The 2016 UFC calendar year delivered 40 entertaining, action-packed fight cards, and with the 12 months of scraps now in our rear view, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on my top 10 knockouts of the year. These are all my opinion, so feel free to voice your own in the comments below. 10) Michael Johnson’s fantastic first round knockout of Dustin Poirier (UFC Fight Night 94, Sept. 17) Johnson felt he had his back against the wall heading into this bout, coming off a unanimous decision loss to Nate Diaz and taking on Poirier, who was riding hot on a four fight winning streak with three T/KO finishes. He made the most of the main event opportunity in Hidalgo, TX by knocking “The DIamond” out with an impressive counter during an exchange, scoring a highlight reel finish inside the first round and setting himself up for a title eliminator against Khabib Nurmagomedov, which took place at UFC 205 in New York City nearly two months later. 9) Tyron Woodley’s beastly one-punch knockout of Robbie Lawler (UFC 201, 21, Aug. 27) “T-Wood” did not need much time, as the first shot he landed in the opening stanza put Lawler out cold. Adding another highlight to his reel, Woodley became the new UFC Welterewight Champion. 8) Conor McGregor’s sick combo TKO of Eddie Alvarez (UFC 205, Nov. 12) McGregor dominated the veteran Alvarez in this contest, dropping and hurting him in the first round, and then finishing him in the second with an incredible combination in which he landed every punch with accuracy. The Irishman’s precise execution of Alvarez earned him the UFC Lightweight title and made him a two-weight champ. 7) Lorenz Larkin’s brutal elbow TKO of Neil Magny (UFC 202, Aug. 20) Larkin came into this bout as the underdog and dominated Magny with his superior striking. He badly hurt Magny with a serious of vicious kicks for the first four minutes, then finished him with brutal Travis Brown-esque elbows against the cage. The first round TKO stoppage snapped Magny’s three fight wining streak and put Larkin at two in a row. It was the last fight on his UFC contract and he is currently a free agent seeking a new offer. Personally, I think the UFC brass would be out of their minds to not sign him, especially after his performance. It is also worth noting that the 30-year-old welterweight was the last Strikeforce middleweight champion. 6) Jake Ellenberger’s stunning body-kick TKO of Matt Brown (UFC 201, July 30) This fight was all Ellenberger. He dropped and hurt Brown in the opening exchange at the start of the first round, but Brown, in classic Matt Brown fashion, recovered and continued on with the fight. Things did not last long, however, as Ellenberger connected with a liver kick that completely shut Brown down. A few punches later and the referee stopped the action, giving Ellenberger the first round TKO victory. This was one of Ellenberger’s best performance and he definitely saved his job with this one, as he was coming off a two fight skid and was 1-5 for his last six. 5) Paige VanZant’s sweet switch-kick knockout of Bec Rawlings (UFC on FOX 21, Aug. 27) After being outstruck and losing the first round, VanZant came back strong in the second and landed a switch-kick that put Rawlings out of commision. It was a beautiful, highlight reel finish by VanZant, who returned to the win column with this victory and earned herself a main event bout against Michelle Waterson, which took place a few months later. 4) Nikita Kryolov’s phenomenal walk-off head-kick knockout of Ed Herman (UFC 201, July 30) Krylov landed a picture perfect head-kick on Herman during an exchange that immediately separated “Short Fuse” from consciousness and faceplanted him right onto the mat. It was a beautifully brutal finish by Krylov, who recorded his fifth straight finish with the victory; all five of them having come by way of finish. Like any Krylov fight, this was quite an entertaining one, and it ended with one of the best knockouts of the year. 3) Ryan Bader’s shocking flying knee knockout of Ilir Latifi (UFC Fight Night 93, Sept. 3) This was a thing of beauty. I thought Bader would finish this fight on the judges’ scorecards and did not like his chance of earning a finish here against a tough opponent like Latifi, but he surprised, and in very impressive fashion. Bader outstruck Latifi in the first round and then finished him with an incredible flying knee in the second. The victory put him back in the win column after having his five fight winning streak snapped by Anthony Johnson earlier in the year. 2) Yair Rodriguez’s incredible switch-kick knockout of Andre Fili (UFC 197, April 23) This is to date the most impressive performance of Rodriguez’s career, and he will attempt to top it against former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn this weekend at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix. Rodriguez got the better of Fili in the first round and the put him out cold with a switch-kick in the second. The Jackson-Wink MMA fighter remains undefeated inside the Octagon and looks to have a big 2017. 1) Lando Vannata’s tremendous spinning hook kick knockout of John Makdessi(UFC 206, Dec. 10) How could this not be number one? It was magic. It was memorable. It was…um, groovy. Vannata scored his first UFC victory with a phenomenal knockout of Lebanese-Canadian John Makdessi in what was an excellent striker versus striker match-up. The sky is the limit for Vannata in the UFC and fight fans are certainly anticipating his next outing inside the Octagon, which is scheduled for UFC 209 in March against David Teymur, who enjoys a two-fight winning streak with both victories coming by way of T/KO.
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