They may be known for not delivering as many knockouts as their male counterparts, yet the women of the UFC have provided some truly horrific KOs over the past decade
Since female fighters were introduced to the UFC less than a decade ago, the women of the Octagon have proven they belong in the sport's premier organization and have delivered plenty of classic wars and memorable finishes over the years.
There is however a notable drop in knockouts compared to their male peers (particularly amongst the UFC's strawweights), with female fights more commonly ending in either a submission or via decision, and often the fights that do end via strikes are TKOs as a result of accumulation/being trapped in a bad position rather than clean knockouts.
This trend is often capitalized on by bettors (including myself) who pick the over on rounds fought in most women's matchups in the UFC; there are however certain female fighters with an affinity for ending fights early (like Amanda Nunes for example), and even ones who are not known for their fight-ending power can still sometimes surprise us with a stunning knockout once in a while.
This past weekend saw an excellent bit of matchmaking by the UFC in pairing perennial contender Jessica Andrade with surging striker Amanda Lemos.
Two powerful Brazilians known for their finishing ability, it was one of the rare instances of a female strawweight bout in which bettors were actually taking the under - and although it didn't result in a knockout as expected, it did result in the first standing arm triangle submission in UFC history, showing just how incredibly strong Andrade is to be able to pull off such a submission without taking the opponent down.
Although it ended with a submission, the matchup got me thinking about some of the brutal knockouts we've seen over the years that women like Andrade have delivered - so much so that I decided to compile a list.
So without further ado, here are the top ten most brutal knockouts in women's UFC history. As always, GIFs of the finishes are linked in red.
10. Rose Namajunas' demolition of Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Knockout finishes may be more rare at strawweight than in any other division, but when they do happen, they somehow manage to be particularly brutal.
At UFC 217, Rose Namajunas came in as a notable underdog against Joanna Jędrzejczyk (also referred to as Joanna Champion or Joanna Violence given her incredibly hard to pronounce last name).
Joanna had ruled the strawweight division for nearly three years and had dominated her opposition to that point, improving her record to a pristine 14-0 with four defenses of her title in her journey to establish herself as one of the premier strikers in mixed martial arts regardless of gender.
"Thug" Rose on the other hand had made a name for herself on the first all-female season of The Ultimate Fighter, scoring three slick submissions on the show before losing to inaugural UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza in the finale (Esparza was subsequently demolished and stopped in the second round of her next fight by one Joanna Violence).
After the show, Rose continued to make impressive strides in her striking to complement her slick submission skills, scoring four victories in her next five outings with her only defeat coming in a controversial split decision to another top contender in Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Overall she had finished five of her six pro wins via submission, and had another three submission wins in The Ultimate Fighter (which are counted as exhibition matches in order to keep results hidden until aired).
Though the young prospect had clearly established herself as a true contender for the title and had evolved into a great striker in her own right, if Rose was going to capture the title from savvy kickboxing technician Joanna, virtually everyone thought she'd have to take the fight to the ground.
In just three minutes however, Thug Rose tore up that narrative and shocked the world.
Namajunas set up a picture-perfect left hook that sent the champion down hard just past the midway point of the opening round - a few follow up shots sealed the deal and Namajunas had not only scored the first knockout victory in her professional career, but had just knocked out the woman widely considered to be the best striker in the game.
Not bad for a 24-year-old with just nine prior pro bouts to her name.
9. Irene Aldana's lamping of Ketlen Vieira
Speaking of beautiful left hooks, Mexican bantamweight standout Irene Aldana has evolved her left hand into one of the best in the business.
Primarily a slick offensive boxer that likes to throw combinations and fight at range, Aldana was known for her heavy hands and for being involved in some exciting scraps over the years; by 2018 however, she really began to come into her own largely thanks to her lead hand, developing a stinging and accurate jab that would later be paired with a powerful left hook.
With a record of 4-1 in her last five outings with her lone loss coming via a controversial split decision, Aldana secured a shot at a top contender in Ketlen Vieira at UFC 245 in 2019.
Vieira came in as a heavy favourite given her undefeated 10-0 record and solid overall skillset, impressive size for the division, and a punishing top game leading her to notch victories over longtime contenders like Cat Zingano and Sara McMann.
The fight started off well enough for Vieira as she got the better of several exchanges on the feet, establishing a strong jab of her own. Aldana began to find her timing as the round wore on however, and Vieira soon found out why it isn't wise to try and trade left hooks with Irene Aldana.
Stepping into the pocket near the end of the round, Aldana came forward with a picturesque left hook that turned Ketlen's chin as she attempted to throw a check hook of her own. A few follow up shots left Vieira out cold on the canvas, her undefeated record going out the window at the same time as her consciousness.
8. Rose Namajunas' assassination of Zhang Weili
It didn't take long to find ourselves once again looking at Thug Rose, but she really has been involved in some of the most memorable and shocking moments in MMA history.
After taking the strawweight crown from Joanna, Rose proved her finish of the longtime champ was no fluke by defeating Joanna in a rematch, albeit in a closely contested decision this time around that saw both women able to show off a wider range of skills.
Following that, Namajunas dropped her title in just as shocking a fashion as Joanna had (continue reading for more on that), a brutal finish from Jessica Andrade putting her out of action for over a year.
The loss even had Rose publically contemplate retirement, but ultimately she decided to return to the Octagon and avenged her defeat in a rematch with Andrade, though this time a title wasn't on the line.
Instead, Rose's victory earned her a crack at the new strawweight queen of the UFC, Zhang Weili.
After losing a decision in her very first MMA fight back in 2013, Weili won sixteen straight bouts in Asia with fifteen finishes (9 T/KOs, 6 submissions) before making the trip to the UFC.
From there, Weili scored another three wins to earn a crack at newly crowned champion Jessica Andrade in Shenzhen, China.
Most fans expected an exciting scrap between two tough and explosive finishers, but it turned out to be a one-sided shellacking, Weili finishing Andrade with a barrage of strikes in just 42 seconds. With her victory Weili became the first Chinese champion in the promotion's history.
Zhang's next outing opposite former champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk lasted a full 25-minutes and was easily one of the greatest fights in UFC history in addition to winning 2020's Fight of the Year honours. The two went to war for an epic five round battle of attrition, both women battering and wobbling the other on multiple occasions in one of the finest technical striking battles the sport has ever seen.
Weili took home the close decision win and for her follow-up act took on another former champ in Rose Namajunas.
Known as a quiet person that had previously gone out of her way to avoid trash talk (which made her quite popular leading up to her fight with Joanna Jędrzejczyk, who enjoyed talking shit to her opponents at every turn), the respectful tone between the two took a surprising twist late in the lead-up to the fight as Rose, who is of Lithuanian descent and whose family had to endure Soviet occupation, took aim at Weili's proud Chinese heritage, remarking "better dead than red" in reference to living under communism.
The remark sparked outrage amongst liberal MMA fans (read: journalists) and Weili's team, leading Rose to clarify that her problem is with the Chinese government and not Weili herself.
Regardless of the blowback from certain circles, the comment undoubtedly made her more popular amongst fans in Florida, where the two squared off at UFC 261; for the first time in her career, Weili was heavily booed walking into the cage, something that she would later blame her loss on.
The highly anticipated title fight started off quiet enough as the two engaged in a brief "feeling out" process that accompanies most high stakes fights. And then everything changed in an instant.
Out of seemingly nowhere, Rose caught Weili's chin with a lead head kick that sent the champion crashing to the canvas. Though she tried to sit up, Weili was put out cold with several follow up shots that left her facedown on the mat.
Weili was adamant that the fight was stopped prematurely, but anyone who saw the replay knows different - and that Thug had once again asserted herself as the queen of the strawweights.
7. Ronda Rousey's faceplanting of Bethe Correia
2015 was truly the height of Rousey-mania in the sports world - having already scored four defenses of her UFC bantamweight title with all ten of her pro fights ending via finish, UFC superstar Ronda Rousey even had pundits from the boxing world buzzing about a potential crossover to the squared circle.
The prior year saw Rousey score the first two knockouts of her career - one via knees to the body of fellow Olympic medalist Sara McMann, and the other a 16-second starching of longtime vet Alexis Davis.
Her focus on improving her boxing under the tutelage of the great Edmond Taverdyan and her impressive shadow boxing had landed her the cover of boxing's prestigious Ring Magazine and even had longtime MMA figures like Joe Rogan gushing over how great her striking was becoming and how her dominance was akin to "a female version of Mike Tyson".
After a quick 14-second armbar over Cat Zingano, Rousey was quite literally out of quality opposition to face - and that's where Bethe Correia came in.
Although the Brazilian brawler sported an undefeated 9-0 record, she was about as far away from a legitimate title contender as one could get.
Her UFC debut was "successful" in that she picked up a decision over grizzled vet Julie Kedzie, however the split decision result was highly controversial, not to mention that Kedzie was on a three-fight skid and retired following the bout.
Bethe's next fight came against one of the "four horsewomen of MMA", which was what Ronda and her close friends Jessamyn Duke, Shayna Baszler, and Marina Shafir called themselves.
Correia found herself battering Jessamyn Duke over three rounds in a fight that was more indicative of how Duke's career was taking a nosedive rather than how good Bethe was. Duke, once a rising prospect with a promising start to her professional career, had gone markedly downhill as soon as she began training with Rousey's much maligned coach Taverdyan, and her fight with Correia was the first in a series of poor performances that led her to transition to professional wrestling after she lost five straight in unscripted combat.
Bethe then set her sights on Shayna Baszler, another of Rousey's friends who was nearing the tail end of her MMA career.
An excellent grappler and a pioneer in the sport in her own right, Baszler had been forced to sit out for over a year due to injuries and came into the fight with Bethe noticably out of shape and appeared to be having knee issues during the bout, leading her to perform her best impression of a punching bag for Correia.
Anyone that had seen Bethe fight knew she was nowhere near a worthy title challenger and had yet to face elite competition, but with her taking out two of Rousey's teammates and calling out the "four horsewomen" at every turn, the story wrote itself and Bethe managed to luck her way into a title fight.
Virtually no one believed Correia had a shot against Rousey, and even in the striking department, where Bethe would supposedly want to keep the fight, Bethe had shown little to get excited about.
Rousey herself wasn't exactly a good striker (more on that later) regardless of how hyped people were about it, but what she lacked in technique and skill in her strikes she made up for with athleticism and power. Bethe meanwhile, showed off all the athleticism of a geriatric monkey every time she entered the cage.
The writing was on the wall and Rousey got her revenge in Bethe's home country of Brazil in a mere 34 seconds, overwhelming her lacking challenger and flatlining her with a right straight as Correia tried to circle out of an exchange with her hands in her pockets.
It may have been an entirely predictable outcome, but that doesn't make it any less brutal. You don't see faceplant knockouts very often, but damn are they memorable when you do.
6. Jessica Andrade's one hitter quitter on Karolina Kowalkiewicz
The woman who inspired this countdown is of course going to feature in the list, and if you're even the least bit squeamish, you may want to skip both of her entries in this piece.
Andrade may be small in stature, but she is an absolute powerhouse with stopping power in her hands and ridiculous strength for her size. Despite standing at just 5'2, she was able to hold her own at bantamweight and has simply (wo)manhandled her opposition at strawweight - when locked in a cage with Andrade, it's best to keep her as far away from you as possible.
Unfortunately for Karolina Kowalkiewicz, she learned that lesson the hard way.
The "Polish Princess" made a name for herself as an entertaining and scrappy prospect that also endeared fans with her extremely kind demeanor that belied the elbows she'd be winging at her opponent's face whenever they were in clinch range.
After racking up a perfect 10-0 record which included a close decision win over future champ Rose Namajunas, Kowalkiewicz stepped up to face Joanna Jędrzejczyk and although she lost a lopsided decision, she showed her heart and toughness and even managed to badly hurt the champion in the fifth and final round.
Her next fight was a surprising first round submission loss to top contender Claudia Gadelha, but she made her way back to the upper echelon of the division by picking up two straight victories that saw her squaring off with Jessica Andrade in a title eliminator bout.
As previously mentioned, getting in close to Andrade has never been a good strategy for any of her opponents - keeping her at range is key to having success against the Brazilian bomber, but enjoying a brawl herself, Karolina opted to instead stand and trade with the heaviest hitter in the division.
The decision certainly perplexed many viewers, but at the same time, it made for one hell of a firefight for as long as it lasted. Karolina landed some solid combinations of her own in the chaotic sub-two-minute affair, but the difference in power was immediately apparent and Andrade was nailing her with power shots at will.
Kowalkiewicz was never one to back down though, and pushed forward for one final defiant charge - only to be sent to the abyss by a titanic right hook.
Karolina may not have been out for long as she regained consciousness before she even hit the mat, but similar to Mark Hunt's brutal walkoff KO over Frank Mir, Karolina was absolutely done; her eyes were glassed and she struggled to stand on her own accord after the fight had been called.
Unfortunately Karolina was never the same after that night, losing her next four outings and largely looking lethargic in the cage. If that isn't a lesson to young fighters on avoiding a brawl with a slugger, I don't know what is.
5. Molly McCann's spinning back elbow on Luana Carolina
The most recent entry on this list, "Meatball" Molly McCann went from being a fan-friendly grinder to a bonafide star in England with her performance at the O2 Arena in London.
A veteran of seven UFC fights by the time she fought in March of this year, McCann was known as a scrappy and aggressive fighter with a penchant for being in solid bouts even if they weren't overly memorable. She wasn't exactly known as a finisher however - though she had a few finishes on the regional circuit, McCann had gone to the scorecards in six of her seven UFC bouts, with the lone finish coming via a submission loss in her UFC debut.
When she found herself locked in a cage across from Luana Carolina back in her home country however, McCann turned into an entirely different beast.
Carolina came into the bout as the favourite having gone 4-1 in her UFC career to that point, showing herself to be a slick and well-rounded striker that many felt would be able to neutralize McCann thanks to her considerable reach advantage of seven inches. Little did she know that she was about to get meatballed.
McCann came out like a bat out of hell and swarmed Carolina with volleys of punches, blowing right past Carolina's longer frame and scoring dozens of heavy blows on the Brazilian's chin. At several points it appeared as though McCann was going to get the finish, but Luana was able to do just enough to stay in the fight and survived the lopsided opening stanza.
Having expended so much energy in the first frame, McCann slowed in the second, but was still able to secure the round thanks to takedowns and some more solid flurries which now came in shorter spurts. The crowd was loving it and heading into the third, it looked like McCann was easily on her way to a decision victory even if her gas tank was running on fumes, so long as she didn't get finished.
Finishing her is exactly with Luana was intent on doing as she came out much more aggressive in the third, landing some heavy shots of her own as she desperately tried to turn the tide. Buoyed by the crowd, McCann refused to back down or coast to a victory however, and that attitude soon paid off.
As Carolina looked to keep McCann in clinch range where she had been landing some heavy knees, Molly broke from the clinch and decided that she was going to try throwing some spinning shit now - and boy did she ever succeed.
A spinning back elbow smashed into Carolina's cheek and put the Brazilian out cold on impact, her lifeless body flopping to the mat as her soul drifted toward the O2's rafters.
The finish was as shocking as it was violent and has Meatball currently leading the pack when it comes to 2022's knockout of the year.
4. Amanda Nunes slumping Cris Cyborg
It's kind of insane that Cris Cyborg doesn't feature in this list besides as a victim, but most of her career took place outside of the Octagon and she largely featured a more measured, patient approach during her seven-fight UFC stint that resulted in lopsided maulings rather than brutal knockouts.
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino was already regarded as one of if not the greatest female fighters in MMA history by the time the featherweight made her way to the world's famous Octagon, having gone undefeated in sixteen outings spanning eleven years following a submission loss in her pro debut.
Cyborg had captured gold in various promotions but in her early UFC bouts, she was forced to struggle to make catchweights of 140 pounds for her first two outings as the UFC foolishly believed they could get Cyborg down to bantamweight for a showdown with Ronda Rousey, who refused to go up to featherweight to face her (regardless of the brutal cuts both resulted in easy TKO wins for Justino).
After finally relenting and kicking off the featherweight division in the UFC (which they stupidly rushed out with a title fight not involving Cyborg, who everyone regarded as the champion of the division), Cyborg captured the vacant featherweight UFC crown after the inaugural champ Germaine De Randamie refused to fight her; after Invicta's featherweight champion Megan Anderson pulled out of their match as well, Cyborg mauled Invicta's bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger on short notice instead.
She defended her crown by beating Holly Holm by decision, showing off her technical prowess and outstriking the former bantamweight champion and multiple-time boxing title holder over the course of five rounds.
After a quick and lopsided dispatching of Yana Kunitskaya, Cyborg would welcome UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes back to featherweight for a superfight at UFC 232.
The "Lioness" had begun her career at featherweight on smaller shows before dropping down to the bantamweight division during her time in Strikeforce. She made a name for herself as a fast starter with serious power and finishing ability, but she had a tendency to fade if her opponents could survive her early onslaught.
This was never more apparent than in her bout with Cat Zingano at UFC 178, where Nunes utterly dominated Zingano early and nearly had her finished, only for Zingano to survive and stop an exhausted Nunes in the third round with ground and pound.
Following that loss however, Nunes put everything together and while she still had a tendency to finish her opponents early, she became much better at picking her spots and conserving her energy to extend herself to later rounds, picking up the first decision win of her career against Valentina Shevchenko to earn herself a crack at the UFC bantamweight title.
Nunes absolutely demolished the cindarella story of Miesha Tate to take the throne, and from there the Lioness ran roughshod through the elite of the division. A brutal 48-second beatdown of Ronda Rousey, a close decision win over Shevchenko in a rematch, and a lopsided shellacking of ridiculously tough Raquel Pennington had many declaring Nunes as the greatest female fighter in MMA history, all leading to a monumental showdown with the juggernaut Cris Cyborg.
Nunes would return to featherweight to attempt to become the first double champ in women's history, and if there's one word to describe the showdown between her and Cyborg at UFC 232, it would be "chaos".
Cyborg had been known as a relentless destroyer for years, but in her UFC tenure to that point she had shown off a more relaxed, skillful approach despite fighting overmatched opponents (besides Holly Holm) given the shallow talent pool of the featherweight division. Against Nunes, that approach went straight out the window as Cyborg came out swinging and managed to clip Nunes early, sending the featherweight mauler into a frenzy.
Instead of wilting under the power of the mighty Cyborg, Nunes opted to swing back and brawl, clipping Cyborg back. Rather than look to tie up or slow things down to find her bearings, Cyborg simply continued throwing bombs as the two threw haymakers back and forth.
Unfortunately for Cyborg, Nunes remained accurate and crisp and as a result detonated bombs on the featherweight queen's chin, dropping her near the cage less than a minute into the furious affair. Cyborg regained her footing and attempted to fire back, only to eat a right cross that left her facedown on the canvas.
The stunning knockout and ridiculously chaotic slugfest that preceeded it lasted just 51-seconds and saw Nunes join Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier as the only concurrent two-division champs in UFC history, becoming the first female to do so. The fact that she faceplanted the seemingly unstoppable force that was Cris Cyborg just added to the brutality on display.
Unfortunately a rematch never occurred as Nunes dropped back down to bantamweight and during her appeals for a second fight, Cyborg got into a heated dispute with UFC brass that ended up with her being released by the promotion and instead plying her trade over in Bellator.
3. Jessica Andrade's vicious slam KO over Rose Namajunas
For a division known for its lack of knockouts, the strawweight title has sure seen its fair share of vicious KOs over the years and they've virtually all involved two women in some manner: Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas.
When the two met at UFC 237 in 2019, Namajunas was coming off of back-to-back victories over the previously dominant champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk and as such was a heavy favourite, particularly given her excellent management of distance and sizeable height and reach advantage (three inches each) over her challenger, as well as her submission prowess from her back should Andrade look to take the fight to the mat.
Andrade on the other hand was riding a streak of her own that included a brutal knockout over Karolina Kowalkiewicz in her last outing. Her past title efforts against Joanna however had many believing she had little hope of beating Namajunas given her inability to close the distance against the prior champion.
Those concerns didn't prove to be unfounded as Rose lit up Andrade early on the feet, easily keeping her at bay with a sharp jab and nailing the Brazilian with crisp combinations.
When Andrade did manage to close the distance and attempt one of her famous slams, her favourite high-crotch takedown was nullified by a slick kimura attempt by the champion that not only prevented her from being slammed, but also nearly finished the fight. In another clinch situation, Rose landed a nasty knee that sent Andrade reeling, proving that even in tight Andrade didn't seem to enjoy the advantage she was hoping for.
The second round saw more of the same and it seemed like Namajunas was destined to defend her title in a lopsided beatdown. But Andrade had other plans.
Midway through the second, Andrade once again locked up with Rose and looked for her signature high-crotch takedown, and once again Rose looked to counter with the kimura. Undoubtedly Rose had drilled that counter repeatedly when preparing for Andrade, and just like commentator Dominick Cruz, she thought she was safe from getting slammed when doing it.
The problem was Andrade adjusted her grip on this attempt and unlike on her first try, it gave her the ability to perform her signature slam.
Namajunas held on to her grip all the way down, never letting go to try and brace her fall even as her head slammed into the Octagon's floorboards. Thug Rose was out cold as soon as she hit the mat, a few coffin nails being hammered in before the ref could reach her just serving to reinforce the fact that there was a new strawweight queen.
Slam knockouts have always been a rare occurrence and are typically devastating when they do occur, but the height Andrade got on the lift and the way Rose landed on her head and neck were downright horrifying.
2. Valentina Shevchenko's execution of Jessica Eye
Just about nobody gave Jessica Eye any chance of defeating Valentina Shevchenko when they squared off at UFC 238, but even then the brutality with which she was dispatched was just plain scary.
A multiple-time world champion in kickboxing with a record of 57-2, Shevchenko rapidly rounded out her MMA game as she rose through the rankings at bantamweight. Her ascension up the UFC ranks was halted only by a decision loss to Amanda Nunes, who mauled her early on the ground but then got picked apart in the third after slowing down considerably.
Shevchenko quickly earned herself a rematch and a shot at Nunes' title, where the two took part in a much less exciting chess match on the feet that largely consisted of extended periods staring at each other and circling the Octagon to little effect. Regardless of the lackluster action, many felt Shevchenko did enough to win the decision, but ultimately Nunes was awarded the victory and with her natural weight class of flyweight now being added to the UFC, Shevchenko opted to head down to 125 pounds in the aftermath.
Similar to what they did when the strawweight division was added, the UFC put on a season of The Ultimate Fighter for the flyweights with the winner of the season being awarded the inaugural flyweight title. Also similar to the strawweight division's season, the clear top fighter in the division wasn't in the show.
After a weight miss from her opponent led to a clusterfuck of a finale, Nicco Montano was awarded the UFC's inaugural flyweight title - injuries set back her defense against who was perceived as the true champion of the division in Valentina Shevchenko, and that fight ultimately never came to be as Montano was hospitalized while cutting weight for the bout and as a consequence was stripped of the championship after nearly a year of holding it hostage.
Shevchenko later faced Joanna Jędrzejczyk for the vacant title, who used to compete as a flyweight as well before she dropped down to strawweight and ultimately dominated the division for years. The two had competed three times in the past, albeit as amateurs in a kickboxing ring, with Shevchenko having taken all three bouts on the scorecards.
Shevchenko once again proved to be Joanna's superior as she took home the decision and looked a cut above the former strawweight queen, who did put up a good fight in her own right.
For her first defense, Shevchenko would meet Jessica Eye, who had previously seen herself amongst the elite in the bantamweight division but had fallen on hard times thanks to a whopping four straight decision losses.
The losing streak saw Eye drop down to her natural weight class of flyweight as soon as the UFC introduced it to the Octagon and with the move she picked up three straight wins, ultimately defeating Katlyn Chookagian in a contendership bout to earn herself a crack at Shevchenko.
Though a competent striker in her own right, Eye's defense had always been lacking and compared to the kickboxing of Shevchenko, everyone outside of perhaps Eye herself knew she was way outgunned. Even on the ground she was equally outclassed - it was essentially a sanctioned murder, but even then the outcome wasn't expected to be quite as brutal as it would be.
The first round consisted of Shevchenko easily picking Eye apart on the feet, landing several nasty body kicks and taking Eye down on both occasions she went for a takedown, easily dominating her challenger on the mat as well.
In the second round however, that domination turned into an outright execution as Shevchenko went for Jessica's head. Quite literally.
After having tenderized Eye's midsection with several vicious body kicks in the opening round, Shevchenko once again looked for the rear kick from her southpaw stance in the early stages of the second round - except this time, she brought the kick up high.
Eye instinctively lowered her guard to try to defend her midsection, only to have Valentina's shin clang off the side of her face. Eye's lifeless body collapsed to the canvas and she stayed down for several minutes - though she had never been knocked out before and had shown a resilient chin in the past, nobody is going to stay conscious if they take a full-power rear-leg roundhouse to the cheek.
Unlike many of the entries on this list, the finish here was not at all surprising - yet even then, the viciousness of the finish made it a truly memorable knockout regardless.
1. Holly Holm's destruction of Ronda Rousey
Turning our attention to another execution, Holly Holm's dismantling of Ronda Rousey was memorable not only for being a disgustingly brutal finish, but for the fact that she came in as a major underdog when Rousey-mania was at its height.
As mentioned earlier, Rousey's athleticism and punching power had fooled not only many casual fans, but even seasoned vets like Joe Rogan into believing Ronda was a good striker. After her flatlining of Bethe Correia, much of the world was convinced Rousey was a nigh-unbeatable destroyer of worlds.
Unfortunately for Ronda, she would be paired up with someone that could legitimately strike in her next fight, and unlike many of her other opponents (read: all of them) could keep her composure well enough to avoid being bullrushed into the clinch by Rousey's hyper-aggressive and straightforward flurries.
Enter "The Preacher's Daughter", Holly Holm.
Beginning her career by competing in both kickboxing and boxing in New Mexico, Holm would soon turn her full attention to the more lucrative boxing world as she rose up the ranks on the regional circuit. There, she racked up a highly impressive 33-2-3 record and captured multiple world titles over the next decade, avenging both of her losses and leaving the sport while being regarded as one of the best female boxers to ever compete.
A longtime disciple of famous MMA striking coach Mike Winkeljohn, Holm dabbled in MMA for a pair of bouts in 2011 before leaving her boxing gloves behind for good and transitioning to mixed martial arts full time in 2013.
Ironically, despite her boxing credentials it was her kicking game which proved most deadly as she racked up seven wins on the regional scene with six knockouts - five of those finishes stemmed not from her hands, but from kicks.
Her boxing pedigree and impressive transition to MMA earned her a call up to the UFC, where the hype around her signing soon stalled.
Her first fight saw her pick up a close split decision victory over Raquel Pennington - rather than seeing the finisher from her prior MMA highlight reel, fans were disappointed to see a tentative, conservative Holm in the cage, but most chalked it up to the fact it was her first time in the world famous Octagon.
Her second outing however once again resulted in a lackluster and tentative affair, with Holm picking up another decision, this time over Marion Reneau.
Despite her rather unimpressive UFC performances, Holm's perfect 9-0 MMA record and world class boxing background still made her the top choice for a title shot given that Rousey had already beaten the rest of the contenders in the division. Unfortunately for Rousey and the UFC, Holm was Rousey's stylistic kryptonite.
To say that Holly picked Ronda apart would be an understatement - she made "the female Mike Tyson" look downright foolish. Holm may have been a massive underdog thanks to the surreal hype surrounding Rousey's "striking", but Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas this was not; instead, it was an absolute master class on the importance of footwork, sound defense, and how to counter over-aggressive opponents.
The one area that even fans that had wisely bet big on Holm were afraid of was the clinch - if Rousey was able to get Holm in close, there her judo would put Holm at a massive disadvantage and while Holm had shown some solid takedown defense in her MMA outings, she hadn't faced a really good wrestler or judoka before.
Luckily Holm had done her homework, and the few times Rousey did manage to lock up with the challenger, Holm was able to defend or quickly disengage from the grappling realm. This left Rousey completely out of her element and without any other gameplan or the skills to implement one, she had only one option - keep bullrushing until either it worked or she couldn't do it anymore.
Rousey's entire "striking" game was built around getting to clinch to where she had the upper hand - admittedly, it was quite effective against the competition she was facing. Rousey would simply charge forward pumping her hands at her opponent until they collided and she could establish a clinch position. Her opponents, without fail, would fall into the trap of standing their ground and looking to land a heavy right on Rousey as she recklessly charged in.
This tactic did actually work in some respect, as you'll note her opponents almost always managed to land a shot or two on Rousey as she charged in, but given the lack of stopping power they all possessed, Rousey was willing to simply eat what came back in order to gain a favourable position.
That strategy may work wonders against lesser competition, but against a well-trained boxer who knows how to circle out, it's effectively suicidal.
As a result, the first round was an absolute schooling as Holm busted up the champion's face with lancing southpaw straights and nifty stepping elbows. The second was more of the same until Holm decided it was time to put Rousey out of her misery.
After another left straight wobbled Rousey as she attempted to clinch, Ronda was awkwardly fumbling around after failing to grab onto Holm and initiate a clinch, turning her back for a moment as she caught herself to remain upright; as she turned to face Holm again, her face was greeted by a head kick straight from hell.
Rousey's head bounced off the canvas as she fell, two extra shots hammering her lifeless face for good measure. As much as it wasn't surprising for some to see Rousey's striking exposed for what it really was, nobody could have predicted the brutal schooling that would occur.
Such a savage knockout would normally warrant some sympathy for the poor fighter on the receiving end, but given Rousey's antics in the past (not to mention her actions following the loss), it's one of those rare knockouts that can bring a smile to any MMA fans' face in an instant regardless of how brutal it may be.
Amanda Nunes battering Ronda Rousey
Holly Holm head kicking Bethe Correia
Ronda Rousey rolling through Alexis Davis
Weili Zhang running through Jessica Andrade