose” took control of the fight from the opening bell, getting the better of Jedredczyk on the feet, dropping and hurting her once, before doing it again and following it up for the finish. The former champ tapped, but the bout was officially ruled a TKO victory for Namajunas, making her the new UFC Strawweight Champion. Fight fans are looking forward to her first title defense.
8) Humberto Bandenay‘s brutal flush knee knockout of Martin Bravo (UFC Fight Night 114, Aug. 5)
Bandenay defeated the formerly undefeated Bravo with a perfectly times knee less than half a minute into the opening round of action. It was a picture perfect UFC debut for Bandenay, who added the best highlight to his reel.
7) Alex Oliveira‘s vicious uppercut knockout of Ryan LaFlare (UFC on FOX 25, July 22)
LaFlare outwrestled Oliveira in the opening round of action, but the Brazilian came back strong in the second, catching LaFlare with a step in uppercut and putting him out cold. It was a beautiful finish by Oliveira, who went on to have one of the best fights of the year against Yancy Medeiros.
6) Edson Barboza‘s flying knee knockout of Beneil Dariush (UFC Fight Night 106, Mar. 11)
Dariush got the better of Barboza in the opening stanza, but the Brazilian caught on to the fact that Dariush was using his jab to set ups his takedown attempts, so he timed a perfect flying knee that rendered Dariush unconscious. It was an impressive finish by Barboza, and yet another highlight added to his extensive reel.
5) Damir Hadzovic‘s lead step in knee knockout of Mercin Held (UFC Fight Night 109, May 28)
Hadzovic was outgrappled by Held and down two rounds on all three judges’ scorecards heading into the third and final round of action, where an unfortunately timed roll got him caught by a lead knee by Hadzovic; a maneuver he had been favoring throughout the contest and eventually caught Held with, putting him out cold. It was the first UFC victory for Hadzovic, who is expected to make his Octagon return in early 2018.
4) Holly Holm‘s “you get what you ask for” headkick knockout of Bethe Correia (UFC Fight Night 111, June 17)
Correia was waving Holm in and Holm obliged with a headkick, dropping the Brazilian to the canvas and following up with punches to secure the victory. It was an excellent highlight reel victory for Holm, and the fourth by headkick in her mixed martial arts career.
3) Darren Elkins‘ big come from behind knockout of heavily favored Mirsad Bektic (UFC 209, Mar. 4)
“The Damage” had his nickname newly tattooed on his chest heading into this contest, which was the joke of the week. Nobody was laughing anymore after his fight, as he fully lived up to his moniker in one of the toughest tests of his career. He was down two one-sided rounds heading into the third, where his cardio proved to be superior. Elkins found his moment in the final round, managing to hurt Bektic with his hands and then put him away with a headkick. Technically, it was more of a facekick. This was a huge victory for the veteran and definitely a major moment in his career.
2) Mike Perry‘s ruthless standing elbow knockout of Jake Ellenberger (UFC Fight Night 108, Apr. 22)
Ellenberger outstruck and outgrappled Perry in the opening round, but “Platinum” came out strong in the second. After dropping Ellenberger with a punch, he ended up catching him again with an a step-in elbow, dropping him to the mat and putting him out cold. I was in the arena for this bout and was truly worried about Ellenberger, who was unconscious for several minutes. I felt bad for Ellenberger, but you’ve got to give props where they are due, and I feel Perry’s ability to put away a superior fighter in such highlight reel fashion earned him the number two slot on my list. Last year, Ellenberger made #6 on my list with his first round finish of Matt Brown, but unfortunately this year he showed up on the other side.
1) Francis Ngannou‘s devastatingly freakish knockout of Alistair Overeem (UFC 218, Dec. 2)
It’s safe to say that everyone can agree that knocking out Overeem, in the first round or otherwise, is not a big deal at all. Even the worst heavyweight on the roster has a chance at defeating him, as long they can land clean on the button just one time. Knowing that, and the fact that Ngannou still managed to put “The Reem” away in such a fashion that had the MMA world buzzing for weeks just goes to show you how impressive of a finish it was. It is a highlight among highlights, as arguably the baddest man on the planet, with one punch, flatlines arguably the best striker in the division. The punch lands clean and puts Overeem out stiff. In a career of many knockouts, this very well may have been the scariest for him. It was scary to watch and he was out for quite a while. Ngannou surely put the scare in the rest of the division with that performance and finish, notching the number one slot on my list.