Today we are throwing it back to some rare and unorthodox highlight reel finishes. Two of those stoppages were delivered by fighters who are now considered two of the greatest to ever enter the Octagon.
March 21, 2015: Amanda Nunes defeats Shayna Baszler via leg kick TKO
Leg kick TKOs are rare and precious things in MMA. When we think of brutal leg kicks our minds automatically go to Brazilian strikers Edson Barboza and Jose Aldo. But on this day we are celebrating another Brazilian, Amanda Nunes, who — since 2015 — has turned herself into one of the greatest fighters on the planet.
In early 2015 very few people guessed that the Lioness was destined to become a two division champ. She had just been TKO’d by Cat Zingano, moving her pro record to 9-4. At UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Leflare, held in Rio de Janeiro, Nunes was paired against another fighter coming off of a loss. Shayna Baszler was beaten by Bethe Correia in her first Octagon appearance since graduating from The Ultimate Fighter.
Both fighters were in desperate need of a win. On this night that W would go to the Brazilian. Watch below to see how Nunes was able to beat Baszler with a leg kick, two minutes into the first round.
Here’s how Dallas Winston called the action for Bloody Elbow back then:
R1: Nunes cracks Baszler with an overhand right. Nunes plunges a front kick to the body and follows with a two-piece combo that wobbles Baszler, who shoots a desperation takedown. No dice on the single leg and Nunes chops away with a nasty low kick, and Baszler winces and drops in agony. Mario Yamasaki has to exert some extra effort in pulling Nunes off, and scolds her after the stoppage for the unnecessary strikes.
This fight was a turning point in Nunes’ career — she hasn’t lost since. After beating Baszler she choked out Sara McMann and then won a close decision over Valentina Shevchenko. Then, at UFC 200, she beat Meisha Tate for the UFC bantamweight title. After that she destroyed Ronda Rousey in less than a minute. She would do something similar to Cris Cyborg two years later, claiming the UFC featherweight title and erasing any doubts over how special she was.
After her loss to Nunes, Baszler left the UFC. She lost to Reina Miura in Japan and then transitioned to professional wrestling, where she has excelled.
March 21, 2015: Godofredo Pepey scores a flying triangle submission
The same night Nunes beat Baszler there was another unusual highlight reel finish. This time it featured TUF Brazil vet Godofredo Pepey (who has been on both ends of highlight reel finishes during his career).
In his bout with Andre Fili, Pepey was able to pull off the rarely seen flying triangle. Here’s Dallas Winston’s live breakdown of what went down:
R1: Pepey leads with a flying knee and a wild overhand right. Sharp inside low kick lands for Pepey, who then ducks a punch and snatches a single leg. Fili defends and circles Pepey onto the fence. Pepey goes balls-out and pulls a flying armbar, then switches to a triangle when he hits the floor. He locks the triangle and picks Fili’s ankle to take him off his feet, then switches angles to tighten the hold. Fili bravely stays alive with patience and technique, and seems to have stabilized himself despite the choke being locked. Pepey changes angles again and this time coaxes the tapout.
Also at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LeFlare, Demian Maia took a unanimous decision in the headliner, Gilbert Burns tapped Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira and Erick Silva choked out Josh Koscheck.
March 21, 2010: Jon Jones TKOs Brandon Vera at UFC on Versus 1
A couple of days ago we were reminiscing about Jon Jones winning his first UFC title vesus Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. In order to earn his shot at the title, which came on March 19th, 2011, Jones went on a three fight stoppage streak that began with a win over the more experienced Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera.
Jones came into his fight with Vera off the heels of his only ‘loss’ in MMA; a DQ versus Matt Hammill at the TUF: Heavyweights finale in 2009. Against Vera, in the headline spot, Jones showed he could finish a fight with strictly legal elbows.
Jones vs. Vera didn’t make it out of the first round, with Jones getting the finish after some vicious ground and pound. The ground assault resulted in a broken orbital bone for Vera.
On the call for Bloody Elbow back then was Brent Brookhouse. Check out what how he saw it below:
Jon Jones vs. Brandon Vera - Round 1- Jones with a leg kick and then a trip takedown within 10 seconds. Vera has full guard and is looking to control the head of Jones. Vera gets the feet on the hips and kicks off to get back to standing. Back to the clinch and Vera eats a knee to the body and gets taken down again. Back to Vera’s full guard. Left hand by Jones now. Illegal upkick by Vera lands and Jones is upset and grabbing his jaw. The action is stopped so Jones can recover. Herb Dean takes a point from Vera and puts him right back on his back to restart the fight. Elbow by Vera from the bottom. Jones working short elbows to the body. Vera’s legs are getting high as he’s looking to catch something. Jones with a few elbows A couple of which land hard, Vera turns over and eats a few punches and it’s all over! The fight is stopped. Wow, that’s a really shocking end to the fight. Jon Jones wins by TKO (strikes), round 1.