When Yair Rodriguez knocked out Chan Sung Jung within the ultimate seconds of UFC Battle Evening: Denver this previous weekend, the MMA world exploded. Rodriguez’s elbow landed squarely with Jung’s chin, sending him straight to the mat. It was the top of an epic back-and-forth battle that headlined the UFC’s 25th anniversary card.
Was it one of the best knockout within the historical past of the UFC? The case may be made, although you can also for a mess of different finishes. ESPN’s MMA crew — Brett Okamoto, Ariel Helwani, Jeff Wagenheim, Phil Murphy and Eric Tamiso — gave their choose of one of the best ever.
Okamoto: Yair Rodriguez elbow in opposition to Chan Sung Jung at UFC Battle Evening: Denver
I used to be lucky sufficient to be on press row for Saturday’s knockout and, naturally, that was one of many conversations that got here up between journalists, UFC employees, fighters, managers, and so on. after the occasion. Was Rodriguez’s knockout one of the best of all time?
And for me, it was. It’s a must to take every thing under consideration. The absurd, technical issue of the knockout. The actual fact it occurred within the ultimate second of a five-round, Battle of the 12 months contender, which Rodriguez would have misplaced had it gone to the scorecards. The devastating impact it had on Korean Zombie. I imply, not solely do I believe it is most likely one of the best ever — contemplating every thing, I am undecided the way it will ever be topped.
There are extra historic knockouts (Conor McGregor over Jose Aldo, Holly Holm over Ronda Rousey, Chris Weidman over Anderson Silva). And there are better comeback knockouts (Scott Smith over Pete Promote, Mike Russow over Todd Duffee). However watch that Rodriguez replay another time, keep in mind what the circumstances have been — and attempt to inform me that is not one of the best of all time.
Helwani: Yair Rodriguez elbow in opposition to Chan Sung Jung at UFC Battle Evening: Denver
When discussing one of the best knockout in UFC historical past, it’s important to take into account three essential components: stage, method and timing. We have seen loads of knockouts on the largest stage, like Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping. We have seen wonderful method in fights like Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim, Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga and Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm. We have additionally seen some jaw-dropping, not-so-technical knockouts that got here on the good time, corresponding to Pete Promote vs. Scott Smith and Pat Barry vs. Cheick Kongo. These are all wonderful selections. Actually, you’ll be able to’t go flawed with any of them.
Nonetheless, on the threat of being accused of recency bias, I am going to vote for Rodriguez’s knockout as the best of all time. Why? It was a method we have by no means seen earlier than, it got here in the principle occasion of the UFC’s 25th anniversary present (large stage!), and, with one second left within the combat, it is timing couldn’t have been higher. It checks all three containers.
That is particular.
Murphy: Gabriel Gonzaga head kick in opposition to Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70
UFC 70’s predominant occasion was pegged as “striker vs. grappler.” The supposed grappler, Gonzaga, was a heavy underdog. The script had Pleasure legend Cro Cop, a 6-to-1 favourite, choosing aside the younger Gonzaga with an array of kicks to earn a heavyweight title shot.
However in a twist of violent irony, the jiu-jitsu practitioner flattened the kickboxer, as Gonzaga hit Cro Cop flush within the temple with a excessive kick late within the first spherical. Cro Cop dropped, together with each jaw within the enviornment. Referee Herb Deanrushed in to unfold the Croatian, liberating Cro Cop’s contorted leg from beneath his physique.
Greater than 11 years later, Gonzaga “Cro-Copping” Cro Cop stays within the UFC’s opening montage and can perpetually stay seared within the recollections of these watching that evening.
Wagenheim: Yair Rodriguez elbow in opposition to Chan Sung Jung at UFC Battle Evening: Denver
The most recent is the best.
There have been extra consequential KO’s than what we witnessed in Saturday evening’s predominant occasion, which didn’t have the high-level, high-stakes gravitas of a championship bout. Holly Holm grew to become a world champ when she shocked that world in 2015, her heavenly head kick knocking the stellar Ronda Rousey out of orbit. Conor McGregor grabbed his first belt a month later with spectacular effectivity, needing just one punch and 13 seconds to place a halt to Jose Aldo and his decade-long win streak.
Amongst iconic vanquishings, some are memorable for his or her aesthetics, others for the personalities concerned. One among my earliest MMA remembrances, from 1998, was watching Vitor Belfort’s flying fists chase Wanderlei Silva throughout the Octagon. That fast-forward method did not work so effectively in 2001 for Caol Uno, as BJ Penn went olé after which rat-a-tat to creator a lightning-strike end. Keep in mind the evening in 2007 when Gabriel Gonzaga cro-copped Mirko Filipovicwith that turnabout-is-fair-play head kick? Dan Henderson dropping the devastating H-bomb on Michael Bisping in ’09 on the spotlit stage of UFC 100? Edson Barboza placing a brand new spin on the phrase “stiffen” when his 2012 kick chopped down Terry Etim like an ax-splintered oak? And the way about all of these Chuck Liddell lashings — clocking Randy Couture (x2), crushing Tito Ortiz (x2), collapsing on the quick arms of Rashad Evans?
However what Rodriguez did to Jung was breathtakingly unprecedented on two important ranges: the urgency and the innovation. The jaws of defeat have been only one second from chewing him up when “El Pantera” bit again. And he did so with a ending transfer the likes of which we might by no means earlier than seen in 25 years of UFC historical past. Rodriguez thus elbowed his means into the epic knockout annals. What he did to “The Korean Zombie” stands above all different KO’s as a masterpiece of combined martial artistry.
THE SURPRISE K.O. AT THE BUZZER 😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/YQWeRckTwP
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 11, 2018
Sandhu: Yair Rodriguez elbow in opposition to Chan Sung Jung at UFC Battle Evening: Denver
It is simple to fall into recency bias and get caught up within the hyperbole when one thing spectacular occurs and instantly soar to the “biggest of all time” line of considering.
That being stated, Rodriguez’s reverse upward elbow knockout of Jung final weekend in Denver is the best knockout in UFC historical past, in my e-book anyway, and this is why.
To start with, Rodriguez and Jung engaged in a 25-minute, immediate basic which has most likely secured combat of the yr honors for 2018. Unbeknownst to him, “El Pantera” was shedding the combat on the official scorecards. Earlier than the fifth spherical began, his wrestling coach, good friend and cornerman Israel Martinez instructed him to complete the combat, nevertheless it wasn’t till the final second, four:59 to be precise, when Rodriguez pulled off one of the inventive, mind-blowing, buzzer-beating knockouts I’ve ever seen. The “Korean Zombie” face planted proper into the canvas. Unbelievable scenes.
— Dana White (@danawhite) October 5, 2015
Contemplating that not too way back, Rodriguez was lower by the group, for him to then come into this occasion, the UFC’s 25th anniversary present, headline the cardboard (on quick discover no much less) after which pull this off was nothing in need of excellent. It most likely won’t ever be replicated. That was once-in-a-lifetime stuff we witnessed Saturday evening, and a end that will likely be replayed repeatedly for years to come back.
Tamiso: Edson Barboza spinning wheel kick in opposition to Terry Etim at UFC 142
A pirouette of violence from Barboza that landed flush on Etim for a walk-off knockout. In martial arts, nothing has been so vicious, but stunning on the similar time. Halfway by the third spherical of this light-weight bout in Brazil, Barboza kicked so fast and so highly effective that the lights have been shut off for Etim earlier than falling to the canvas.