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 Israel Adesanya of Nigeria knocks out Alex Pereira of Brazil in the UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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The Knockouts | UFC.com 2023 Awards

Our Writers Vote On The Most Jawdropping Knockouts Of The Year 

The highly unofficial awards season continues with the biggest knockouts of 2023 and how we saw them on fight night...

1 - Josh Emmett vs Bryce Mitchell

It only took one.

Josh Emmett hit Bryce Mitchell with one right hand and the fight was over. The two men circled each other to start, looking for openings and opportunities, and when Mitchell threw a right hand, Emmett came over the top with a right hand that instantly shut off the Arkansas native’s lights.

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What a knockout. What a way to kick off the pay-per-view. What a way to close out the year for Emmett after two straight losses.

Man.

Josh Emmett Post-Fight Interview | UFC 296
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Josh Emmett Post-Fight Interview | UFC 296
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2 – Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira

Israel Adesanya is the UFC middleweight champion again after knocking out Alex Pereira in the second round.

The bitter rivals went one-for-one through much of the first two rounds, with Pereira chopping at Adesanya’s legs, and the challenger fighting with more forward pressure and urgency than in their last meeting. Just when Pereira pressed forward, looking to punish a seemingly hurt Adesanya, “The Last Stylebender” uncorked a right hand that landed flush and dazed the champion, with the follow-up right putting him on the canvas, out cold.

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Just an absolutely tantalizing finish from the Nigerian-born, Auckland-based standout, who reclaims the middleweight title in style.

Israel Adesanya of Nigeria reacts after knocking out Alex Pereira of Brazil in the UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Israel Adesanya of Nigeria reacts after knocking out Alex Pereira of Brazil in the UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

3 – Justin Gaethje vs Dustin Poirier

Another pay-per-view in Salt Lake City, another walk-off head kick finish!

Justin Gaethje claimed the BMF title with a right high kick knockout of Dustin Poirier in the early stages of the second round. After running level through the first round — Gaethje landing the great volume, Poirier connecting with the bigger individual shots — Gaethje went upstairs with a perfectly placed kick that went through Poirier’s guard and put him down.

MORE 2023 AWARDS: The Upsets | The Submissions | The Newcomers 

Just an absolutely brilliant finish from Justin Gaethje, closing out the second straight pay-per-view in Utah with a Knockout of the Year shot. What an effort!

Justin Gaethje celebrates with Kamaru Usman after his KO victory over Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight for the BMF belt during the UFC 291 event at Delta Center on July 29, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Justin Gaethje celebrates with Kamaru Usman after his KO victory over Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight for the BMF belt during the UFC 291 event at Delta Center on July 29, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

4 – Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski

There are no more questions.

Islam Makhachev was annoyed by the narrative that Alexander Volkanovski won their initial encounter and garnered more praise than he did following the victory, and on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, he made it clear he’s the better man, finishing Volkanovski in the first round.

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After grappling along the fence in the early stages, the duo broke into space and Makhachev went high with a left kick, connecting with the temple and shaking the equilibrium of the featherweight champion. The hammerfists quickly followed and the fight was halted.

This was a massive statement effort for Makhachev, who has now earned consecutive successful title defences against Volkanovski and 13 straight wins inside the Octagon.

Islam Makhachev of Russia reacts after his knockout victory against Alexander Volkanovski of Australia in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 294 event at Etihad Arena on October 21, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Islam Makhachev of Russia reacts after his knockout victory against Alexander Volkanovski of Australia in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 294 event at Etihad Arena on October 21, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chr

5 – Charles Oliveira vs Beneil Dariush

Charles Oliveira put himself right back in the championship mix with a first-round stoppage win over Beneil Dariush in the UFC 289 co-main event.

See Which Big Fights Are Happening In 2024

Dariush controlled a good portion of the frame on the ground, but when Oliveira worked his way back up late in the round, he went on the offensive, hurting Dariush and sending him to the ground. From there, the former champion pounded out a finish, halting Dariush’s winning streak and showing he’s still every bit as dangerous as he’s been saying all week.

This is a statement win for “Do Bronxs,” who adds to his record number of stoppage wins inside the Octagon. He needed to make a statement in his return to the Octagon and a massive statement was made.

 Charles Oliveira of Brazil celebrates his TKO victory over Beneil Dariush of Iran in their lightweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Charles Oliveira of Brazil celebrates his TKO victory over Beneil Dariush of Iran in their lightweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

6 – Tom Aspinall vs Sergei Pavlovich

Tom Aspinall is the interim UFC heavyweight champion!

After eating a shot from Sergei Pavlovich in the opening moments of the contest, Aspinall reset, and landed consecutive rapid right hands to the temple of the Russian brute — the first shaking his equilibrium and the second sending him crashing to the canvas.

MORE ASPINALL: Post-Fight Interview | Post-Fight Press Conference | Athlete Profile

Aspinall is now 7-1 in the UFC, with his only setback coming as a result of an injury, and each of those victories coming by way of stoppage. He’s always profiled as a future contender, and now the big man from Saint Helens has championship gold around his waist.

England, you have another UFC champion in the midst!

Tom Aspinall of England receives the interim heavyweight belt after defeating Sergei Pavlovich of Russia by TKO in the interim UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 295 event at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Tom Aspinall of England receives the interim heavyweight belt after defeating Sergei Pavlovich of Russia by TKO in the interim UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 295 event at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2023 in New York City. (Pho

7 – Robbie Lawler vs Niko Price

That’s how you close out a career!



Robbie Lawler got into a fistfight with Niko Price and wrapped his Hall of Fame career with a knockout victory! You could not script it any better and every single person in the building — including the usually emotionless Lawler — was moved by the moment.

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His fight with Rory MacDonald from UFC 189 was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this week and now that his career has come to a close, Lawler will likely take his place alongside of it in the near future.

What a way to end it!

Robbie Lawler Octagon Interview | UFC 290
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Robbie Lawler Octagon Interview | UFC 290
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8 – Edson Barboza vs Billy Quarantillo

Edson Barboza added to his highlight reel in Saturday night’s co-main event.

After trading with Billy Quarantillo throughout the opening few minutes of the first round, the Brazilian veteran planted a vicious knee on the chin of “Billy Q” as he looked to change levels. It was a terrific read and reaction from the ageless veteran, who knew there was no need for any follow-up blows as soon as the shot landed.

Entering on a two-fight slide, Barboza picks up his first victory since dispatching Shane Burgos in a similar type of pairing two years ago. Now 23-11 for his career, the 37-year-old showed he still has plenty to offer in the featherweight division with his effort in Kansas City.

9 – Ismael Bonfim vs Terrance McKinney

You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better debut finish all year, as Ismael Bonfim collected a second-round walk-off finish on Saturday, planting a flying switch knee on the side of the jaw of Terrance McKinney that sent him crashing face-first into the canvas.

The lightweights ran fairly even through the first five minutes, with Bonfim landing the better shots, but McKinney wearing them well. The Brazilian newcomer seemed to be the more composed and confident of the two, and in the second, he took the fight to McKinney. With him pinned along the fence and having just dislodged his mouthpiece with a clean counter shot, Bonfim backed off, elevated, and connected cleanly, ending the fight in a flash.

This is a tremendous debut performance for the older of the Bonfim brothers, who immediately becomes a person of interest in the 155-pound weight class by dispatching McKinney in thrilling fashion.

Ismael Bonfim of Brazil reacts after his knockout victory over Terrance McKinney in a lightweight fight during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 21, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)
Ismael Bonfim of Brazil reacts after his knockout victory over Terrance McKinney in a lightweight fight during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 21, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)

10 – Diego Ferreira vs Michael Johnson

WOW!



Diego Ferreira registered one of the most vicious knockouts of the year in Saturday’s main card opener, planting an overhand right on the jaw of Michael Johnson that sent the veteran crashing to the canvas. Johnson had a great deal of success through the first round and had just shucked Ferreira off when he looked for a takedown, and the Fortis MMA representative responded by landing a fastball that ended the fight in a flash.

UFC 296 REWIND: The Scorecard | Photo Gallery

After more than a year on the sidelines and entering on a three-fight slide, this was a statement return for Ferreira, who previously resided in the Top 15 and could be on his way back there if he keeps delivering finishes like this going forward.

Voters – Aziz Bawany, Thomas Gerbasi, E. Spencer Kyte, Steve Latrell, Gavin Porter, Zac Pacleb