By Thomas Gerbasi
It may be the single most exciting event in all of sports – the knockout. In baseball you go nine innings, in football and basketball you’ve got four quarters to decide a winner, and hockey requires three 20-minute periods.
In mixed martial arts, a bout scheduled for three or five five-minute rounds can end in seconds if the right punch or kick is landed. That makes every fight a war of nerves, and when the end comes suddenly and spectacularly, there’s simply nothing like it. Read on for the top UFC knockouts of 2009.
10 – Todd Duffee KOs Tim Hague – August 29 - UFC 102
In 2008, James Irvin crashed the Ten Best list with his then-record tying eight second knockout of Houston Alexander. This past August, Todd Duffee did “The Sandman” one second better by blitzing and finishing Tim Hague off in seven ticks of the clock. This spectacular performance was a double whammy, introducing Duffee to UFC fans and the record books with one big straight left to the jaw. Watch video
9 – Shane Carwin TKOs Gabriel Gonzaga - March 7 - UFC 96
With just 10 pro fights, Shane Carwin’s big step up fight was an enormous one as he took on the man who CroCopped Cro Cop, former heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga. And 30 seconds in, Gonzaga welcomed Carwin to the big time with a flush right hand that broke his nose. This would have been the perfect time for Carwin to fold up his tent and go back to his engineering job, but instead, the big man from Colorado roared back with a right hand of his own that put Gonzaga out and earned Carwin his stripes in the heavyweight division. Watch weigh-in video
8 – Nate Marquardt TKOs Wilson Gouveia – February 21 – UFC 95
Nate Marquardt probably could have coasted in the third round of his bout against Wilson Gouveia at UFC 95 and just grabbed a decision win, but in that final stanza it was as if something went off in his head that said (Mortal Kombat style) “FINISH HIM.” What followed was a dizzying array of fists, feet, and knees that took Gouveia out at 3:10 of the round and propelled Marquardt ever closer to a rematch with middleweight boss Anderson Silva. Watch weigh-in video
7 - Mauricio Rua TKOs Chuck Liddell - April 18 - UFC 97
Once considered the most feared man in the world at 205 pounds, former PRIDE star Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua saw his reputation take a direct hit after a loss to Forrest Griffin, two knee surgeries, and a lackluster win over Mark Coleman. So entering his UFC 97 bout with Chuck Liddell, the Brazilian needed not only a win, but a spectacular one. He got it, courtesy of a left hook followed by a series of ground strikes that brought a halt to the bout at the 4:28 mark of the first round. And though most of the post-fight chatter focused on the future of Liddell, don’t forget that the bout could also have been dubbed the ‘Resurrection of Rua’. Watch video
6 - Paulo Thiago KOs Josh Koscheck - February 21 - UFC 95
If you expected Paulo Thiago to pull off the huge upset win over Josh Koscheck earlier this year, congratulations -- you’re one of a select few. If you thought the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt was going to knock Koscheck out with an uppercut in the first round, you’re probably lying. That’s how out of left field this knockout was, especially considering the bombs ‘Kos’ ate and shook off from Thiago Alves four months earlier. But when you add perfect timing to small gloves and some lax defense from Koscheck, one of 2009’s biggest KOs usually results. Watch video
5 – Nate Marquardt KOs Demian Maia – August 29 – UFC 102
Nate Marquardt is without question one of the nicest guys in MMA today. Unfortunately for him, he fought too nice at times, leading to some clear-cut but less-than-scintillating victories. That changed after his loss to Anderson Silva in 2007, and since then, Nate The Great has gotten downright mean in the Octagon. You won’t get any arguments from Jiu-Jitsu ace Demian Maia, who took a crushing right hand from Marquardt in their UFC 102 bout and was finished in just 21 seconds. The fact that Marquardt earned two places on the best KOs list for 2009 speaks volumes. Watch video
4 –Dan Henderson KOs Michael Bisping - July 11 - UFC 100
Yes, Michael Bisping talked a lot leading up to his UFC 100 showdown with Dan Henderson. But the Brit’s mouth had nothing to do with his demise at the hands of Hendo. Instead, once the former two-division PRIDE champion realized that Bisping wasn’t hurting him and that he was pulling straight back AND circling into his power hand, the end was inevitable. Once Henderson’s vaunted right hand crashed into Bisping’s jaw in the second, it was lights out, with the final shot delivered to his downed opponent legal, but ultimately unnecessary. Watch video
3 –Matt Hamill KOs Mark Munoz - March 7 - UFC 96
It’s no secret that when two quality wrestlers lock horns in the Octagon, it’s usually the signal for a standup battle, and that was certainly Matt Hamill’s intention when he took on decorated amateur wrestler Mark Munoz. Hamill’s hands have gotten better with each fight he’s had since his stint on season three of The Ultimate Fighter, but his feet got the job done against Munoz in the very first round -- more specifically, his right foot, which drilled Munoz in the head and sent him down and out for one of the most frightening finishes of the year. Get the wallpaper
2 – Lyoto Machida KOs Rashad Evans - May 23 - UFC 98
“Karate’s back,” said Lyoto Machida seconds after winning the UFC light heavyweight title from Rashad Evans. Do you want to argue with him after another technically flawless performance that was capped off by a final sequence in the second stanza that was certainly – to use the Joe Rogan term – a ballet of violence. In 19 previous pro bouts, no one had ever seen Evans hurt and taken out like this, but Machida, MMA’s most complex puzzle, did it with his usual cool and precision, beginning what may be a long reign at the top. Watch Countdown to UFC 98
1 – Anderson Silva KOs Forrest Griffin – August 8 - UFC 101
If at one point in your life you can say that you witnessed greatness in person, you’re lucky. Those fans in attendance at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on August 8th had that opportunity as middleweight champion Anderson Silva went back to the light heavyweight division and put on a clinic of precision striking in taking out former 205-pound titleholder Forrest Griffin at 3:23 of the first round. Call it over the top, but this performance was a potent mix of a Ted Williams swing, a John Coltrane solo, and a Barry Sanders run out of the backfield. Enjoy Anderson Silva now because there won’t be another like him. Watch video
Honorable Mention – Ben Saunders-Marcus Davis, Andre Winner-Rolando Delgado, Dennis Siver-Nate Mohr, Lyoto Machida-Thiago Silva, Dan Hardy KO1 Rory Markham, Matt Brown TKO1 Pete Sell, Brandon Vera-Michael Patt, Aaron Simpson-Tim McKenzie, Nate Quarry-Jason MacDonald, Drew McFedries-Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Mike Swick-Ben Saunders, Brock Lesnar-Frank Mir, Alan Belcher-Wilson Gouveia, Roy Nelson- Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione-Marcus Jones, John Howard-Dennis Hallman, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira-Luiz Cane, Dennis Siver-Paul Kelly, Alexander Gustafsson-Jared Hamman, Pat Barry-Antoni Hardonk, Paul Daley-Martin Kampmann, Thiago Silva-Keith Jardine.