Jaw-Dropping Head Kicks, Devastating Knees and More
The best MMA knockouts not only exemplify the sheer power and precision of these athletes but also represent critical turning points in their careers. From jaw-dropping head kicks to devastating knees, these blood-pumping knockouts signify the unpredictable and electric nature of MMA.
Whether you're new to the sport or a seasoned fan, the primal thrill and excitement of a well-executed knockout can leave a lasting mark in your mind that's hard to forget. While many of the KOs on our list are from 2023, many are not.
Great performances, especially the ones that end in a vicious KO will keep us talking about them for years to come.
Here are 16 of our favorite MMA knockouts from over the years:
- Robbie Lawler vs Niko Price
- Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
- Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
- Sean O’Malley vs. Aljamain Sterling
- Roman Kopylov vs Claudio Ribeiro
- Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau
- Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman
- Josh Silveira vs. Ty Flores
- Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye
- Mark Fairtex Abelardo vs. Emilio Urrutia
- Islam Makhachev vs. Alex Volkanovski
- Raymond Daniels vs Wilker Barros
- Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier
- Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
- Josh Emmett vs. Bryce Mitchell
- Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
1. Robbie Lawler vs Niko Price
In the highly anticipated 2023 bout, Robbie Lawler delivered a sensational KO victory over Niko Price that showcased his veteran experience and striking power. The brutal encounter saw Lawler utilizing a calculated approach, exploiting openings in Price's defenses.
The decisive moment came during the first few seconds of the first round, when Lawler unleashed a left hook that connected squarely with Price's jaw, followed up by a collar tie and flurry of punches. This knockout victory not only reinforced Robbie Lawler's status as a Hall of Fame fighter but also marked Lawler's final professional fight, since he retired.
2. Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
The 2011 matchup between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort remains a defining moment in MMA history. Silva, known for his dynamism and unpredictability, delivered one of the most memorable knockouts using an impeccably timed and perfectly placed front kick.
This unexpected shot to Belfort's face, instantly downed Belfort and led to Silva's win. The knockout was not just a testament to Silva's skill and creativity, but it also affirmed his status as one of the greatest fighters in the sport.
It continues to be a KO that fans and aspiring fighters will always remember.
3. Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
In 2019, Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas went head-to-head in a thrilling matchup at UFC 237, where Andrade emerged victorious. Throughout the fight, Namajunas displayed dominance in the early rounds, but Andrade managed to turn the tide by slamming Namajunas head-first onto the canvas.
This high-impact maneuver resulted in a KO victory for Andrade in the second round, making her the new UFC Women's Strawweight Champion. Despite being on the back foot during the initial part of the fight, Andrade's resilience and explosive power solidified her standing as an undeniable competitor in the strawweight division.
4. Sean O’Malley vs. Aljamain Sterling
At UFC 292 in 2023, Suga Sean O'Malley showcased his phenomenal striking prowess against Aljamain Sterling. O'Malley's precision and unorthodox fighting style earned him the Bantamweight Champion title.
The climax arrived in the beginning of the second round when O'Malley connected a swift and accurate right cross to Sterling's jaw, sending him to the mat and stunning audiences around the world. With this knockout victory, O'Malley solidified his status in the Bantamweight division and demonstrated the evolution and high-level striking capabilities.
5. Roman Kopylov vs Claudio Ribeiro
In 2023, Roman Kopylov delivered a performance to remember, using a swift and devastating head kick to claim a KO victory over Claudio Ribeiro. The duel, full of back-and-forth exchanges, was ultimately decided in the second round.
Kopylov, waiting patiently for Ribeiro to lower his guard, launched his right leg with lightning speed, connecting with the side of Ribeiro's head. The brutal head kick sent Ribeiro tumbling to the canvas, unable to continue.
This victory earned Kopylov a reputation as a powerful striker with lethal footwork. It also demonstrated his ability to control pace and find openings during intense battles.
6. Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau
Brandon Royval displayed an impressive blend of striking and technique in his 2023 bout against Matheus Nicolau, culminating in an unforgettable knockout victory. Royval masterfully used feints to exploit Nicolau's defensive approach, landing a powerful rear knee that stunned his opponent.
Just over 3 minutes into the first round, Royval unleashed a perfectly timed rear knee, connecting with Nicolau's chin and sending him crashing to the canvas in a spectacular finish. This victory highlighted Royval's explosive potential and versatility, securing his position as a tenacious contender to watch within the Flyweight division, as well as emphasizing the evolution of his skills as a well-rounded MMA fighter.
7. Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman
At UFC 278, Leon Edwards secured a landmark victory with his stunning head kick KO against Kamaru Usman. This clash of titans was packed with action, as Edwards showcased a relentless determination to overcome Usman's aggressive grappling.
With the fight scored in Usman's favor through the first four rounds, Edwards seized control in the fifth. A brutal combination from Edwards broke Usman's guard, leaving him open to a ferocious head kick that landed flush on Usman's temple.
The devastating head kick gave Edwards a shocking triumph over a formidable opponent and solidified his position among the ranks of UFC Welterweight greats.
8. Josh Silveira vs. Ty Flores
PFL 7, held in Austin, Texas featured a Light Heavyweight title fight between Josh Silveira and Ty Flores. At 4:46 minutes into Round 1, Silveira defeated Flores using knees from the Muay Thai clinch.
Silveira's victory during this bout demonstrated his potential to become a future champion in the Light Heavyweight division of the Professional Fighter's League.
9. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye
Valentina Shevchenko's stunning head kick knockout win over Jessica Eye boldly highlighted her striking prowess and tactical precision. The battle began with Shevchenko controlling the fight, dictating the pace and landing damaging blows in the first few rounds.
However, it was her lightning-fast left head kick in the second round that truly defined the match. Shevchenko's shin connected to Eye's temple, causing an immediate knockout and leaving her opponent unconscious before hitting the canvas.
This victory solidified Shevchenko's standing as a dominant force within the Women's Flyweight division and emphasized her lethal striking capabilities.
10. Mark Fairtex Abelardo vs. Emilio Urrutia
Mark Fairtex Abelardo delivered a stellar performance in his bout against Emilio Urrutia, claiming victory with a spectacular elbow KO. The fight was characterized by Abelardo's unrelenting intensity and impeccable timing.
After a series of hard-fought exchanges, Abelardo found an opening within Urrutia's defense during the mid-round exchanges, landing a precise and devastating elbow strike to Urrutia's jaw. The force of the blow sent Urrutia crashing to the mat, and the referee promptly intervened.
This emphatic victory put Abelardo's superior striking skills and power on display for the world to see, securing his status as a fearsome competitor in One FC's Featherweight division.
11. Islam Makhachev vs. Alex Volkanovski
At UFC 294, Islam Makhachev showcased his striking prowess against Alex Volkanovski with a punishing head kick victory. The fight was marked by Makhachev's brilliance in exploiting openings, demonstrating his increasing striking skills along with his world-class grappling.
After a grueling series of exchanges, Makhachev launched a perfectly timed left head kick that crashed into Volkanovski's temple in round one. The blow sent Volkanovski spiraling to the ground, unable to recover in time.
This victory propelled Makhachev ahead in the UFC Lightweight rankings, emphasizing his efficient blend of striking and grappling as a critical element to his success.
12. Raymond Daniels vs Wilker Barros
In 2019 at Bellator Birmingham, Raymond Daniels encountered Wilker Barros in a phenomenal duel, earning an absolutely iconic knockout victory. Known for his flamboyant style, Daniels personified his reputation by delivering two lightning-fast spinning back kicks.
The first kick partially connected, knocking Barros off balance but not out cold. Without missing a beat, Daniels quickly followed with an impossible-looking 720-degree tornado spin punch that landed flush on Barros's jaw, sending him into the shadow lands.
This thrilling display of Daniels's athletic prowess showcased his dynamic striking capabilities, earning him not just a win, but also a remarkable highlight for the history books.
13. Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier
Justin Gaethje demonstrated his striking force in his unforgettable match against Dustin Poirier, claiming victory with an electrifying head kick KO. The fight saw Gaethje controlling the tempo with patient strategy, followed by explosive bursts.
After fighting a grueling first round with intense back-and-forth exchanges, Gaethje seized an opening, launching a right cross-to-head kick combination that smashed Poirier's temple with almost perfect accuracy. The sheer force of the strike sent Poirier sprawling to the mat, unable to recover.
This victory not only highlighted Gaethje's formidable striking power but also reinforced his reputation as a thrilling and relentless competitor in the Men's UFC Lightweight division.
14. Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
At UFC 287, Israel Adesanya achieved an iconic knockout victory over Alex Pereira, a victory that (at the time) solidified his position as the undisputed king of the Middleweight division. The fight was dominated by Adesanya's accuracy and precision, delivering strikes that used Pereira's aggressive approach against him.
In the third round, Adesanya seized an opening and landed a sublime right hook to Pereira's chin. Pereira hit the canvas, unable to recover, marking a sensational victory for Adesanya.
This triumph underscored Adesanya's standing as one of the absolute best strikers in MMA, blending technique, creativity, and power to devastating effect.
15. Josh Emmett vs. Bryce Mitchell
During their bout at UFC 296, at just 1 minute and 57 seconds into the first round, Josh Emmett delivered a sledgehammer of an overhand right that put Bryce Mitchell on the canvas.
The KO strike showcased Emmett's pinpoint accuracy and power, reinforcing his status as a serious contender in the Men's UFC Featherweight division. The victory over Mitchell marked a high point in Emmett's UFC career, underlining his remarkable career of 19 wins and 4 losses.
16. Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
At UFC 193 in 2015, Holly Holm pulled off a sensational head kick knockout against Ronda Rousey. It was the victory that awarded Holm with the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion belt.
The pace of the bout was led by Holm and pitted Holm's world championship technical boxing against Rousey's world champion judo style.
However, in the second round, Holm fired an explosive left high kick that connected perfectly with Rousey's head, resulting in an immediate knockout. The brutal finish shocked fans around the world and marked an important time in MMA history.
Strategy, Precision, Power and Timing
Some of the best MMA knockouts are as chilling as they are thrilling. These chosen moments of unanticipated ferocity represent more than just the physical prowess of the combatants.
Sometimes knockouts just happen. Other times, they're the result of well-executed strategy, precision, and an exquisite understanding of the craft, bound together by raw power and impeccable timing.
They are reminders of the lethal artistry that lies at the heart of MMA, showcasing both the brutality and the beauty of this unforgiving sport. From beautifully timed head kicks to stunning one-punch KOs, these momentous occurrences personify the exhilarating unpredictability that keeps us, as fans, on the edge of our seats.
As the sport continues to evolve, we look forward to more breathtaking knockouts the future will bring, forever etching new names and new moments into the halls of MMA lore. These are the moments where technique meets power, and legends are born.