There’s two things I know about people on the Internet: they like people getting hurt and really like lists. We here at MMAmania.com live to serve, and so will be offering our picks for the best assorted mixed martial arts (MMA) things of the year. We’ve done themes before, but 2018 has been kind of a nightmare. We’re going minimalist this year.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Derrick Lewis over Alexander Volkov, Jessica Andrade over Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Brian Ortega over Frankie Edgar, Yoel Romero over Luke Rockhold, more things than I can count
No. 5: The Dirtiest Boxing
It wasn’t a clean, one-punch knockout, but Daniel Cormier moving up in weight to knock out Stipe Miocic with a clinch right hand was something special.
“Cormier by knockout” was not on anybody’s list of expected outcomes. Miocic had fallen to Stefan Struve ages back, sure, but since then, he’d survived huge blows from Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, and Francis Ngannou. Cormier, despite his skill at doing damage from close range, had only knocked out Dion Staring and Patrick Cummins since 2011.
But nope, he just had to go and make us all look stupid by decking The Baddest Man on the Planet less than halfway into the first round.
No. 4: Dragon Deja Vu
It’s been at least three years since Vitor Belfort was a legitimate threat. Still, it was almost uncanny to see him front kicked in the face in almost identical fashion to his legendary 2011 loss to Anderson Silva.
There was a time when Lyoto Machida looked legitimately invincible, and though age and an increased understanding of his style’s weaknesses have long since robbed him of that aura, it’s good to see The Dragon remind us of why we were so enamored with him all those years ago.
And even if that was the last we’ll ever see of him in the Octagon, we got one hell of a final image: Belfort flopping down like a sniper victim as Machida, who knew he’d won the moment foot hit face, calmly puts his hands on his hips and watches the referee rush in, as though thinking “Yep. That’s about right.”
No. 3: Hammerfists Aren’t Supposed to Do That
Holy cow, Niko Price (12-1, 1 NC) knocks out Randy Brown with hammerfists on the bottom! The Floridian moves to 4-1 (1 NC) in the UFC; he has finished 11 of his 12 wins (eight by KO/TKO). #UFCBoise pic.twitter.com/AxCYZT3X8x— Tanuki Usman (@Hamderlei) July 15, 2018
Niko Price is … weird. We keep getting glimpses of something special, a truly monstrous puncher with a sneaky ground game to back it up. The rest of the time, we’re left to bemoan his lack of takedown defense and inconsistency with his aggression.
Against Randy Brown, another fun, flawed Welterweight, we got a taste of the latter for the first round. “Rude Boy” held his own wherever the fight went, and a bungled takedown left Price on the bottom early in the second. Suddenly, in one of the year’s odder sequences, Price braced Brown’s head/neck with his foot, then slammed home hammerfists from his back that knocked the never-before-KO’d Brown unconscious.
This was no fluke; by putting his foot where it was, Price kept Brown’s head from moving, forcing it to absorb the full impact of the hammerfists. I would just love to know if this was a specific scenario Price worked on in training or a spur-of-the-moment improvisation.
No. 2: Goga Shamatava Gets Centrifugal
The storyline and drama of the preceding fight is an integral factor in considering the year’s best knockout, but sometimes a KO is just so damn brutal and unique that it earns a spot on the list on style points alone. Such was the case when Goga Shamatava took on Pavel Pastushkov at ACP 89.
Shamatava had won 10 straight, nine by stoppage, while Pastushkov was just three fights into his pro career. Still, it was hard not to boggle when Shamatava countered a spinning back elbow with a contra-rotating spinning back elbow, resulting in the sort of kinetic collision that leaves you confused as to how the victim’s jaw stayed attached.
Here’s hoping ACB’s financial struggles don’t rob us of more opportunities to see Goga in action.
UPDATE: No. 1.5: Cyborg Deactivated
Brawling with Cris Cyborg is usually a concept that belongs in the pantheon of Dumb Ways to Die. Amanda Nunes made it work and needed less than a minute to do so.
The final blow wasn’t anything esoteric or video game-esque, but seeing an overhand right so powerful that even Cyborg, whose relentlessness is the stuff of legends, succumb was awe-inspiring. Congratulations to the women’s GOAT.
No. 1: Yair Rodriguez at the Buzzer
I think I can safely say nobody is going to disagree with this being number one.
Drama? Rodriguez was down on the scorecards, and had he thrown the strike literally one second later, he would have lost a decision. Not only that, but his opponent was in full control of the momentum.
Quality opposition? The Korean Zombie is a beast who’d looked functionally indestructible save for a George Roop head kick that would have flattened a horse.
Style? Hell, I’d never even *imagined* someone getting a knockout with a behind-the-back upward elbow. I didn’t even know what had happened until I saw the replay; I thought it was a headbutt at first.
“Pantera” got plenty of grief after his loss to Frankie Edgar, but the man is still something special. Here’s to many more years of ridiculous nonsense like this.
What was your Knockout of the Year for 2018?
This poll is closed
Daniel Cormier over Stipe Miocic
Lyoto Machida over Vitor Belfort
Niko Price over Randy Brown
Goga Shamatava over Pavel Pastushkov
Yair Rodriguez over Chan Sung Jung
Amanda Nunes over Cris Cyborg