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Top 10 UFC Knockouts Of 2023

There were plenty of phenomenal fight-finishing strikes inside the Octagon in 2023, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects his top 10 UFC knockouts of the year.

Israel Adesanya

There were plenty of phenomenal fight-finishing strikes inside the Octagon in 2023, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects his top 10 UFC knockouts of the year.

The world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts promotion held their final event of the year at the weekend, prompting my annual look back at the best and most spectacular stoppages over the last 12 months.

From a legend bowing out in style to another going down swinging and titles changing hands in the most awe-inspiring fashion imaginable, the year saw jaw-dropping moments that will stand the test of time.

Honourable mentions:

Ferreira Shuts Down Robocop

Bruno Ferreira displayed his devastating one-punch knockout power when he crumbled Gregory “Robocop” Rodrigues with a lethal left hand at UFC 283 in January.

Brutal Ballet

Amanda Ribas rallied to score an epic comeback win over Luana Pinheiro in November, catching her with a beautiful spinning heel kick and finishing her with rapid-fire punches.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 UFC knockouts of 2023:

10: Perfect Swansong

Ageing legends usually go out on their backs, so it was a particularly special moment when the great Robbie Lawler capped off his career with one last ruthless display of savagery to stop Niko Price in his retirement fight at UFC 290 in July.

9: Historic British Beatdown

It took Tom Aspinall, who stepped up on two weeks’ notice, just 69 seconds to stop Sergei Pavlovich – the most feared heavyweight on the roster coming off six straight first-round knockouts – with his extraordinary combination of speed, power and footwork to become the first-ever British UFC heavyweight champion at UFC 296 in November.

8: Suga Reaches Superstardom

Similar to Conor McGregor’s featherweight title-winning knockout of Jose Aldo back in 2015, “Suga” Sean O’Malley floored long-reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling with a step-back blow and peppered him with precision punching that forced the referee to stop the fight and launched the newly crowned 145-king into superstardom.

7: Stiff As A Board

After an 18-month absence, Diego Ferreira returned with a bang against Michael Johnson in May, landing a hellacious overhand right that left the veteran spark out before he even hit the canvas.

6: Frightening Finish

The scariest knockout of the year came courtesy of Josh Emmett when he obliterated Bryce Mitchell with a haymaker from hell in the final event of 2023, which sent an unconscious Mitchell’s body into convulsions.

5: Zombie Killer

One of the most beloved and durable fighters in UFC history was put down for good in Singapore in August and the warrior that is “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Going for broke, he rushed Max Holloway and went out on his sword as the former featherweight champion sent him into retirement with a wicked overhand right.

4: Pound-for-pound Headshot

After narrowly beating him in their first fight, lightweight champion Islam Makhachev put the rivalry with Alexander Volkanovski to bed and cemented his place atop the pound-for-pound rankings as he finished the featherweight king with a head kick in the opening round of their rematch at UFC 294 in October.

3: The Baddest Of Them All

The fight promised to be a perfect storm of violence and Justin Gaethje delivered as he produced a thunderous head-kick knockout of Justin Poirier at UFC 291 in July to win the BMF belt and avenge his 2018 loss to “The Diamond”.

2: Destructive Debut

Making his promotional debut in his native Brazil at UFC 283 in January, Ismael Bonfim made the best first impression possible as he sprung into the air in flash and face-planted Terrance McKinney with one of the most picture-perfect flying knees ever seen inside the Octagon.

1: Adesanya Vanquishes His Boogeyman

For seven years, Alex Pereira haunted Israel Adesanya. He’d beaten him for the first time in 2016 and knocked him out cold in the rematch the following year, both in kickboxing. Not content, “Poatan” followed Adesanya into the mixed martial arts world, where “The Last Stylebender” ruled the UFC’s middleweight division with an iron fist.

Unbeaten at 185 pounds, the Nigerian-born and New Zealand-bred champion welcomed the challenge of his arch-rival. They met in the Octagon last November with Adesanya moments away from winning a decision before Pereira produced a come-from-behind knockout in the fifth round to win the title in just his eighth MMA fight.

Down 3-0, Adesanya took a final crack at conquering his greatest foe in their championship rematch At UFC 287 in April. In the ultimate example of believing in yourself and facing your demons head-on, Adesanya exacted revenge and regained his title in the best way possible, luring his arch-rival into a trap and starching him with a crushing right hand before busting out a now-iconic celebration.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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