Contrary to popular belief, there is no Year Zero. Decades run from XXX1 to XX10. So while other MMA sites erroneously ran decade retrospectives last year, Bloody Elbow stayed the course of truth and fact. We polled the staff for their picks in a variety of topics covering the first decade of the third millennium A.D. Here's what they had to say.
Kid Nate: Gabriel Gonzaga KTFO'ing Mirko "Cro Cop" Filopovic was more than just an amazing highlight for the ages, it was also the symbolic death of Pride and the end of an era in MMA. Cro Cop's left high kick had been the signature knock out blow of the Pride era and to see him hoisted on his own petard by a jiu jitsu stylist perfectly encapsulated the way the MMA world had been upended by the collapse of Pride and the rise of the Zuffa era UFC.
Brent Brookhouse: For the domino effect it created I'll go with Rampage knocking out Chuck Liddell. The light heavyweight division lost all sense of stability from that point onward. Liddell had successfully defended the title he won four times from April ‘05 to December ‘06. Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua have combined for two successful title defenses from that point to today. Honorable mention to Gonzaga KO'ing Cro Cop.
Mike Fagan: I watched UFC 71 in a secluded sports bar in Johnsburg, Illinois. My buddy was the only non-white person in the bar, and we were the only Quinton Jackson fans within a 5-mile radius. When Jackson knocked out Chuck Liddell with a picture-perfect right hook, we were the lone hands raised in victory among a sea of melted sorrows. There are few things in life more satisfying than enjoying the schadenfreude of a room full of disappointed quasi-rednecks.
Scott Haber: Because this knockout wasn't just a singular moment, but rather a catalyst that set off a chain reaction, I have to go with Rashad Evans KOing Chuck Liddell at UFC 88. Chuck was the legend that knocked people out, not vice-versa, and Rashad was supposed to be a boring wrestler. Nearly everyone agreed in the lead-up to this fight that Rashad was tailor-made for Chuck to knock his head off. No one saw this coming. Rashad frustrated Chuck with footwork for the first round and when he finally had the Iceman's timing down in the second round, he landed the overhand right head ‘round the world. Not only did Rashad KO Chuck Liddell like no one had before (and yes, I think Chuck face-down, snoring, was far more brutal than what Rampage did to him), but he finally shattered the proverbial iron shield on Chuck's chin. Since then, Chuck has become an easy KO target and whereas before this fight, Chuck was both a legend and a legitimate contender, he has now been reduced to a sad shell of his former self in the eyes of many a fan.
Jonathan Snowden: It only took Phil Baroni 18 seconds to hit poor Dave Menne what looked like 100 times at UFC 39. Most of the damage came while the former UFC middleweight champion teetered on the cage, just waiting for the New York Bad Ass to stop punching so he could fall down already. No one remembers how fearsome Baroni was in his prime. A great knockout.
Chris Barton: Another "emotion over reason" pick from me. Wanderlei Silva KOs Kazushi Sakuraba at PRIDE 13 - Collision Course. Yes there are more "highlight reel" style knockouts, in their own trilogy no less, but this one meant the most. The two things that define this as the KO of the decade for me are that Sakuraba is the greatest of all time and Wand was a huge underdog in this fight. Saku stood with him and knocked him down, one dose of legendary recovery and two doses of unchecked aggression later and Saku was done. In the end Saku gave Silva his SAKU belt and the knockout effectively ended an era.