Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor is one of my favorite knockouts of all time. It was quick, decisive, brutal and rare. The rare part is its location. It’s one of few knockouts that I can remember that happened right in the middle of the cage. Conor McGregor’s fist lands on Aldo’s chin right when Aldo’s head is above the middle point of the Octagon.
Since McGregor’s knockout at UFC 194, there have been a lot of KO’s while exchanging on the feet. Some like McGregor’s KO happened right in the middle of the cage. But oddly enough, most of the mid-cage KO’s are kicks and knees. For some reason, the center of the cage is a really popular place for fighters to land a KO kick.
Holly Holm stopped Bethe Correia with a high kick, Donald Cerrone almost kicked Matt Brown’s head off, Diego Rivas KO’d Noad Lahat in the middle of the cage, Joanne Calderwood stopped Valérie Létourneau, Marlon Vera retired Brad Pickett with a kick in the center.
If you’re a fighter, don’t let your guard down in the middle of the cage because you might get kicked. Just outside of the center is where a lot of knockout punches happen. This is where a lot of striking exchanges and battles for control take place, so it makes sense. The area just outside of the painted mini-Octagon is a safer place to fight, other than a particular spot in the left corner (around 8 o’clock). A lot of kicks and knees have happened here.
Ed Herman KO’d Tim Boetsch from the clinch here. That’s also where Whittaker high-kicked Derek Brunson. The Whittaker KO is a difficult one to track though, and it’s what made this whole thing difficult to put together. Twenty seconds before this kick, Whittaker tagged Brunson with a jab while going backwards. It rocked Brunson, and he was soon laid out by the high kick. Plotting the exact point where a KO or fight ending strike landed on the feet was tough.
Here are the general rules I went by when plotting the knockouts. You can read it if you want, but it’s a bit tedious. Basically, if you hear Joe Rogan scream and say, “OHHH, THAT’S IT!”, then I probably counted the KO right there.
Hutch’s Rules of Marking A KO Strike on the Feet
If a fighter was KO’d by one shot, I counted where the strike landed.
If a fighter was wobbled and then KO’d, I counted where the fighter was wobbled or knocked down:
Unless, the fighter regained his composure, put his hands up and moved forward.
Or, there was a 1 shot clear KO a second or two later. I then counted that spot.
I didn’t not count TKO finishes that occurred from a sustained beat down over the course of a fight.
I am strictly highlighting the 1 big shot that either suddenly ended the fight or was the beginning of the end.
Back to the cage
Getting back to the cage, we can see that being near the fence is not a good idea. Even fighters pressed up against the cage can deliver a knockout bomb. But more times than not, a fighter that has been backed up against the cage is the one getting KO’d.
There are other oddities. It seems like the bottom of the cage is a more popular area for knockouts. There are hot spots all around the cage where KO’s consistently happen in the same areas, yet spots where KO’s don’t really occur at all. This is especially true for kicks, which seem to happen in similar areas.
There are 155 knockouts listed here. That’s a lot of knockouts, but still a small sample size, so there’s still a lot of data to be plotted. There are some small takeaways from this data, but nothing that we can say shows a definitive trend. This is a good first look though at where fighters are more susceptible to KO’s. In order to get a more clear picture, we’ll have add KO’s from before UFC 194.
That’ll have to wait for another day, as going back and watching 155 KO’s and plotting where they took place takes an immense amount of time. I’ll tackle KO’s from 2015 and 2014 in the coming months.