2011 has been a huge year for MMA, both in terms of growth and the sheer entertainment value of the fights that have been waged. Over the next week, FightLine will take a look at the best performances turned in over the last year before the apocalypse.
Knockout of the Year
The honor of Knockout of the Year goes to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva for his spectacular front kick knockout of fellow Brazilian striking expert Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 back in February.
In his first fight back since being made to look human by Chael Sonnen, many believed that Silva would face a difficult battle against Belfort, a man cast as possibly the only striking equal to The Spider in the 185lbs. division. Stoked by a shared past which Silva felt Belfort disrespected by dropping to his division to challenge for his belt, it was evident at the weigh-ins (if it wasn’t before) that The Spider was fired up, more than usual.
What happened on fight night was as clear a display of Silva’s dominance and technical potency as has ever been seen inside the Octagon. After a few brief engagements and scrambles, the two set up across from each other, with Belfort standing still just long enough for Silva to fire off a spring-coiled rear leg front kick. Playing off of the standard front kick, which is shot straight outward and used to disrupt an opponent’s rhythm, Silva shot his foot upward into Belfort’s jaw before he knew what hit him, the kick dropping him like a sniper’s shot.
The follow-up ground and pound was academic, Silva had shot Belfort’s consciousness through the roof of the Mandalay Bay. For the sheer, stark brutality of the kick and the countless imitators the move has spawned, Silva takes KO of the Year.
-Chan Sung Jung, for his seven-second knockout of noted striker Mark Hominick earlier this month at UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida.
-Lyoto Machida, for his crane kick knockout of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture back at UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields.
-Carlos Condit, for his flying knee knockout of Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber 2.
-Nick Diaz, for his knock-down, drag-out one-round war with Paul Daley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley.
Check out a video of Anderson Silva’s crushing front kick KO below.