However much the mixed martial arts (MMA) meta evolves, it’s a given that people are still going to render each other unconscious on a regular basis. This year was absolutely choked with wild finishes to the point where a 20-strong list might have made more sense, but we had to whittle them down somehow. Let’s check out 2021’s “Knockouts of the Year.”
5. The “Huggy” Tornado (UFC 268)
Failing to actually knock your opponent unconscious is usually disqualifying when it comes to this list, especially when the finish involves a swarm of ugly follow-up shots, but come on. This is a 5’9,” 265-pound guy landing a flush wheel kick inside UFC’s Octagon, and I’ll be damned if I don’t give that the honor it deserves.
4. Platonic Ideal of Flying Knees (UFC Vegas 18)
Every once in a while, you’ll see an absolute perfect example of a specific strike. Mirko Cro Cop’s left high kick against Igor Vovchanchyn, Dan Henderson’s overhand right against Michael Bisping, Edson Barboza’s wheel kick against Terry Etim, etc. This flying knee from Cory Sandhagen belongs among that pantheon ... they just don’t get much prettier than this.
3. From the Jaws of Defeat (Bellator 272/UFC Vegas 19)
I couldn’t decide between the year’s two best comeback knockouts, so here’s both of them. Sergio Pettis knocking Kyoji Horiguchi stiff with a spinning back fist after getting shut out for 3.5 rounds was certainly the more elegant finish, but watching all 260 pounds of Curtis Blaydes stop dead in his tracks from a single uppercut was a highlight of brutality even among 2021’s smorgasbord of stunning moments.
2. Czech-ing into Contention (UFC Vegas 25)
Sh-t like this is why I wouldn’t shut up about Jiri Prochazka when he was tearing up the Japanese scene. The man’s mix of durability, power, creativity and impossible cardio make him the most dynamic and fascinating Light Heavyweight to grace the Octagon in ages. He marched through absolute hell from a genuine knockout artist to turn this into a war of attrition, then won said war with a spinning elbow out of nowhere.
May “Denisa” grace us with such acts of violence for years to come.
1. All the Superlatives (UFC 261)
There were cleaner knockouts in 2021. There were more technical knockouts in 2021. There were more creative knockouts in 2021. There were no “oh sh-t” knockouts quite like this one. Kamaru Usman detonated the nastiest right cross I can remember on the chin of Jorge Masvidal, whose only prior (technical) knockout loss was an early stoppage in 2008, then separated him from his senses with murderous hammer fists.
Watching Usman finally utilize the awesome power he’s always possessed has been a treat, and I’m thinking this we’ll see a lot more of this in the coming years.
What Was The Best UFC / MMA Knockout Of 2021?
This poll is closed
Chris Barnett’s big boy bomb
Cory Sandhagen’s perfect knee
Sergio Pettis’ comeback for the ages
Derrick Lewis’ comeback for the ages
Jiri Prochazka’s hellbow
Kamaru Usman’s murder punch
Other (Explain in comments section below)
- Rose Namajunas (head kick) Zhang Weili
- Abdul Razak Alhassan (head kick) Alessio Di Chirico
- Ignacio Bahamondes (wheel kick) Roosevelt Roberts
- Marlon Vera (front kick) Frankie Edgar
- Roman Faraldo (flying knee) Robert Turnquest
- Justin Barry (crescent kick) Alan Benson
- Roberto Soldic (left hook) Mamed Khalidov