The knockout is one of the more puzzling aspects of a fight. Some fighters can do it whenever they want, others when chance or luck gives them the opportunity, and some never have that joy. It can come from wearing down an opponent, or out of nowhere like a magic trick. No matter how it happens, we all love it and poop our pants when we see it happen. During our Old School MMA Review videos, we saw plenty of historical head traumas happen, and now we have to choose one to say which was the best ever.
As a rule of thumb, we at the OSMMA Review care not for technicalities such as TKO or KO - we just like it when one guy gets hit in the head and takes a nap. So, without further ado, here are the nominees for Best Knockout!
Remco Pardoel VS Orlando Wiet - UFC 2 was the largest one-night tournament that the promotion ever did. Featuring 16 fighters instead of eight, there were plenty of great moments that never made it to air because of time constraints. Orlando Wiet's beatdown of Robert Lucarelli was one of them, as the Muay Thai fighter showed off his striking skills in the prelims of the show. He was met in the next round by Dutch Judoka, Remco Pardoel, who had a tough first fight that went nearly 10 minutes.
It was Muay Thai VS Judo, and thanks to his weight advantage, Judo won the day. Pardoel got Wiet on the ground, and once he secured his opponent in a scarf hold, Remco dropped elbows onto his face until he stopped moving. It was an ugly knockout, and it deserves its place among the most brutal early UFC KO's.
Pat Smith VS Scott Morris - UFC 2 also saw the return of Pat Smith, the man who submitted to Ken Shamrock in the first event. Smith came back much more prepared, and made it all the way to the finals of the event. En route to that spot, he had to get through Ninjitsu fighter Scott Morris, and get through him is exactly what Smith did. The kickboxer wasted no time in this match, clinching with Morris and getting him to the ground, where Smith unleashed a bunch of downward elbows to the head followed by powerful left and rights until Morris wasn't moving and had a face that looked like a heap of ground beef. Smith punctuated his return to everyone in attendance that night, leaving a statement that said he came to win... even though Royce Gracie had other plans for him.
Harold Howard VS Roland Payne - The third UFC event introduced us to Harold Howard, a man who has garnered far more nominations in these awards then he probably should have. Howard had the luck of facing a Muay Thai fighter who would win the award for "Best name ever" if we had that - Roland Payne. The fight was an insane brawl that ended when Howard caught Payne with a powerful right hook that sent him reeling backwards and falling to the mat. Howard went to jump on top to finish him off but Big John intervened and saved Payne from getting hurt even worse. Say what you will about Howard's antics later in the night and his bizarre promo, he still had some real punching power in those hands of his.
Gary Goodridge VS Paul Herrera - Puerto Rico was the location of UFC 8, which featured the "David VS Goliath" tournament, where all of the opening round brackets featured huge weight discrepancies between fighters. In the most even-weighted match of this opening round, Arm-wrestling champ and alleged Kuk Sool Won black belt Gary Goodridge was set to face Paul Herrera, an All-American wrestler from the University of Nebraska and two-time Judo champ.
As the story goes, Goodridge and his team scouted what Herrera was looking to do to him, so they spent the night working on a counter. As the fight happened, Herrera did exactly what Goodridge had hoped he would do - shoot for a takedown. Not really knowing how to sprawl yet, Goodridge had an unorthodox counter of his own ready to use. Gary hooked the arms of Herrera with his arms and legs, put him in a crucifix position, and rained down elbows until the referee mercifully ended the fight. Herrera was unconscious pretty early on, and was out for some time after, leaving Goodridge the winner after 13 seconds and giving him one of the greatest KO's in UFC history.
Don Frye VS Thomas Ramirez - Also making his debut at UFC 8 was Don Frye, an EMT with an extensive background in wrestling and boxing. As opposed to Goodridge, who was only barely the big man in this tournament, Frye was the "David" compared to his "Goliath" opponent of Thomas Ramirez. 400 lbs. and undefeated in street fights (according to the same people that said Tank Abbott was a pit fighter), Sanchez walked out to the center of the cage with his hands up and his chin out. It took eight seconds and two punches to drop Sanchez and knock him out cold, giving Frye one of the easiest wins of the night, and a debut equally as impressive as Goodridge had.
Tank Abbott VS John Matua - The UFC was busy building up Dan Severn as their top good guy, but they needed a bad guy for him to contend with. Enter David "Tank" Abbott, a bar-brawler with a background in wrestling, and a salty attitude to match his grizzled look. Abbott debuted at UFC 6 against John Matua, who was a practitioner of Kapu Kuialau, the "Hawaiian art of bone breaking." Matua never got a chance to break any of his opponents bones, as Tank came forward with his guns blazing and knocked out Matua so hard that he began to have a seizure in the middle of the cage. To add insult to injury, while Big John McCarthy checked on Matua, Tank mimicked the motions of his downed opponent before walking away to celebrate the win.
Tank Abbott VS Steve Nelmark - Tank is the only fighter who gets two nominations on the same list because so many of his early fights ended in a spectacular fashion. Tank had some time away from the UFC thanks to legal trouble (AKA getting into a fight) with the powers-that-be, but when he returned, he was ready to show off his new skills. At the Ultimate Ultimate 1996, Tank was on his way towards the finals when he was matched against Steve Nelmark. An alternate for Ken Shamrock, Nelmark was not afraid to brawl with Abbott... that would be his last mistake. A minute after the bell rang, Nelmark was knocked out so hard with a signature Abbott hook, that he slumped against the cage with his body looking half-broken. And that, kids, is the story of how the term "Nelmarked" came to be - let's start using it again (as in, "Melvin Manhoef got Nelmarked by Joe Schiling at Bellator 131").
Thanks to June M. Williams for our Awards graphics.
Place your vote by writing in the comments, and let us know why you made your decision. Best answers will get read during our OSMMA Review Award Show episode!
"The OSMMA Review Awards, Volume 1" only represents UFC 1 through Ultimate Ultimate 1996, so remember that when placing your vote, as anything other than what was listed in the categories will be ignored, and the voter shall be promptly flogged. Stay constantly vigilant as more categories become announced, or take a peek at the stream to make sure you placed your vote in all twelve categories!