Photo by Josh Hedges, Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Lyoto Machida, Anthony Johnson, Nate Marquardt, Cung Le and Edson Barboza all have one thing in common: Mixed martial arts (MMA) highlight-reel knockouts in 2012.
As you shove turkey into your mouth hole this afternoon, hurriedly flipping between football games before passing out in a bloated heap of tryptophan and lost fantasy points, remember to give thanks to the people who helped make you who you are and the things that get you through the day.
We here at MMAmania also wish to show our appreciation for the sport we love, the sport that's given us so many wonderful nights and memories that will last a lifetime.
To that end, we have created "5 Top 5's," lists of the very best mixed martial arts (MMA) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has had to offer so far in 2012. Sit back, prop your feet up, and follow me as we kick things off with the Top 5 "Knockouts of the Year."
Here we go:
#5 (Tie): Bow to your sensei -- Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Thiago Silva at UFC on Fuel TV 2 and Anthony Johnson vs. D.J. Linderman at World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 1
There are a whole lot of ways a knockout can be great and a whole lot of arguments you can have over which ones take precedence. What every fan of every sport can agree on, though, is that faceplants are awesome.
Back in April at UFC on FUEL TV 2: "Gustafsson vs. Silva," Paulo Thiago had just broken a two-fight losing streak and was out to once again stake a claim in the Welterweight elite. Unfortunately, he decided to do so by rushing directly at nuclear-fisted Afghan Siyar Bahadurzada, who had the Brazilian supercop eating canvas in just 42 seconds for his fifth consecutive (technical) knockout.
D.J. Linderman found himself in a similar situation when his eyepoke of Anthony Johnson at the inaugural World Series of Fighting got him so pumped that he completely forgot just who he was fighting and ran headlong into a bomb of a right hand.
Reports that he had to be placed on a stretcher by means of spatula remain unconfirmed.
#4: Un, deux, trois, quatre, adieux -- Nate Marquardt vs. Tyron Woodley at Strikeforce
Tyron Woodley had a reputation for putting on ... let's call them "not very aesthetically pleasing" fights. Nate Marquardt had a reputation for being in awesome fights. Something had to give.
Thankfully, it was the former.
The two put on a hell of a show at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, rocking one another on multiple occasions as Woodley's power and wrestling battled for dominance with Marquardt's size and veteran savvy. In the end, the latter's prowess in the clinch proved too much as he chopped Woodley's "0" to pieces with a brutal four-piece combination.
Not bad for a welterweight debut.
#3: Ramming always works -- Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4
There are many ways of fighting a counter-striker; you can try to counter-strike yourself, stalling until he's forced to go on the offensive. Alternately, you can use controlled aggression to fluster him and shut down his game.
Or, as Ryan Bader figured at UFC on FOX 4, you can run right the hell at him with one hand at your waist and hope for the best.
No guarantees on that last one.
#2: Quarry'd -- Cung Le vs. Rich Franklin at UFC on Fuel TV 6
An upset knockout from a guy not known for his hands that resulted in one of the most hilarious faceplants in recent memory? Yes, please.
Headlining the latest UFC on FUEL TV 6 card against Rich Franklin, few gave Cung Le much of a chance. He'd been very frank about an ongoing foot injury and had taken a lot of time out of training for "The Man with the Iron Fists." Bar some crazy kick, most agreed, Franklin would take him to the deep waters and flatten him once his gas tank ran out.
No plan survives first contact with the enemy, especially if that contact is a monstrous counter right hook that knocks your brain into the upper deck.
#1: The wheels on the bus go KTFO -- Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim at UFC 142
Honestly, could the No. 1 seed be anything else? Beautiful technique from Edson Barboza, brilliant timing from Joe Rogan's commentary, and a rather amusing and Photoshop-fertile fall from Etim.
Wonderful, wonderful knockout.
There were plenty more spectacular finishes, from Stephen Thompson's head kick on Dan Stittgen to Brad Pickett's bone-crushing uppercut on Yves Jabouin. Did one of those deserve to be on this list? Is my ordering all wrong?
Let me know in the comments while you wait for the next installment of "5 Top 5s," featuring the top "Submissions of the Year."