(Image credit: UFC / Zuffa LLC)
In the striking ways of martial arts, there have been a range of sports dedicated to this way of fighting, with boxing reigning as the top combat sport for over a century. It wasn’t until the inception of the UFC and the birth of Mixed Martial Arts that there was a more versatile alternative offered to a mainstream audience.
Through a hefty combination of Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Boxing, the world of MMA has opened the gates for many athletes to step into the cage and to shut down the lights of the opposition in the most heart-stopping and creative of ways, with nothing but the human body as a weapon.
When it comes to action, a knockout can be a career maker, as the sport of MMA has demonstrated the biggest game-changing moments over the last thirty years.
Some highlights include Pete William’s explosive head kick to Mark “The Hammer” Coleman’s skull; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s earth-shattering powerbomb over Ricardo Arona; Dan “Hendo” Henderson’s solid right hand over Michael “The Count” Bisping’s chin, and, fast forward to more recently, there was of course Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal’s record-breaking, 5-second flying knee KO over Ben Askren.
We’re only just over half way into 2022, and yet we’ve already witnessed many ‘Performance of the Night’-worthy knockouts, (check out the submissions too) with more still to come! So, with all that said, let’s rock it with the Top 5 UFC Knockouts of 2022 So Far! (in descending order)
5. Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill – UFC FN 201 (Feb. 19)
After suffering a previous loss to former title contender Thiago Santos, Johnny Walker looked to bounce back with a victory over Jamahal “Sweet Dreams” Hill.
Hill was enjoying a thriving run in the UFC, with the only hiccup being his submission loss to Paul Craig, yet he looked to continue his hype by putting his opponent to sleep.
In the beginning of round 1, Hill tried to find his reach while reading Walker’s movements as he took a sharp kick to the leg.
Hill tried his luck with a high kick, but Walker kept up the pace with unpredictable movements and versatile attacks.
Despite taking kicks to the leg, Hill continued his pursuit in the hope of finding an opening, eventually getting the edge by countering Walker’s jab-cross combo with an overhand to the head.
At 2:55 in round 1, the right-hand caused Walker to fall back, with his arms flailing dramatically, getting himself knocked out in a way only he knows how.
4. Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa – UFC 271 (Feb. 12)
In December of last year, Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis broke both the UFC and UFC heavyweight division record for most knockouts (13), while Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa was enjoying the new decade with a 4-fight winning streak, all by way of knockout. A matchup between two heavyweight knockout artists would make for an explosive encounter.
Round 1 saw Lewis surprise Tuivasa with a flying head kick, followed by a right hand to the head.
With his back against the cage “Bam Bam” held his own by throwing an elbow at Lewis, and reversed the cling position with “The Black Beast’s” back facing the cage.
The former title contender would surprise Tuivasa yet again by taking him down with some explosive takedowns, yet Tuivasa managed to survive by returning to his feet and engaging Derrick in a slug fest before the end of round 1.
Continuing the excitement in round 2, Lewis connected with a flurry of right hands that rocked Tuivasa back to the cage.
Despite achieving this, Lewis failed at a takedown attempt, making up for it with a knee to the face.
His success could only last so long, however, as Tuivasa fought back with an array of right hands that stunned Lewis, before putting “The Black Beast” down with an elbow to the head.
The match was over at 1:40 of round 2, with Tuivasa being declared the winner in what turned out to be one of the most stunning upsets of the year.
3. Molly McCann vs. Luana Carolina – UFC Fight 204 (Mar. 19)
In front of a supporting crowd in London, former Cage Warriors Women’s Flyweight Champion, Molly “Meatball” McCann, took on fellow flyweight, Luana “Dread” Carolina.
At the start of round 1, McCann cut off Carolina’s attempted offence by catching her body kicks, and keeping up the pressure, rocking Carolina with a right hand and a flurry of strikes. Carolina would save herself by applying the clinch.
Despite Carolina’s precise knee and elbow strikes in round 2, it wasn’t enough to deter “Meatball” Molly as she lifted her opponent for an earth-shattering slam.
It would be “Dread” who scored more in the stand-up, thanks to her knees and elbow strikes from the utilization of her clinch, yet Molly ended round 2 with a crowd-pleasing slam.
In round 3, McCann continued her pursuit, until finally catching another body kick, and thrusting a wild, spinning elbow, knocking Carolina out cold at 1:52 of round 3.
This victory earned “Meatball” Molly her first ever knockout win in the promotion.
2. Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2 – UFC 275 (June 11)
It had been 2 years since these two legends met in the octagon in what is considered not just the best women’s fight of all time, but one of the best fights in UFC history.
Both Zhang “Magnum” Weili and Jedrzejczyk set the bar for women’s MMA, so there was a lot of expectation going into their long-awaited rematch.
In round 1, Jedrzejczyk showed her striking prowess despite being away from the action for 2 years. Yet, Weili would measure up with powerful counter punches and improved wrestling, taking the former Strawweight queen to the ground.
Jedrzejczyk managed to return to her feet to take “Magnum” down, only to have Weili reverse Jedrzejczyk’s top position, transitioning into full mount and laying down some punishing elbows to the head.
Back at stand-up, Jedrzejczyk returned with her strikes, as Weili scored with a counter takedown before round 1 ended.
In round 2, Weili absorbed the Polish queen’s flurry, and fired back with a combination of her own.
The former queen spent most of the fight as the agressor, until out of nowhere “Magnum” threw a spinning back fist that knocked Jedrzejczyk out cold.
So, just like that, the long-awaited rematch was settled at 2:28 of round 2 and Jedrzejczyk would hang up the gloves for good.
It was a close call during their first encounter, but considering Jedrzejczyk’s 2-year absence and Weili’s growth as a fighter, the gap was just too wide now for the former queen to bridge.
1. Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson – UFC 274 (May 7)
This was their chance to break their losing streak and move back to the top of the lightweight division.
In the beginning of round 1, both lightweights exchanged punches and kicks to the body and the legs, until Ferguson broke the mould, countering a leg kick and knocking Chandler down with a jab.
Ferguson continued the pressure with Chandler backing up against the cage, but the former Bellator Champion fired back with strikes of his own.
Halfway in, Chandler shot for a double leg, scoring the takedown.
Despite being on the ground, Ferguson managed to gain control of Chandler’s top position, keeping him from throwing shots and managing to push him away.
Chandler, however, instantly regained full guard where he finally managed to throw some punches, busting up “El Cucuy” before the end of round 1.
Just 15 seconds into round 2, the crowd waited anxiously as to who would close the gap first, but no one could anticipate Chandler’s front kick to break “El Cucuy’s” iron chin knocking him face first onto the canvas.
Yet, seeing is believing and at 17 seconds of round 2, Chandler would be the one to stand as the victor here.