Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve
This fight seemed like a crazy mismatch of UFC booking. In one corner stood heavyweight contender Stefan Struve. Struve is a 7 foot tall marvel of Dutch ingenuity. If woodworkers attempted to build their own Shaquille O'Neil out of enchanted logs, he'd probably look something like Struve. Mark Hunt, on the other hand, is a powerful Pacific Islander stereotype in that at 5'10, 260+ pounds, he's built like a pineapple yet still moves like a fevered hallucination.
Neither fighter is well known for being conditioned to go deep into the third round. At a minute and a half into the third round of their fight, both men were gasping for breath after attempting to liquify the others internal organs. Finally, The meatier part of Hunt's right fist connected solidly enough against Struve's temple to cause Struve to backpedal and drop his hands. Hunt channeled every bit of his remaining energy into the next shot. A charging left hook straight to Struve's jaw. Struve was knocked silly. As his brain reformatted itself, his body reflexively went to a guard position waiting for an attack that didn't come. Mark Hunt didn't notice, he was too busy striking an awesome victory pose. Struve posted his x-ray of his broken jaw after the fight. I'm sad to report that any dinosaurs living on Stefan Struve were destroyed by the extinction level event known as HUNTO-1.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
Chris Weidman beat the former number 1 pound for pound king Anderson Silva twice in 2013. In their second fight, he proved that leg kicks do win fights by performing a move named "The Destroyer". It may sound like something the Ultimate Warrior would do before pinning his opponent, but it's actually a leg kick block that has the unfortunate side effect of sometimes detonating the other person's leg. The fight has led to many intense conversations over the definition of an accident.
But in their first confrontation, he knocked Silva out cold. Silva used some of his usual trickery to try to get into Weidman's head. He danced a little here, he waggled a little there. This technique had worked before, and what's a Chris Weidman anyway? When we entered the second round, Silva did the exact same thing. Weidman attempted a variety of offenses. He landed a takedown in the first, attempted a submission, and was getting the better of the striking exchanges. Finally, Weidman caught the champ mid-zag with an unexpected backhand that threw off Silva's timing just long enough for a fully charged left hook to turn Silva's spinal fluid to pee.
Everyone vs. Alistair Overeem
2013 was a tough year for the 'Reem. For a fighter coming off of a year's suspension, you would think Overeem would have been better prepared for his next fight, but instead Overeem's fightmetric still shows a great big 0 in the fucks given column. Having solidly won the first two rounds against Antonio Silva in their UFC 156 fight, he seemed pretty content to coast his way through the third and win an easy decision. His arrogance awaked the primal fury of Bigfoot, who finished Overeem by forcing him against the cage wall, beat him until Overeem's arms stopped defending, and then clobbered his exposed face until he fell.
He later faced breakout star Travis Browne and dominated most of the first round. He held him against the cage and beat him like he cheered for the wrong soccer team. For someone who has never been kneed in the body, it feels kind of like getting stabbed to death by a baseball bat. Browne took 23 of these in the first round and crumpled once. Overeem kept punching and punching but Browne never went out. Finally an exhausted Overeem stood and Travis Browne did something brilliant and stupid. He started throwing lots of front kicks. If jabs weren't working, maybe jabs with the feet would. They came from everywhere, and Alistair did the opposite of what you should do when someone is trying to punt your chin - he stood directly in front of it. Over and over again, foot to mouth, foot to mouth until finally the match ended with him on the floor and Browne screaming something about hearts and BMWs. (I think he may have been telling us where the treasure is buried.)
Emanuel Newton vs. Muhammed Lawal
Emanuel Newton fought King Mo in the semifinals of Bellator's light heavyweight tournament. You can google euthanasia and find more pictures of smiles than you will if you look up either of these men. When Emanuel Newton knocked out Lawal at Bellator 90 back in February, it became one of the promotion's biggest moments.
Newton began by throwing a hook so wild that its scent attracted nearby badgers. Mo responded with his own right hook at the air where Newton was standing a few seconds before, but by this point Newton was several feet away and facing the crowd. Newton had to correct the issue of not facing his opponent and threw a lazy spinning backlist that just happened to connect. King Mo briefly went light as a feather, stiff as a board, before wobbly tumbling over into the loving arms of Newton. Catching your own knockout is mma's version of picking which two fans will fight over your home run ball, and for this, Emanuel Newton makes the list.
Derrick Mehmen vs. Rolles Gracie
Knock Out of the Year
Originally I had every intention of giving the distinction of this honor to Sharkeisha in hopes of setting up a battle between her and last years winner, Cleveland Bus Driver. But then something magical happened at a relatively unwatched World Series of Fighting 5.
Derrick "Caveman" Mehmen squared off against Rolles Gracie, Jr. in a heavyweight undercard bout. Caveman defeats the majority of his opponents by taking them down and pounding them into most of the base components required to summon a demon. Unfortunately, Rolles Gracie's anglicized name would read something like Rolling Chokemaster, so naturally this plan of attack would be foolish.
The two fighters seemed perfectly content circling each other for most of the first round. Mehmen would occasionally fight with his hair as it kept falling in his face, but even it was winning the points battle. So was the guy who kept retreating and punching him whenever he'd pause to brush some of it aside. Most of round 2 went in a similar fashion, but then Mehman landed a perfect charging overhand right. Gracie's arms and legs weren't quick enough to protect him from the shot, but Gracie's head did everything it could to get away from the peril quickly impending it's way forward at terminal velocity. Just as Gracie's brain realized it was a fool to opt out of additional side airbags, Mehmen's fist connected and spun Gracie around a full 180 degrees.
Suddenly Gracie found himself in a blurry meadow reunited and running in slow motion with his lost childhood dog. Meanwhile in the cage, his body had the same reflexive impulse that mine does when I want milk at 4 in the morning. His unconscious figure shambled forward several extra steps before face planting itself in a defeated pile. "Holy shit," exclaimed the internet for months to come.