There’s no shortage of entertaining knockout finishes in mixed martial arts. Fighters are allowed to use kicks, punches, elbows, and knees to finish opponents, leading to some of the most impressive knockouts in combat sports. Knockouts have even been scored by slamming opponents on their heads as was the case for Jessica Andrade when she brutally slammed Rose Namajunas to win their title showdown.
Mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport in the world right now, and many believe it’s only a matter of time before it surpasses boxing as the most popular combat sport worldwide.
The 16 Best Knockout Artists In Mixed Martial Arts History
Ready to find out who the best knockout artists in the history of mixed martial arts are? Let’s jump right into our list (in no particular order).
1) Wanderlei Silva
They don’t call him “The Axe Murderer” for nothing; Wanderlei Silva is arguably the most brutal finisher to ever compete in mixed martial arts. He finished his career with a 35-14-1 record when he retired in 2018, with 27 of his victories coming via knockout.
Wanderlei did his best work during his Pride days, smashing half of the big names in MMA, at the time, like Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, and Guy Mezger. Opponents were lucky to last until the second round with him, and his ability to finish fights never left him even during the latter part of his career when he faced a host of challenges.
2) Anderson Silva
He wouldn’t be the legit GOAT if his name wasn’t on this list. Anderson Silva’s knockouts were equally brutal and beautiful during his prime. More of an artist than a fighter, Silva would gracefully dance around his opponents as he seemingly picked them apart with his strikes.
His knockouts were rarely ever the result of spamming strikes and hoping something landed. No, Silva masterfully set up his finishing strikes, leading to some of the most memorable moments in MMA history. For example, he finished Forrest Griffin with a single jab to the face. Forrest was swinging and praying as he closed the distance on Silva while the latter effortlessly slipped and ducked his attacks. Silva then fired a single jab that ended the fight and never even followed up because he knew that was it.
Silva walked away from mixed martial arts with 23 knockouts under his belt, making him one of the most prolific knockout artists in the sport’s history.
3) Chuck Liddell
The Iceman doesn’t get enough credit for being the first striker to prove there’s more to fighting that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling. Grapplers dominated the early days of mixed martial arts with BJJ dominating the first few years before wrestlers started figuring out how to defend against their submissions.
For a moment in MMA history, it looked like the sport would forever be dominated by grapplers. Then came Chuck Liddell, a black belt in Kajukenbo and Karate, with a collegiate wrestling background. All of a sudden, a new style of fighting was born: sprawl and brawl.
Liddell was virtually impossible to take down during his prime, forcing his opponents to stand and bang with him. At the peak of his career, Liddell sported a 20-3 record, with 13 of his wins coming via knockout. Unfortunately for Liddell, he ended up losing six of his last seven fights, just when a new group of fans started getting into mixed martial arts.
4) Melvin Manhoef
Manhoef is one of the least-known fighters on our list, but statistically speaking, he’s the most prolific knockout artist in MMA history with 29 of his 32 professional victories coming via knockout. His inability to win a title with any of the major promotions relegates his popularity to hardcore fans, but there’s no question Manhoef is one of the scariest finishers to step inside a cage. In his prime, most of his opponents never even got past the first round.
5) Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović
“Right leg hospital, left leg cemetery.” This pretty much sums off the prime of Cro Cop’s career. A successful amateur boxer and professional kickboxer who transitioned to mixed martial arts, Cro Cop was arguably the most feared striker during the Pride era.
He defeated pretty much every big name in Pride except the legendary Fedor Emelianenko and went on to enjoy success in other top organizations. Despite some struggles during the mid-part of his career, Cro Cop managed to retire on his terms, winning his last ten fights. He retired with a 38-11-2 professional MMA record, with 30 of his wins coming via knockout.
6) Mark Hunt
There’s no question about it, Mark Hunt is the king of walk-off knockouts and certainly one of the best knockout artists in the history of the sport, despite having less than 30 MMA fights under his belt. Mark transitioned to mixed martial arts after a successful kickboxing career and it was immediately clear his striking was far better than the average MMA fighter.
Unfortunately for Hunt, his grappling skills weren’t as equally impressive, preventing him from putting together more than a handful of wins at any point in his career. Unlike most fighters on our list who have a mix of TKOs and clean KOs, most of Hunt’s knockout victims were left unconscious inside the cage.
7) Amir Khan
ONE Superstar Amir Khan from the Evolve Fight Team is known for a leaving opponents unconscious inside the cage. At only 28, eight of his fourteen professional MMA victories are via knockout. A Muay Thai fighter who later transitioned to mixed martial arts, Khan has become increasingly well-rounded, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling with the famed Evolve Fight Team.
8) Maurício Rua
Better known as “Shogun” to his fans, Rua was arguably the second most impressive fighter during the Pride era, right next to Emelianenko. He scored wins against every big name in his weight class like Quinton Jackson, Alistair Overeem, Antônio Rogério Nogueira, and Kevin Randleman.
Shogun also had the honor of handing Lyoto Machida his first loss when he knocked him out at UFC 113 to win the promotion’s light-heavyweight title. That puts him in a unique class of fighters to win belts with multiple major promotions.
Rua finished his MMA career with a 27-14-1 record. 21 of his wins came via knockout and the names of his victims are just as impressive.
9) Dan Henderson
Henderson doesn’t have as many knockouts as many of the fighters on our list, but in his prime, his “H-bomb” was one of the most feared punches in MMA. Most opponents who got hit with his overhand right were knocked out unconscious.
Some of the notable names Henderson has knocked out include Renzo Gracie, Ryo Chonan, Wanderlei Silva, Michael Bisping, and Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor was the only one who didn’t lose consciousness after getting hit with an H-bomb. Henderson retired with a 32-15 record, with half of his wins coming via knockout. Not bad for a guy who transitioned to MMA as a wrestler.
Fedor is arguably the most impressive fighter who emerged during the Pride era, defeating every single opponent he faced inside the ring. Fedor is one of the most dangerous strikers in the history of the sport, and he could have scored a lot more knockouts than he has on his record if that was one of his goals.
A well-rounded Sambo fighter who could just as easily submit opponents as he could knock them out, Emelianenko finished his mixed martial arts career with a 40-7 record. 16 of his victories came via knockouts against names like Andrei Arlovski, Gary Goodridge, and Quinton Jackson.
11) Christian Lee
ONE Lightweight and Welterweight World Champion Christian ‘The Warrior’ Lee was only 17 when he signed with ONE Championship along with six Pankration and grappling world title gold medals under his belt. He’s been on a tear ever since, winning 11 of his 14 first fights with the promotion and defeating MMA legend Shina Aoki to win the promotion’s featherweight title. Lee went on to win ONE Championship’s welterweight title six fights later, making him a member of the elite group of fighters who have held multiple titles simultaneously with major mixed martial arts promotions.
Lee currently sports a 17-4 MMA record with 12 of his victories inside the cage coming via knockout. He’s been on a rather vicious run lately, knocking out four of his last five opponents.
12) John Lineker
Former ONE Championship Bantamweight World Champion Lineker has built a reputation as one of the most heavy-handed fighters in mixed martial arts. Appropriately nicked named “Hands of Stone,” one clean left hand from Lineker is often all it takes to bring contests to an end. That’s all he needed to defeat Bibiano Fernandes to win the ONE Bantamweight Championship.
Lineker made a name for himself fighting under the UFC’s banner, establishing himself as one of the top contenders in the bantamweight division. He eventually signed with ONE Championship where he’s been equally as impressive.
Lineker holds victories against many big names in the sport like Rob Font, John Dodson, and Marlon Vera.
13) Jose Aldo
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Aldo the best knockout artist in the history of the featherweight division. He was certainly a knockout artist during the early days of his career, knocking out seven of his first eight opponents.
His knockout percentage has gone down since then as he spent most of his career competing against the very best at the championship level. One of the most decorated fighters in the history of MMA, Aldo retired with a 31-8 record, with 17 of his wins coming via knockout.
14) Conor McGregor
McGregor’s insane knockout power has a lot to do with him being the most popular mixed martial arts fighter ever. A southpaw fighter who enjoys using unorthodox techniques, Conor’s ability to finish opponents with his left hand catapulted him into superstardom.
He only needed a minute to knockout Marcus Brimage during his UFC debut, and he went on to knock out five of his next six opponents inside the cage. His last victim was Jose Aldo who he ended up knocking out in 13 seconds to win the promotion’s featherweight title.
McGregor then went on to challenge Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title and won that fight by knockout as well. The win against Alvarez, which made him the first double champion in MMA history, created enough hype to get him a super-fight against Floyd Mayweather.
Unfortunately for McGregor, he lost three of his next four fights after his super-fight with Mayweather, leaving him unsure of where he stands in the lightweight division. Still, McGregor is one of the most prolific knockout artists in MMA history with 19 of his 22 wins coming via knockout.
15) Anatoly Malykhin
ONE Championship interim heavyweight champion and light-heavyweight champion Anatoly Malykhin might only have 12 fights under his belt, but the fact eight of his wins came via knockout puts him on our list.
Originally a wrestler, Malykhin transitioned to mixed martial arts due to a lack of opportunities for wrestlers in his native Russia, and he’s been training Muay Thai ever since. His well-rounded skills make him a threat to anyone inside the cage.
16) Cris Cyborg
Cris Cyborg is the most ferocious female fighter on our list and, without a doubt, the best female knockout artist in the history of mixed martial arts. She retired the first face of women’s MMA, Gina Carano, scoring a TKO during the second round of their Strikeforce showdown. That fight turned out to be a turning point for women’s MMA as it ended up being one of the top-selling events Strikeforce ever promoted.
Cyborg signed with the UFC after Strikeforce was bought out by Zuffa, but fans never got to see her face Ronda Rousey due to disputes with the promotion and what some fans consider to be the UFC’s attempts to protect the more marketable Rousey.
Cyborg did eventually get a super-fight of sorts against Amanda Nunes, but she ended up getting knocked out in the first round. She’s won six consecutive fights since then, bringing her record to 26-2, with 20 wins coming via knockout.
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