Mixed martial arts allows fighters to use their fists, elbows, shoulders, legs, and knees as weapons, often leading to spectacular knockouts. Knockouts are the striker’s version of submissions. They can stop a fight at any moment and make it crystal clear who the better fighter on that day was.
This article will explore the top nineteenth one-strike knockouts in MMA history. Since it’s MMA, we won’t restrict ourselves to only punches.
The 19 Most Impressive One-Strike Finishes In Mixed Martial Arts History
Without further ado, let’s jump right into our list of fantastic one-strike finishes:
1) Jorge Masvidal Vs. Ben Askren
Masvidal came within seconds of breaking the record for the fastest finish in the Ultimate Fighting Championship when he squared off against Ben Askren at UFC 239. Askren was coming off his debut win against Robbie Lawler, while Masvidal had recently knocked out Darren Till.
Askren was the favorite heading into the encounter, given Masvidal’s past struggles with high-level grapplers. Many harsh words were exchanged between the two, increasing the build-up for their fight.
Masvidal had a mischievous smile the entire time, as if he knew something no one else did. We found out what he had planned as the opening bell rang to signify the start of their round. Masvidal took a sidestep and sprinted right toward Askren before throwing a flying knee. Askren’s instincts as a wrestler got him in serious trouble as he reactively ducked down to take Masvidal down. That put his head right in front of Masvidal’s knee, knocking him out cold.
Masvidal followed up with some unnecessary shots he deemed “super necessary” after the fight, which ironically prevented him from setting a new record. The official time for the fight would have been when Askren hit the canvas after getting knocked out, but the follow-up shots kept the clock running.
2) Aung La N Sang Vs. Ken Hasegawa
This bout remains one of the most entertaining title clashes in ONE Championship history. The finish also earned Sang Knockout of the Year honors. It came late in the fight after both men were already exhausted from their grueling battle. Hasegawa was already cooked at that point as he stumbled around the cage, trying to put pressure on Sang.
Sang used his feet to evade Hasegawa’s pressure; then he uncorked a clean uppercut with his right hand that landed flush, sending Hasegawa to the canvas and forcing the stoppage.
3) Conor McGregor Vs. Jose Aldo
McGregor did a phenomenal job promoting his fight against Aldo, keeping fans entertained with his witty remarks and antagonistic attitude toward Aldo. The original date set for the fight had to be canceled due to Aldo getting injured while training, which only gave Conor more time to continue his verbal attacks on him.
You could see Aldo start to break away from his usual character as the fight drew closer. That became more apparent as Aldo charged at McGregor during their fight’s opening seconds. Conor fired off a perfectly placed left hook as Aldo came within range, bringing their highly anticipated fight to an early, abrupt end.
4) Anderson Silva Vs. Vitor Belfort
Silva was coming off his come-from-behind submission victory against Chael Sonnen when he collided with Belfort at UFC 126. Belfort had made some remarks criticizing Silva’s reign, leading to tension during the pre-fight conference.
The first few minutes of the fight were spent feeling each other out; then Silva landed a perfectly placed front kick that sent Belfort to the canvas, bringing the contest to an end.
5) Alexis Vila Vs. Joe Warren
Warren was known for his unrelenting trash talk during the early part of his Bellator run, leading to many fans hoping to see him get his due. Vila gave fans their wish when he planted his left hand on Warren’s chin a minute into their fight, instantly knocking him out cold as he fell to the canvas.
6) Joshua Pacio Vs. Roy Doliguez
Doliguez pushed the pace for most of his fight against Pacio, but that ended up being what left him open to a spinning back fist that sent him to the canvas during the second round of their title showdown. The setup was just as impressive as Pacio feinted a kick, then waved him in to get him in range for the back fist.
7) Alistair Overeem Vs. Francis Ngannou
Overeem was the fighter placed in Ngannou’s path to determine if he was good enough to compete for the heavyweight title. Francis passed the test with flying colors, delivering one of the most brutal one-strike finishes in MMA history. The finish earned Ngannou Knockout of the Year honors in 2017, and it earned him a shot at Stipe Miocic and the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight title. Francis lost to Stipe at UFC 220 primarily due to his inability to stop Stipe’s takedowns but came back to claim the title at UFC 260.
8) Joaquin Buckley Vs. Impa Kasanganay
This finish is undoubtedly one of the most impressive in MMA history, and fans will be talking about it for decades to come. The fight between the two started pretty competitively, with the two powerhouses going toe-to-toe.
Kasanganay ended up catching one of Buckley’s legs, but he never got a chance to do anything with it because Buckley used the opportunity to execute the most beautiful jumping-spinning sidekick in mixed martial arts history. It looked more like a move you would see in one of Tony Jaa’s movies, not something you’d see in competitive martial arts. The finish made Buckley one of the most popular up-and-comers in the UFC.
9) Leon Edwards Vs. Kamaru Usman II
The first fight between these two occurred when both men were still prospects in the UFC’s welterweight division. Usman used his wrestling to control the action, earning him a unanimous decision.
Usman was the defending welterweight champion when these two met for a second time at UFC 278. Usman looked like he was on his way to another successful title defense when Edwards caught him with a roundhouse kick to the head that left him unconscious with a minute left in the fight. It was one of the most memorable one-shot finishes in MMA history and one of the greatest comeback stories.
10) Anderson Silva Vs. Forrest Griffin
During his reign, Griffin was one of the opponents Silva faced when he moved up to the light-heavyweight division. At that point, Griffin was a former champion, so many expected an exciting competitive matchup.
The fight turned out to be as exciting as many had hoped, but it was far from competitive. Silva landed shots at will, while Griffin struggled to land anything meaningful as Silva weaved and ducked past his attacks.
Frustrated, Griffin wildly charged at Silva, who masterfully evaded his strikes with head movement before sending him to the canvas with a single jab, bringing their match to an end. That was arguably the most impressive finish in Anderson Silva’s legendary career.
11) Chris Weidman Vs. Anderson Silva
All good things must come to an end, and that certainly was the case for Silva’s historic run when he faced Weidman at UFC 162. The first round of the fight was all Weidman as he used his wrestling to smother the champion.
Anderson did a better job of keeping the fight standing in the second round, and he seemed to be taking over the fight until Weidman landed a hook as he weaved and ducked as usual. The knockout brought an end to Silva’s historic championship reign.
12) Kamaru Usman Vs. Jorge Masvidal II
Usman used his wrestling to dominate the first encounter between these two inside the cage, but Masvidal took the fight on short notice, leaving some fans wondering how things would have gone if he had a full training camp to prepare.
Usman granted Masvidal a second opportunity at the title, UFC 261. He softened Masvidal with his wrestling during the first round and finished him with a huge right hand in the second round. That made him the first person to finish Masvidal with strikes.
13) Brandon Vera Vs. Mauro Cerilli
Vera defended the ONE Heavyweight World Title when he squared off against Cerilli at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS. Cerilli came out aggressively, trying to smother Vera with his pressure. However, Vera skillfully countered with a check left hook, and that was all it took to bring the contest to an end.
14) Holly Holm Vs. Ronda Rousey
Rousey was the most dominant fighter in all of mixed martial arts when she collided with Holm at UFC 193. Rousey was known for taking opponents down and finishing them with armbars, and many doubted Holm’s ability to stop Rousey’s takedowns and throws.
Holm took control of the fight from the opening bell, using her footwork to stay out of takedown range. When Rousey managed to get close, Holm shrugged her takedowns off. Frustrated, Rousey got increasingly careless with her striking, eventually running into a roundhouse kick that ended the contest.
15) Alain Ngalani Vs. Hideki Sekine
Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Ngalani’s one-punch knockout against Sekine at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY. Sekine tried to push the pace during the opening seconds by running carelessly at Ngalani, which left him open to a right hook as the latter backed away. The finish came just ten seconds into the contest, setting the record for the fastest knockout in ONE Championship history.
16) Shonie Carter Vs. Matt Serra I
The first fight between the two turned ended up with one of the most memorable finishes in MMA history. Serra was undefeated at the time, and he dominated the first two rounds with his grappling. He was on his way to winning a decision with ten seconds left in the fight when Carter caught him with a spinning back fist that knocked him out cold.
17) Scott Smith Vs. Pete Sell
This memorable knockout comes from the finale of the fourth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series. Both men had sprawl-and-brawl fighting styles and serious knockout power in their hands. The fight was competitive for the most part, and Sell looked like he had Smith hurt in the second round, but the latter had a trick up his sleeve.
Smith fired a hard right hand as Sell closed the distance to finish him off, bringing the fight to an abrupt end.
18) Mauricio Shogun Rua Vs. Lyoto Machida II
The first fight between these two was closely contested, with Machida edging out a decision to keep his undefeated record intact. The fight was close enough to earn Rua an immediate rematch, and he made the most out of his second opportunity. He switched things up the second time around and used a boxing-heavy approach that eventually paid off when he caught Machida with an overhand right and finished him off with some academic punches.
19) Dan Henderson Vs. Michael Bisping
There was lots of bad blood between these two heading into their UFC 100 encounter. On paper, you could say the matchup looked like a classic striker vs. grappler matchup, with Bisping being the more accomplished striker and Henderson being the more decorated striker.
That’s not how things played out, though. After a competitive first round, Henderson caught Bisping with his trademark “Hendo-Bomb,” knocking Bisping out cold. He followed up with some unnecessary ground strikes that many of Bisping’s critics enjoyed.
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