When discussing the sport with those who aren't in the know, you have to explain submissions, who's winning the fight, and the reason(s) they should be entertained.
You don't have to explain knockouts.
For some incredible reason, 2015 had an preponderance of absolutely terrific knockouts. And trying to pick just five was no easy task, hence the overloaded honorable mentions.
Let's get right to it:
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Thiago Santos vs. Steve Bosse, Paul Felder vs. Danny Castillo, Shawn Jordan vs. Derrick Lewis, Stephen Thompson vs. Jake Ellenberger
5. Hisaki Kato vs. Joe Schilling
It’s matchmaking 101: If you’ve got a decorated kickboxer willing to have a go in the cage, match him up with an inexperienced striker for him to maul. If said striker had recently been knocked out, so much the better.
At least that was the plan when Bellator pitted GLORY title contender Joe Schilling against unheralded Hisaki Kato. Instead, Kato controlled Schilling on the ground for the first five minutes before obliterating him with a gorgeous Superman punch.
Takedowns change everything, as they say.
4. Thomas Almeida vs. Brad Pickett
In addition to being one of the best fights of the year, these two showed, in a nutshell, the pros and cons of boxing versus traditional kickboxing. Pickett took full advantage of the former with some of the best head movement I’ve ever seen from him, ripping the upright Brazilian with power hooks and putting him in more danger than ever before in his career.
Almeida, sporting some serious facial damage, then demonstrated that while deep weaving may protect you from punches, there are plenty of other ways to hurt people. He decked "One Punch" with a savage elbow to regain some momentum at the end of the first round and then, when Pickett again ducked in in the second, nearly took his head off with a perfect flying knee.
Pickett had never been knocked out, and some of the blows he survived against Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald suggested that he would never be knocked out. Almeida faced adversity, adapted and accomplished a never-before-seen feat.
Not bad at all.
3. Uriah Hall vs. Gegard Mousasi
The "Tekken Combo" is an elusive sight in MMA. Nate Marquardt used to be an absolute boss at them, from his across-the-cage rushdown of Wilson Gouveia to his brutal finish of Tyron Woodley to win the Strikeforce Welterweight title. Alas, "The Great’s" decline has left us bereft of ridiculous multi-part finishes.
That’s where Uriah Hall comes in.
After being thoroughly dominated by Gegard Mousasi for the entirety of the first round, Hall timed him coming in with a spinning back kick flush to the face. Mousasi -- who had never been knocked out or even visibly rocked -- stumbled back, and in a panicked attempt to score a takedown, ducked right into a flying knee. Hall managed to put him away with follow-up punches and, in the process, notch the biggest win of his topsy-turvy career.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
2. Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo
Not much to say here, really. Aldo opened with a 2-3 rather than his usual jab and McGregor landed the same backstep left cross with which he originally punched his ticket into the organization. Aldo’s momentum and McGregor’s considerable power combined for a stunning knockout of a man who, the year prior, had absorbed one of the greatest uppercuts in recent memory with no ill effects.
And all this in 13 seconds.
1. Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
Holly Holm straight-up took Ronda Rousey to school. For nearly six full minutes, the massive underdog ran the champion into power punches, avoided her submission game, and even scored a takedown after eating the one real punch that Rousey managed to land.
Then came the finish.
After stumbling Rousey with another of her innumerable left hands, Holm caught the champion with a beauty of a left high kick for a stunning knockout. No "technical" about it -- Rousey got knocked the absolute hell out.
Holm’s underdog status, Rousey’s reign of terror, the technical brilliance of Holm’s fight and finishing strike, and the sheer brutality of Rousey hitting the ground unconscious combine to make this the finest knockout of 2015.
Just one more to go, and that means it's time to find the "Top 5 Fights of 2015." See you in a few hours, Maniacs.