TOP 5 most vicious UFC knockouts of 2022

The UFC delivered yet another year of scorching MMA action in 2022. Combat sports fans were treated to some truly spectacular fights and finishes this past year, including some jaw-dropping stoppages, and in this case, some jaw-cracking knockouts.

With the level of striking continuing to improve across the board with every passing year, fans can expect even more shocking knockouts that momentarily turn the MMA world on its head. As we head into 2023, we thought we’d look back on some of the most memorable finishes of the year.

On that note, here are the five most vicious knockouts of 2022.

#5. Jamahal Hill def. Johnny Walker – UFC Vegas 48

Ranked light heavyweight contenders Jamahal Hill and Johnny Walker squared off in the headliner of UFC Vegas 48 at the Apex facility in Las Vegas. Walker was looking to return to winning ways following his defeat to Thiago Santos, while Hill came into the fight eyeing a spot in the top ten of the 205-pound rankings.

Both fighters’ penchant for highlight-reel finishes guaranteed that their matchup would deliver the goods.

In the opening minute of the fight, Jamahal Hill took control of the center of the cage, forcing Johnny Walker onto his back foot. Walker evaded most of Hill’s offense in the early going and even landed a few decent combinations of his own.

Hill then switched his stance and landed a perfectly-timed overhand right, sending Walker crashing down to the canvas. ‘Sweet Dreams’ landed a few follow-up strikes before the referee called a halt to the action.

With his knockout victory over Johnny Walker, Jamahal Hill advanced his professional record to 10-1 and broke into the top 10 of the 205-pound division.

The American’s jaw-dropping finish served as a real statement of intent, allowing him to further solidify his standing as one of the most intriguing contenders in the division. He subsequently picked up a TKO win over Thiago Santos and will now contest the vacant championship in the first pay-per-view of 2023.

#4. Molly McCann def. Luana Carolina – UFC London

Before signing with the UFC, Molly McCann had four knockout wins on her professional record. Upon joining the global MMA leader, the Liverpool native struggled to put away her opponents and largely relied on her volume striking to outpoint her opponents.

All of her victories in the UFC prior to March 2022 came via decision and that streak was broken at UFC London, where she squared off against Luana Carolina.

McCann started the fight as she always does, overwhelming Carolina with persistent forward pressure throughout the opening round. She seemingly slowed down in the second but finished the round with a takedown.

In the final frame, Carolina engaged in a clinch with McCann, using her taller frame to hold down the Brit. ‘Meatball’ gained some separation and uncorked a picture-perfect spinning elbow, putting Carolina to sleep and sending the raucous crowd in attendance into a frenzy.

#3. Zhang Weili def. Joanna Jędrzejczyk – UFC 275

Back in early 2020, when Zhang Weili was the reigning 115-pound queen and former titleholder Joanna Jędrzejczyk was looking to reclaim the belt she lost a few years prior, the strawweight duo combined to deliver the greatest women’s fight in promotional history.

Weili came out on top on the night, coming away with a razor-thin split decision win. Two years after their five-round barnburner, Jędrzejczyk returned to the octagon to run it back with her former foe, with huge championship implications on the line.

Before the bout, Dana White stated that the victor will fight strawweight titleholder Carla Esparza next. With such high stakes, Weili and Jędrzejczyk picked up where they left off and the striking exchanges in the first round of the rematch were reminiscent of their initial clash.

Weili finished the opening round strong, using her much-improved wrestling to stifle Jędrzejczyk’s pressure. In the second frame, ‘Magnum’ uncorked a picture-perfect spinning back fist which saw Jędrzejczyk fall face-first into the canvas.

Weili Zhang earned a title shot with her incredible finish and went on to beat Carla Esparza to re-claim her belt. Joanna Jędrzejczyk, on the other hand, opted to hang up her gloves, drawing curtains on a historic and hugely influential run in the UFC.

#2. Michael Chandler def. Tony Ferguson – UFC 274

At UFC 274, Michael Chandler took on Tony Ferguson in a highly anticipated lightweight matchup, with both fighters looking to snap their losing skids and return to the win column.

Ferguson, in particular, was in desperate need of a win, with his last triumph coming back in 2019 against Donald Cerrone. Unfortunately for ‘El Cucuy’, he suffered the worst loss of his career, coming out on the wrong end of a sure-fire Knockout of the Year contender.

Ferguson performed admirably in the first round as he dropped Chandler with a left hook and even sliced open a cut under the former Bellator champion’s eye.

However, just 17 seconds into the second round, Ferguson found himself backpedaling as Chandler came forward and, out of nowhere, unleashed a front-kick. ‘El Cucuy’ faceplanted into the mat after getting caught flush under his chin, while his counterpart celebrated emphatically.

At the post-fight presser, Dana White hailed Chandler’s knockout as “the most vicious” one he’d ever seen.

#1. Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman – UFC 278

Leon Edwards picked up the only loss of his UFC career way back in 2015, when he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Kamaru Usman. Both 170-pounders went on scorching runs after this bout, with Usman going on to win the title and defend it five times, while Edwards endured an unfortunate run of bad luck.

Edwards compiled a 10-fight unbeaten streak after his loss to Usman and arguably deserved a title shot back in 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent government-imposed lockdowns forced the Englishman to remain on the sidelines while the reigning champion repeatedly defended his title.

After his unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz last year, the UFC finally gave Edwards his title shot. ‘Rocky’ finally got his crack at undisputed gold at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City, where he ran it back with Usman, the consensus pound-for-pound king.

Leon Edwards looked sensational in the first round. He looked comfortable on the feet and even landed a takedown on the champion. However, as the fight went on, the Brit started to fatigue.

Due to high altitude conditions in Salt Lake City, multiple fighters were seemingly struggling with their cardio on the night. Edwards was clearly feeling it as well, and by the end of the fourth round, he looked both exhausted and dejected.

Usman’s superior wrestling shone through in the middle rounds and it felt as though Edwards was en route to another decision loss to ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’. With just under a minute left in the fight, ‘Rocky’ stunned the crowd in attendance and the entire sporting world as he knocked Usman out cold with a stunning head kick.

Leon Edwards’ shocking KO sent shockwaves throughout the combat sports world and will forever be regarded among the most significant knockouts in MMA history.

Considering his tumultuous background, the lack of respect from fans, the hurdles he had to overcome, the caliber of fighter he beat and the manner in which he did it, ‘Rocky’s title-winning finish ranks among the greatest head-kicks, comebacks, and knockouts of all time.

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