For many sporting organizations, 2020 has been a complete disaster due to the coronavirus. The NBA and MLB were forced to postpone a large majority of the season. However, despite COVID-19 causing havoc and canceling 5 UFC events, the promotion has staged a phenomenal year.
The UFC securing Yas Island not only ensured that international fighters could continue to fight throughout the pandemic, but it also raked in millions of dollars of merchandise sales and unlimited hype.
Across the 41 events that have taken place this year, we have seen many astonishing knockouts. So, with that in mind, here are the top 5 UFC Knockouts from our Ben Thomas.
5) Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone, UFC 246, January 18, 2020
The return of the Notorious Conor McGregor at the first major paper view event of the year excited the whole combat sports community as he met future UFC hall of famer, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. After almost a year and a half out of the octagon, many fans thought this would be an unpredictable war.
But they couldn’t have been more wrong. The Irishman won the fight via TKO within 40 seconds of the very first round. He came out swinging from fence to fence while landing some ferocious shots on Cowboy. Both men engaged in a clinch where McGregor landed some vicious shoulder strikes to the dome of Cerrone. This seemingly shattered the nose of the veteran and was ultimately the beginning of the end for the bout.
As Donald backed up against the fence, Mystic Mac threw a beautiful high kick that dropped his opponent. Like a dear in headlines, Donald sat on the canvas in a world of hurt as McGregor rained down a barrage of aggressive ground and pound which resulted in Referee, Herb Dean stopping the fight.
This was a historic KO for the Notorious Conor McGregor as he became the first fighter in UFC history to hold knockout finishes at featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions. This win also earned himself a performance of the night bonus and the number 5 spot on my list. Not a bad night ay?
4) Kevin Holland vs Jacare Souza, UFC 256, December 12, 2020.
Kevin Holland came into this middleweight bout in search of his 5th UFC win of 2020 and he collected it in spectacular fashion by knocking out UFC Veteran Jacare Souza.
As the two competitors met in the middle of the octagon, Souza scored a takedown in the opening seconds of the fight. However, as a result of some brutal elbows from his back, Holland forced himself back to his feet.
The Brazilian born fighter kept his tight grip around the waist of Holland, picked him up and threw him back down to the mat. As Souza started to relax on the ground, both men exchanged in words with Holland saying it was ‘nice’ to be on the receiving end of some accurate ground and pound.
With the mind games in full flow, the Texan-born product began to wriggle free of Souza’s guard, leaned back and delivered a right hook from the gods. This heavy strike was immediately followed by another 4 which shut Souza’s lights out. This brief flurry forced referee Mark Smith to stop the contest at just 1:45 of the very first round.
While catching commentators Joe Rogan, Jon Anik, and Daniel Cormier of the guard with this incredibly unique knockout, Kevin Holland left the octagon with his 5th win of 2020 and climbed up to number 10 in the middleweight rankings.
3) Sean O’Malley vs Eddie Wineland, UFC 250, June 6, 2020.
Sean O’Malley kicked off the UFC 250 main card in sensational style by knocking out UFC Veteran Eddie Wineland.
Sugar Sean came into this bout as a heavy unbeaten favorite and it was clear to see why in the opening exchanges. His opponent failed to get going and against a striker as talented as O’Malley, that is the worst possible outcome.
In the last moments of the fight, O’Malley threw a perfectly executed body kick followed by a right hand that seemingly stung Wineland.
Just 8 seconds later, the Montana native landed a right hand down the barrel of Wineland which sent him flying down to the canvas and instantly shut his lights out. With no follow-up shots needed and one of the coolest walk-offs from O’Malley, Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight at 1:54 of the first round.
2) Cody Garbrandt vs Raphael Assuncao, UFC 250, June 6, 2020
On the same night that Sean O’Malley earned himself a number 3 place on my top 5 list, Cody Garbrandt just had to go one, better didn’t he?
The 3rd ranked Bantamweight contender came into this fight with immense pressure on his shoulders as he was on the back of 3 straight defeats to former champion TJ Dillashaw and Pedro Munhoz. With another loss on his record, many feared that Garbrandt would never be the same.
In the championship-winning run, the Sacramento star-built a reputation of being one of the fastest UFC fighters on the roster, and at UFC 250, he elevated his speed onto another level.
With the former Bantamweight champion fighting at a quicker speed, Munhoz failed to get a grip on the fight and struggled to land any shots on his opponent. As the first round came to a close, it was clear to see that the -145 favorite had opened up a 10-9 lead.
As the two met in the middle and the minutes started to tick away on the clock, the second round looked as if it could’ve been close on the scorecards. However, with a minute left Garbrandt landed a flush knockdown with his haymaker of a right hand. Although his Brazilian opponent claimed it was a slip, Garbrandt saw fear in the eyes of Munhoz and started to close in on the fight-ending combination.
With Garbrandt pressed up against the fence and seconds left on the clock, he ducked down and threw a vicious fight-ending right hook which floored his opponent and led to the second walk-off KO of the night.
As the commentary booth exploded with noise, so did social media. Many claimed that Garbrandts’ knockout was the best of the year and for the sheer swagger behind the walk-off KO, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt slides into the number 2 spot on my top 5 UFC knockouts of 2020.
1) Joaquin Buckley vs Impa Kasaganay, UFC Fight Night, October 11, 2020
Is anyone really surprised that Joaquin Buckley’s vicious knockout of Impa Kasaganay tops my list to become the best UFC knockout of 2020? I mean, you’d have to research for a number of hours to find someone who hasn’t put this in the number one spot.
Buckley handed middleweight prospect Kasaganay his first pro loss and earned himself a ginormous bonus in the process.
The Missouri born fighter came into this middleweight match up as the 200+ underdog and started the fight as if he wanted to prove a point to the MMA community.
As both competitors met in the middle of the octagon, Buckley wasted no time at all in throwing his trademark haymakers and rocked his opponent within the first 20 seconds of the 15-minute bout. Although Kasaganay miraculously recovered from the hard strikes, Buckely secured a beautiful takedown that resulted in a brief exchange on the octagon floor. However, his best work in the opening 5 minutes was on his feet as he found the chin of his opponent with his right hand on numerous occasions.
As the second round began, Buckley kept his foot on the gas pedal and continued to connect with his heavy right hand. While it didn’t look good when Kasanganay caught one of Buckley’s kicks, the 26-year-old improvised on the spot, jumped up, and connected with one of the most devastating spinning back kicks in MMA history.
As the kick caught Kasaganay clean in the face, he stumbled back like a zombie and crashed down onto the octagon mat at a rate of knots. Undoubtedly this forced referee Kevin Sataki to stop the fight at 2:03 of the second round.
With the President of the UFC, Dana White sat at the octagon side, there was no better time for Joaquin Buckley to climb up the middleweight rankings. White-met Buckley backstage and told him:
“So, I always talk about you know, when you’re on a card right. How do you stand out? My phone is blowing up…. Everyone is saying just give him $200,000 tonight, give him every bonus. Nobody has ever seen anything like that. Incredible!”
While earning the knockout of the night bonus and impressing the UFC president, Joaquin Buckley’s mind-blowing knockout of Impa Kasaganay takes not only the top spot of my top knockouts of 2020 but the best of all time.