The MMA Movement's 4th Annual Year End Awards: The KO's

Check it, folks!

I haven’t posted an article since October 29th. This is due to a variety of reasons, but in my defense, it feels like about a week and a half has passed. This happens every year; Halloween happens, then I blink twice and it’s time to bang out my annual year end awards. Which is fine, really. I love writing these, and I love that people read them. Lists! How bout ‘em?

(As always, I will accept all arguments for snubs, and counter arguments against whatever I pick as the KO/sub/fight of the year. This is open for discussion. There’s a reason I didn’t rank everything. You can create a list that doesn’t drown in it’s own minutia by simply not doing rankings. Being in the discussion is what counts here.)

2014 was a fantastic year for knockouts, and I mean "knockouts" in the purest sense of the word. There were boatloads of times where guys found themselves face to face with a naked Indian in the desert, and whittling this list down to a reasonably-timed read is going to be difficult. I’ll try to keep it in the "one solid bowel movement" range.

Before I begin, a few honorable mentions: Big Country finally taking Big Nog out back and shooting him in the head for good (In a troublesome year for Brazilian legends, this moment of euthanasia stands out as particularly sobering); Albert Tumenov vs. Matt Dwyer (Matt Dwyer isn’t super skilled or anything, but the fact is, he’s a head taller than Tumenov. They had one of the most ludicrous weigh in photos ever. It looked like a grown man was about to fight a 7th grader who had just sprouted his first pube. And Tumenov went upside his head twice. Twice!); Marcus Brimage vs. Jumabieke Tuerxun (Brimage sliced through Juma’s face like a Goddamn Slap Chop)

Onto the brain rattlers …

Daron Cruickshank def. Erik Koch @ UFC Fight Night 40

Double headkick alert! Cruickshank grazed Koch with a right kick upstairs, then followed up immediately with a left headkick that found it’s target. A maniacal flurry of ground strikes followed, and that was a wrap for Erik Koch, once considered a can’t miss featherweight prospect. Now, he’s getting wiped out, losing 3 of his last 4. In Koch’s defense, he always seems to get hit with hellacious shots. It seems like he’s been running into the best possible version of his opponents. Ricardo Lamas scored his signature win over Koch, ripping open his face and brutalizing it with elbows on national TV. Dustin Poirier just laid a schoolyard ass kicking down on Erik. And then, this. Poor Erik Koch. He’s still a very skilled guy, and he’s only 26. Let’s not wave the white flag for him yet.

It was a pretty good year for Cruickshank, as he won 3 out of 4, 2 in spectacular fashion. Thumbs up to "The Detroit Superstar", or as I call him, "The Pride of Chernobyl".

Johnny Eduardo def. Eddie Wineland @ UFC Fight Night 40

Tons of violence on that Cincinnati card, huh? That was the card that Matt Brown took Erick Silva’s life. Ugh.

Anyway, hell of a knockout here for Johnny Eduardo, just your typical everyday 36 year old Nova Uniao product who’s been fighting pro for 18 years and was coming off a nearly two year layoff. Totally the kind of guy you’d expect to come in and plunk a perennial contender.


Yup. This wasn’t a fluke knockout, either. Eduardo showed a speed advantage early, lured Wineland into an exchange, and obliterated him with a counter right hand over the top. He made Wineland do the "wacky inflatable arm flailing tubeman" before running in and landing a crushing follow up right hand for good measure.

Where’s Johnny Eduardo, Sean Shelby? Break him out of that fire extinguisher case you have him concealed in and match him up with more good bantamweights. This guy has something special for dudes on the feet.

Ronda Rousey def. Alexis Davis @ UFC 175

Sixteen seconds.

Damacio Page def. Brian Hall @ Legacy FC 36

Super slo-mo …

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via YouTube

… pineboxed. *in Bruce Beck voice* Our thoughts are with Brian Hall right now …

Josh Samman vs. Eddie Gordon @ UFC 181

Eddie Gordon made that face people you can’t trust make right after you ask them how their marriage is going.

Mike Wilkinson vs. Niklas Backstrom @ UFC Fight Night 53

This was your classic "Up-and-coming fighter gets a favorable matchup to look awesome in front of his home crowd" scenario … what could go wrong?

Well, it’s probably not a good idea to throw the laziest front kick this side of Nick Diaz with your hands down on a guy who’s already clearly pissed off that everyone in the building thinks he doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of winning. Uppsy daisy! We even got the obligatory moment where the ref takes 0.9 seconds too long to realize that the fight’s over, and during that time Wilkinson dribbles his head off the canvas like Muggsy Bogues.

Come back stronger, Niklas. And less lazy.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway @ UFC in Macau

This one does it for me, and it’s a totally biased pick for KO of the Year because I’ve always immensely enjoyed watching Kim fight. But to watch him make a conscious decision to change the way he fights, and then to follow through on that decision by knocking out a very good fighter with a low percentage technique was something special. Sure, he got brutally finished in his next fight because of this change of heart, but still. Let the record show that this one was scintillating. John Hathaway might still be asleep on the canvas in Macau. Long live Dong Hyun Kim.

Subs of the year coming tomorrow.