It took about as long to write this sentence as it did for Jorge Masvidal to knock out Ben Askren. Five seconds. It took five seconds for Masvidal to sprint across the cage, throw a flying knee and begin his post-knockout taunts after winning a nasty war of words and handing Askren the first loss of his career.
Askren entered the fight with a 19-0 record and a resume as a former Olympic wrestler and former Bellator and ONE champion. Masvidal was a fan favorite fighter who hadn’t reached the pinnacle of the sport but had picked up more than a few tricks in his lengthy career.
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Rather than allow Askren to engage in a wrestling match, Masvidal had decided in training —— he would open the fight with the big risk of a running flying knee. As he ran forward at the opening bell, Askren ducked down, wrestling instincts kicking in. Masvidal jumped and launched his knee into Askren’s skull, immediately ending the fight — though Masvidal did land a few punches for good measure — and .
Naming this the finish of the year in the sport was, as Masvidal would say, super necessary.
2. Niko Price KOs James Vick (Upkick)
at the highest levels of the fight game. Vick got careless in an attempt to move into the guard of Price and paid for it. Price’s right heel smashed into Vick’s face, leading him to collapse on top of Price. Price continued landing punches until referee Herb Dean realized Vick had been knocked out cold by the kick. Replays of the blow revealed how sickeningly loud the shot was.
3. Valentina Shevchenko KOs Jessica Eye (Head kick)
Eye managed to find consistent success for the first time in her lengthy UFC career when she moved to the flyweight division. A run of success led her to a shot at the flyweight title, held by Shevchenko. Things took a violent turn in the second round of the fight whenin the history of UFC women’s MMA. It was a picture-perfect left head kick that landed to the face of Eye with a sickening smack and immediately ended the fight, further cementing the champ’s legacy.
4. Justin Gaethje KOs Edson Barboza (Punch)
Gaethje and Barboza brought the kind of action you’d expect from two striking experts. Exchanges of heavy punches were spiced up by hard leg kick attacks from both men. There was enough action packed in to the fight to fill a full three-round fight for other men, though the finish came at the 2:30 mark of Round 1. As Barboza pulled out of an exchange,, sending Barboza crashing the canvas to bring the fight to a close.
5. Jessica Andrade TKOs Rose Namajunas (Slam)
Namajunas had cruised through the opening round of her strawweight title defense against Andrade. Needing to make a change in approach for Round 2, Andrade looked to take the fight to the ground. She got in deep on a takedown attempt and lifted Andrade high into the air. It was actually her second slam attempt of the fight. While the initial attempt almost landed her in a fight ending submission, the second sent, knocking her out and handing Andrade the title.
Honorable mentions: Jorge Masvidal TKO Darren Till, Douglas Lima KO Michael “Venom” Page (uppercut), Amanda Nunes TKO Holly Holm (head kick), Kevin Lee KO Gregor Gillespie (head kick)