There’s nothing quite like a knockout and in the last 12 months there was a plethora of them. This could easily be a top 50 list, but here are Sportsnet.ca’s top 12 KOs of 2012:
1. Edson Barboza def. Terry Etim, spinning heel kick
Not only was this an easy choice for KO of the Year in 2012, but it was arguably the greatest knockout in UFC history. Barboza landed a perfect spinning heel kick to Etim’s face at UFC 142 that had his opponent out cold and stiff before he hit the ground. Barboza’s KO was right up there with Mike Trout’s catch at the wall in major league baseball and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 30-yard bicycle kick goal in soccer as the most impressive individual sports plays of the year in 2012.
2. Ryan Jimmo def. Anthony Perosh, 7-second KO
Canadian Ryan Jimmo’s UFC debut was as perfect as you could imagine. He landed the first punch he threw, knocking out his opponent and tying a UFC record for fastest KO at UFC 149. He did it all in front of family and friends in his home province of Alberta as well then celebrated with some cool break-dancing moves.
3. Pat Curran def. Joe Warren, knees & punches & pure violence!
Pat Curran became Bellator’s featherweight champ at Bellator 60 with this vicious combination on Joe Warren.
4. Justin Lawrence def. John Cofer, head kick
Lawrence possesses a strong kicking arsenal and when Cofer kept circling to his left at the TUF Live finale on June 1 he got caught with a right head kick from Lawrence that put him to sleep.
5. Lyndon Whitlock def. Cory Houston, right hand and hammerfist
Hamilton, Ont.’s Lyndon Whitlock landed one of the biggest knockout blows of the year in front of his hometown fans at SFS 4.
6. Daron Cruickshank def. Henry Martinez, head kick
You know you’ve done something special when your last name is turned into a verb. At UFC on FOX 5 Daron Cruickshank was battering Henry Martinez, but couldn’t put his durable opponent away. However, Cruickshank landed a head kick midway through Round 2 and Martinez went down in a heap. And thus the term Cruickshanked was born.
7. Nate Marquardt def. Tyron Woodley, elbows and uppercuts
Former No. 1 UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt made his Strikeforce welterweight debut a memorable one as he put away the previously undefeated Tyron Woodley with an elbow-uppercut combination in the fourth round of an entertaining bout at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy. Marquardt won the vacant 170-pound Strikeforce title and put other welterweights on notice.
8. Cung Le def. Rich Franklin, big right hand
No matter how skilled or experienced a fighter is if they don’t keep their hands up after throwing a kick they’re open for a counter. Rich Franklin didn’t cover up quick enough after throwing a combo at UFC on Fuel TV 6 and Cung Le caught him with a right hand that sent him to the canvas.
9. Anthony Pettis def. Joe Lauzon, shin to chin
The last ever WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis only fought once in 2012, but oh boy was it spectacular. He landed a kick, shin to chin, on Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 and went right back to being a top contender following two forgettable performances against Clay Guida and Jeremy Stephens. Pettis set Lauzon up by throwing several leg kicks then switching it up and going to the head early in the first round.
10. Eddie Alvarez def. Patricky Freire, head kick
In what could likely serve as Eddie Alvarez’s final Bellator fight, the former lightweight champion went out with a bang at Bellator 76 in Windsor, Ont.
11. Brad Pickett def. Yves Jabouin, uppercut then Gangnam Style
Montreal’s Jabouin was getting the better of England’s top bantamweight Pickett at UFC on FUEL 5, but Pickett landed an uppercut that put the Tristar product to sleep. Pickett topped things off by celebrating with a nice little Gangnam Style dance.
12. Anthony Johnson def. D.J. Linderman, straight right hand
A couple days before Christmas Rashad Evans told me that he believes his Blackzilian teammate Anthony Johnson has the talent to be a UFC champion. If his fight with Linderman at World Series of Fighting 1 is any indication of what he’s capable of in the light-heavyweight division, Evans may be on to something.
Honourable mention: Nick Denis def. Joseph Sandoval (standing elbows), Johny Hendricks def. Martin Kampmann (left hook), Siyar Bahadurzada def. Paulo Thiago (counter right), Jose Aldo def. Chad Mendes (knee then ran into the crowd), Pat Barry def. Shane del Rosario (punch), Antonio Silva vs. Travis Browne (right hand), Michael McDonald def. Miguel Torres (uppercut), Brian Rogers def. Vitor Vianna (flying knee), Stephen Thompson def. Dan Stittgen (head kick)