Midway Report: 2016’s Best MMA Knockouts

By Andreas Hale Jun 11, 2016

We are roughly halfway through 2016, and the MMA world has delivered some interesting fights. Although the sport has been dominated by recent talk of a ludicrous Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather Jr. showdown, the vicious knockouts that have taken place over the first six months of the year should not get lost in the conversation. With that said, here is a rundown of the best MMA knockouts of midway 2016, in no particular order:

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Stipe Miocic def. Fabricio Werdum
UFC 198 “Werdum vs. Miocic”
May 14 | Curitiba, Brazil

Werdum was on the verge of cementing himself as one of the greatest heavyweights -- if not the greatest -- in MMA history, considering the torment through which he had put the division since returning to the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2012. All he needed to do to further the conversation was successfully defend his heavyweight title against Miocic at UFC 198 in his own backyard. Werdum was so excited by the setting that he decided to run after Miocic with his hands down and chin up in one of the more bizarre moments we have witnessed in a heavyweight title fight. He paid with his consciousness, as a right hand from Miocic short-circuited Werdum and sent him crashing to the canvas in the perfect bedtime position 2:47 into the first round.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Patricky Freire def. Ryan Couture
Bellator 148
Jan. 29 | Fresno, California

Sometimes it’s not the punch as much as how the individual getting punched reacts to it. In the first round of their lightweight battle, Freire lit up Couture with a left hand that at first glance did not appear to be all that damaging. However, Couture was rolling in with a leg kick and sought to throw a punch, so his momentum took him directly into the path of a counter left from “Pitbull.” As a result, Couture was left to flounder on the canvas in what appeared to be an uncomfortable slumber.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Sheldon Reid def. Julio Calcina
Shinobi War 7
April 30 | Liverpool, England

Reid delivered the ultimate payback for a low blow with one of the most brutal front kick knockouts you will ever see. Calcina was enjoying some success, until he drilled Reid below the belt with a knee. Reid needed a minute to shake off the pain, gathered himself and immediately slammed his foot into Calcina’s face. Unlike Vitor Belfort when he was on the receiving end of Anderson Silva’s knockout at UFC 126, Calcina did not crumple to the mat. Instead, he froze for a moment as his spirit floated from his body and then slowly fell face first to the canvas in the opening round of their amateur bout.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Yair Rodriguez def. Andre Fili
UFC 197 “Jones vs. St. Preux”
April 23 | Las Vegas

Sometimes, fighting fire with fire turns out to be a terrible idea. Nevertheless, Fili was determined to take such an approach against Rodriguez, “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” winner, and it resulted in his being on the wrong end of a highlight-reel knockout. Rodriguez seemed intent on showing off new wrinkles in his game by scoring takedowns and controlling the action from the top. However, in the second round, Rodriguez launched a flying switch kick that caught Fili flush, his left shin meeting the Team Alpha Male standout’s jaw. It was the kind of knockout that figures to make the rounds on UFC highlight reels for many years to come.

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Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Diego Rivas def. Noad Lahat
UFC Fight Night “Hendricks vs. Thompson”
Feb. 6 | Las Vegas

Flying knee finishes rank among the most brutal to witness. When knee meets face unabated, oftentimes there is nowhere to go but down. Lahat became just such a victim in the second round of his featherweight battle with Rivas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Twenty seconds into round two, Rivas left his feet as Lahad dropped for a takedown. His knee connected and set off a disgusting crack, leaving Lahat unconscious for several tense moments.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Tom Duquesnoy def. Shay Walsh
British Association of Mixed Martial Arts 25
May 14 | Birmingham, England

BAMMA featherweight champion Duquesnoy was looking to add the promotion’s 135-pound title to his collection when he faced off with Walsh at Barclaycard Arena. It did not take long for a little inside fighting to break out between the divisional kingpins. Then, out of the blue, Duquesnoy leveled Walsh with a filthy short right elbow to the head. The strike caused Walsh to fall awkwardly to the canvas, belly down and head up as if trying to figure out what exactly happened to him. Duquesnoy knew he was done and did not even bother with follow-up blows.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Demetrious Johnson def. Henry Cejudo
UFC 197 “Jones vs. St. Preux”
April 23 | Las Vegas

Johnson has fielded far too much criticism for failing to finish some of his fights, and the flyweight champion took out his frustration on an Olympic gold medalist at UFC 197. During a seemingly competitive first round, “Mighty Mouse” reeled Cejudo into the clinch and proceeded to wreck him with knees. He delivered a pair of knee strikes to the challenger’s body and then followed with a left knee to the face that stunned Cejudo. Johnson smelled blood in the water, chased down his opponent with a straight left hand and finished the job with another knee to the body that sank Cejudo for good.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Ed Herman def. Tim Boetsch
UFC Fight Night “Dillashaw vs. Cruz”
Jan. 17 | Boston

The fight between journeymen Herman and Boetsch came to a sudden second-round conclusion that no one saw coming. They engaged in a competitive striking display in the first round, and Boetsch undoubtedly thought things were going well heading to the second. He was wrong. Herman trapped “The Barbarian” in the clinch, a position in which Boetsch has excelled in the past. However, his close-quarters sweet spot turned sour when Herman created an opening and sent a fight-ending knee crashing into Boetsch’s face. It was as swift as it was brutal.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Cristiane Justino def. Daria Ibragimova
Invicta Fighting Championships 15
Jan. 16 | Costa Mesa, California

Knockouts like this one make “Cyborg” the most feared woman in mixed martial arts. Another lamb was led to the slaughter at Invicta 15, where Ibragimova was not equipped to withstand Justino’s savage power and unbridled ferocity. It was akin to fighting a wood chipper. Whenever Ibragimova drew near, she was assaulted with various punches, knees and kicks. After being battered for almost five full minutes, she finally wilted when a “Cyborg” right hand put her down for good. Unfortunately for Ibragimova, referee John McCarthy could not react quickly enough to prevent her from absorbing some punishing follow-up punches.

Midway Report: 2016's Best MMA Knockouts
Mark Hunt def. Frank Mir
UFC Fight Night “Hunt vs. Mir”
March 19 | Brisbane, Australia

Hunt has become known and revered for delivering MMA’s equivalent to the walk-off home run, and he built on that reputation at Mir’s expense. The former UFC heavyweight champion held his own with Hunt for a few minutes, but against “The Super Samoan,” all it takes is a momentarily lapse in judgment to end one’s night. Mir tried to duck away from the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner, only to have a right hand crash into the side of his skill. The dazed and defenseless Las Vegas native flopped to his back, leaving Hunt to walk away with his arms raised one more time.
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