From top to bottom, this might have been the greatest year in the history of mankind for mixed martial artists going night night. Jose Cesar Neves did some Ninja Turtle shit:
Rolles Gracie fell:
Hang on, there’s more. Antonio Silva folded up the heavyweight legitimacy of Alistair Overeem. Vitor Belfort murdered three people. Jeremy Stephens was Jeremy Stephens, sometimes. Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann put on a slobberknocker so damaging to both fighters that Stann decided to retire and spend some time behind the analysts desk. Wanderlei? He made a couple of really dumb videos and thought it would be hilarious to pretend that he took a fight on Twitter. April Fools!
None of these KO’s even made my top 6 (except for maybe one).
2013 Knockout Of The Year
Vinny Magalhaes definitely doesn’t have a great chin. This is true. But the sight of a big brawny scary looking Brazilian getting absolutely flattened by a 41 year old awkward Australian guy who looks like a Bible salesman? That was just special. The fact that it was over in 14 ticks made it even more surreal. YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE HIPPO!
Tyron Woodley def. Josh Koscheck via KO (punch) @ UFC 167 (4:38, rd. 1)
Josh Koscheck is in the twilight of his career, that surreal stretch when he starts getting knocked out repeatedly and you inexplicably start rooting for him even though he’s never been anything but a petulant asshole.
This knockout was full of rippling muscles and guys swinging as hard as they could, in what was one of 2013′s craziest, most exciting rounds.
Josh’s chin is a ticking time bomb at this point, though I’m not sure how many welterweights could have kept fighting after that Woodley right hand. It landed so perfectly that it reminded me of a guy swinging on a stationary combo dummy and just leveling it to the point that it sways to a 90 degree angle. Vicious, vicious stuff, and great to see from Woodley, who isn’t always the most active fighter.
Dong Hyun Kim def. Erick Silva via KO (punch) @ UFC Fight Night 29 (3:01, rd. 2)
More than anything else, this was shocking. You don’t expect this kind of thing out of Dong Hyun Kim. And nobody would agree with me more than Kim, who had this to say about the knockout:
“Erick Silva was very strong. He started very aggressive, and it was a war. I needed to fight against him, or I was going to lose. So I was trying to make Erick lose his strength. But I think it was luck that I finished the fight by knockout.”
Gotta love a realistic, honest assessment from a fighter. It’s incredibly rare. Kim has been one of my favorites for a long time.
Emmanuel Newton def. Muhammad Lawal via KO (spinning back fist) @ Bellator 90 (2:35, rd. 1)
These selections obviously aren’t ranked, but if they were, this would be the second best knockout of 2013 in my book. It was definitely the one that left me cackling in delight the hardest. I mean, it was was cinematic, poetic, lethal … but mostly, it was hilarious.
It was fucking HILARIOUS.
I’m not a vindictive person. I’m not going to sit here and claim that I’ve never taken pleasure in the failure of another human being, but I at least feel some modicum of guilt about it when I do. But King Mo just gets me, right to my vindictive core. Does he not realize that his boxing, while solid, isn’t one fifth as solid as he seems to think it is? Does he not realize that he should be taking everyone under the sun to the mat and beating them up? Has he ever failed in a fight when this was his sole gameplan? In short, he just doesn’t get it, as was proven by his quotes after this emasculation. He basically said that Newton knocked him out with a “feminine” strike. That was his entire retort.
The way he fell … I mean … yeah. Just, the way he fell.
Vitor Belfort def. Luke Rockhold via KO (spinning heel kick) @ UFC on FX 8 (2:32, rd. 1)
My feelings on Vitor, to understate them, are conflicted. He’s a guy who has legitimately had like 5 phases to his career, and logic would suggest that the one he’s currently entrenched in would be one of first ones, even though it appears to be one of the last.
(Based on the way Vitor has looked recently, this might be a pessimistic view. The current incarnation of the Phenom could probably fight well into his 60′s.)
He was the “Choirboy Faced Teen Who KO’d Fat Guys And Guys Wearing Sweatpants”. Then, he shifted to “Wrestler Vitor”, who was 4-0 and had exactly zero compelling moments. “He’s Still Vitor, But You Can Make This Guy Check Out Mentally” came next. After that, it was “Hey, He’s Knocking Guys Out Again, But They Aren’t That Good, Except For Rich Franklin”. And here he is now, in his “Kick The Shit Out Of You Into His Mid-30′s Under Wildly Strange Circumstances” incarnation. Yikes. Luke Rockhold is an excellent fighter, but you’d never know it by the way yoked up, T’d up Vitor spun around and kicked his head into the stands. This one is close. But I think you and I both know what takes the cake for 2013 knockouts.
Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva via KO (punches) @ UFC 162 (1:18, rd. 2)
In order for this to be surpassed, we’d have to see something surreal to the point that it would be the first hot button issue in any MMA conversation over the next ten years. Like “Dude, can you believe Tito Ortiz had just taken two 10-8 rounds off of Quinton Jackson, kickboxing him around the cage like Ramon Dekkers, and then a medicated Jenna Jameson hopped over the cage wall at the start of the third and intentionally blew out both of Tito’s ACL’s and fractured his skull with a tire iron as a terrified Rampage jumped into the arms of Wanderlei Silva?” Something at that level. We didn’t get it.
What we did get was a guy pretending to be hurt, then pretending to be knocked completely unconscious … except he made the mistake of accidentally really being unconscious. Uppsy daisy!
Lost amidst all the crazy conspiracy theories and Anderson apologists that came out of the woodwork after this fight was just how composed and precise a knockout it was. It was brilliant the way Weidman flicker jabbed Anderson before the KO punch, moving his head right into position. Most guys see Anderson start clowning and start nervously staring at him like he’s the crazy guy at the bar. Not Chris. Chris stepped up and humbled one of the greatest we’ve ever seen.
Your move, 2014.
Stay tuned for my “2013 Fight Of The Year” piece after Christmas. Happy Holidays!