The 2015 UFC calendar year delivered 44 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 favorites of the year. These are all my opinion, so feel free to voice your own in the comments below. Here are my top 10 knockouts which occured inside the UFC’s Octagon in 2015: 10) Leonardo Santos’ massive upset TKO of Kevin Lee (UFC 194, Dec. 12) The Brazilian was the biggest underdog on the UFC 194 fight card from top to bottom, but looked to be the favorite from the opening bell. He got the better of Lee on the feet and ultimately knocked him out at the 3:26 mark of the very first round. It was a humbling moment for Lee, who had been preaching that he was going to easily dominate Santos. 9) Gian Villante’s head-kick knockout of undefeated Corey Anderson (UFC on FOX 15, April 18) The Long Islander looked great against Corey Anderson for two rounds, though he was down on the judges’ scorecards heading into the third and final round. He landed a head-kick at the start of the frame that put Anderson out of consciousness. It was an incredible, highlight reel knockout victory for Villante, who looked to be a completely new fighter in this match-up. 8) Matt Dwyer’s superman-punch knockout of William Macario (UFC Fight Night 61, Feb. 22) Dwyer landed a beautiful superman punch that stiffened Macario, dropping him face-first to the canvas. It was an incredible highlight reel finish for Dwyer and a great way for him to return to the win column following an unfortunate Octagon debut. A large underdog heading into the contest, he pulled through with the big upset. 7) Thomas de Almeida’s one-punch knockout of Anthony Birchak (UFC Fight Night 77, Nov. 7) It was tough deciding between de Almeida’s flying knee knockout of Brad Pickett or this one, but since that one made my ‘Top 10 Fights’ article, I’ll go with the Birchak knockout for this one. I personally thought Birchak was going to upset the Brazilian and hand him the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts, but I was wrong. The two landed in entertaining back and forth action until a de Almeida punch connected on Birchak’s button and put his lights out, giving the Brazilian a walk-off knockout to add to his highlight reel. 6) Ryan Benoit’s big upset TKO of Sergio Pettis (UFC 185, March 14) After losing a one sided first round to Pettis, Benoit came back strong in the second, catching Pettis with a well-timed counter-hook that put him down. A few more punches to follow forced the referree to step in and halt the action. A kick to Pettis’ butt for good measure, “Baby Face” got his hand raised for the first time inside the Octagon with the highlight reel finish. The kick that followed most likely cost him a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus that evening. 5) Thiago Alves’ body-kick TKO of Jordan Mein (UFC 183, Jan. 31) The Brazilian veteran lost a one sided first round to Mein but caught him with a bod-kick at the start of the second, digging his toes into his liver and stiffening him still, forcing a TKO stoppage as Alves poured on the following punches. It was an impressive, come from behind win for Alves and likely his last as a welterweight, considering he is rumored to be dropping down to the lightweight division with the help of nutritionist Mike Dolce. 4) Frankie Edgar’s shut-down one-punch knockout of Chad Mendes (TUF 22 Finale, Dec. 11) Edgar cemented himself as the number one contender at 145-pounds with the highlight reel finish of Mendes and now hopes his title shot comes sooner rather than later. The knockout brought everyone in the room I was watching the fight in to their feet in celebration, and those of us who had wagered on Edgar celebrated a little more loudly. 3) Conor McGregor’s shocking one-punch knockout of UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo (UFC 194, Dec. 12) 13 seconds. That’s all it took for McGregor to knock Jose Aldo out cold and become the UFC Featherweight Champion. It was the fastest finish in UFC title fight history, beating Ronda Rousey’s 14-second armbar win over Cat Zingano from earlier in the year. It was a shocking finish that had everybody’s jaws on the floor. 2) Holly Holm’s huge upset head-kick knockout heard around the world over Ronda Rousey (UFC 193, Nov. 15) Holm shocked the world with her second round head-kick knockout of Rousey, after dominating her on the feet until landing the highlight reel, fight ending finish. This was the most talked about fight at office water coolers in 2015 and the reason for that was the fashion in which Rousey was dethroned. 1) Uriah Hall’s big upset spinning back kick, flying knee and punches TKO win over Gegard Mousasi (UFC Fight Night 75, Sept. 27) Hall’s finish of Mousasi was like something out of a movie. Almost unrealistic. I had seen pretty much every kind of knockout finish you can think of, but the pairing of flashy moves Hall landed back to back was definitely a first and something I don’t think we will ever see again, inside the Octagon or anywhere else. It was the ultimate highligh reel finish and I believe it easily deserves the number one spot.
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