In a year with several spectacular knockouts, Edson Barboza’s wheel kick finish of Terry Etim at UFC 142 in January 2012 was far and away the best. It had it all – speed, power, technique, accuracy, and pure ‘wow’ effect. Etim was out the second he got caught by Barboza, and the scary part is that when asked about the finisher, the Brazilian Muay Thai expert said, “To be honest, no, I don’t train that kick much. I like to train the basic things like body kicks or low kicks. But I’ve known how to do that kick since I was eight years old, when I started training Muay Thai. I think I have been keeping it inside of my mind, and when I need it I throw it out.” Wow.
4 – ANDERSON SILVA VS VITOR BELFORT
Anderson Silva was more amped up than usual for his middleweight title defense against former training partner Vitor Belfort, and he made sure “The Phenom” was aware of his intentions as he knocked him out with a front kick to the face that Silva friend (and action film star) Steven Seagal claimed to have taught him.
3 – FRANCIS NGANNOU VS ALISTAIR OVEREEM
In a long MMA career, Alistair Overeem has been stopped via strikes before. But the finality in which Francis Ngannou lowered the boom on “The Demolition Man” was one of those reminders that when heavyweights start throwing hands, there’s no more dangerous place to be in the world of sports than in the Octagon. Ngannou was already a pretty intimidating figure before his December 2017 win over Overeem. But as December 2 turned into December 3, the whole world knew that “The Predator” was one of the scariest dudes on the planet.
2 – CHRIS WEIDMAN VS ANDERSON SILVA I
Seeing Anderson Silva lose for the first time in the UFC was shocking enough; to see it happen by knockout doubled the shock, but that’s just what Chris Weidman did against the future Hall of Famer, staying aggressive and not getting reckless as Silva showboated, and when “The Spider” dropped his hands once too many times, Weidman made him pay with a left hook that put Silva on the deck and began the finishing sequence of strikes that crowned a new middleweight champion.
1 – CONOR MCGREGOR VS JOSE ALDO
If Conor McGregor’s 13-second finish of Jose Aldo was a video game, we would call it a flawless victory. Getting in and out with frightening precision, a single left hook sent Aldo to the mat in the opening seconds of the most highly-anticipated bout of 2015, and a couple hammerfists later, “The Notorious” one was the undisputed featherweight champion and a man who was about to take us all on a ride we had never seen in mixed martial arts before.