Where does Michael Chandler’s KO of Tony Ferguson rank in the UFC’s top 10 head kicks?
Michael Chandler’s jaw-dropping front kick KO of Tony Ferguson was the highlight of UFC 274 on Saturday night.
‘El Cucuy’ was the unlucky recipient of the final blow of the fight and slips onto our list of the top 10 head kick knockouts in UFC history.
There’s stiff competition from the likes of Holly Holm and Edson Barboza, so where does Chandler’s offer stand?
Tony Ferguson suffered a horrendous knockout of Michael Chandler at UFC 274
10. Anderson Silva over Vitor Belfort – D, 3:25 (2011)
This was supposed to be Silva’s toughest test to date when it came to striker vs. striker matchups.
Fellow Brazilian Belfort was in his prime and went on a three-fight knockout streak over Rich Franklin, Matt Lindland and Terry Martin.
The atmosphere was electric and Silva would reassert his place as one of the sport’s biggest stars with the most iconic KO of his career.
With both men standing across from each other in the center of the octagon, Silva would catch his fellow Brazilian with a fierce disguised front kick to the face.
Now known as the ‘Spider Kick’, Belfort doubled to the canvas and was stopped for the first time.
Anderson Silva had his eyes on the prize with a ridiculous knockout of Vitor Belfort in 2011
9. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye – R2, 0:26 (2019)
This surprised everyone, including referee Rob Madrigal after the camera caught him looking like he had seen a ghost.
Shevchenko defended his flyweight championship in grand style with a vicious kick to the head.
The Kyrgyz is an incredible striker, but her lower extremities are where the main threat lies, as Eye found out wildly.
There was almost no telegraphy and the kick with his left leg came up, connecting with the inside of the ankle and sending his opponent backwards.
It was immediately obvious from the sickening sound that no follow-up attacks would be needed.
Valentina Shevchenko (left) remains one of the most dangerous forwards in the world
8. Stephen Thompson vs. Dan Stittgen – R1, 4:13 (2012)
It seems fitting that there is a place for ‘Wonderboy’ in our top 10. He is without a doubt one of the most technically gifted forwards in UFC history.
His prowess was evident in his promotional debut at the expense of the unlucky Dan Stittgen.
He moved to the left and almost immediately raised his right leg towards his opponent’s blind spot around the corner.
Stephen Thompson made a statement in his UFC debut with head kick KO of Dan Stittgen
Stittgen had no chance and the foot landed flush with the mark. He collapsed onto the mat immediately.
What made it doubly impressive is that Thompson was following up on a right hand almost instantly.
It was straight out of the textbook: a perfect, clean KO.
7. Lando Vannata vs. John Makdessi – R1, 1:40 (2016)
A wheel kick knockout from Vannata makes the cut at No. 7.
The 24-year-old was in his second UFC fight against the much more experienced Makdessi, but that mattered little as he came up with things.
It took him less than two minutes and Makdessi simply moved to his right at the worst possible moment.
Lando Vannata’s steering wheel kick on John Makdessi earned him a Performance of the Night bonus
The heel connected with her face and that was all she wrote, and the referee moved quickly to avoid further punishment.
Unsurprisingly, Vannata took home the $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
He hasn’t been able to string together two consecutive wins since then and that finish has been his highlight in the UFC so far.
6. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga – R1, 4:57 (2007)
Actuality bias is probably in play on this list, but the devastating Cro Cop KO from 15 years ago remains a replayed moment in UFC montages.
When a heavyweight can be so athletic, the impact is even more seismic.
Both fighters circled clockwise for 10 seconds, so it was a smart move by Cro Cop to land the kick.
He hit the top of the head and it turned out to be the end of the fight despite Gonzaga walking away from the punch at the last second.
Mirko Cro Cop’s strong KO of Gabriel Gonzaga in 2007 is an iconic moment in UFC history.
5. Lyoto Machida vs. Vitor Belfort – R2, 1:00 (2018)
Machida delivered one of the coldest KOs and reactions ever seen.
Belfort, who must be said to be past his prime, absorbed a front kick to the face that came out of nowhere and dropped him to the canvas.
Where most boxers would have tried to pile in and land a few more punches, Machida knew the job was done, putting his hands on his hips and looking down at his fellow Brazilian. Then he bowed and dropped to his knees.
It’s the reaction that pushes this up the list, pure box office from a man who knew exactly what he had just done and was sure there was no chance of recovery.
There needs to be more Mario Balotelli endings that aren’t celebratory like Machida’s; there is something very puzzling about it.
4. Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson – R2, 0:17 (2022)
Here it is then. Anyone who doubts how high Chandler’s brutal KO of Ferguson is can match him with Dana White.
The UFC president has seen quite a few finishes in his time, but he described it as “the most vicious knockout I’ve ever seen.”
What was impressive was the timing and Ferguson’s proximity to Chandler.
Chandler did a backflip in celebration and the crowd erupted in Phoenix on Saturday.
‘El Cucuy’ would never have expected his opponent to attempt it with both men so close together and the connection to the underside of the chin was pure.
He was out like a light and the still image of the kick landing makes Ferguson’s face look like a Salvador Dali painting.
Chandler’s succession of backflips while Ferguson received medical attention added to the surreal nature of the moment, which was the first time the 38-year-old had been finished.
3. Edson Barboza over Terry Etim – R3, 2:02 (2012)
Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing entry on this list and one that appears at every UFC event on the big screen as the main card begins.
Barboza, a former Muay-Thai kickboxer, produced one for the featured video that you will never get tired of watching over and over again.
It was the first roundhouse kick KO in the UFC and poor Etim’s lights went out the moment Barboza’s heel connected with his chin.
Terry Etim was the unlucky recipient of one of the most repeated finishes in the UFC.
The Brazilian then reflected: ‘I remember that day as being very important to me, because I was coming off my first professional loss in kickboxing.
‘I really knocked the guy out. He was almost dead. He is very fresh in my mind.
The way Etim goes down instantly after being frozen makes the KO all the more iconic.
2. Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey – R2, 0:59 (2015)
Who could forget the ending dubbed ‘the kick heard around the world’?
Rousey was everything to women’s MMA, a true trailblazer at the height of her powers and Holly Holm was an underdog before their title fight in Melbourne.
But it was Holm who put in an impressive performance, catching Rousey with a massive head kick on the counterattack.
The beginning of the end of Ronda Rousey’s MMA career came with Holly Holm’s left foot
The clip was shared thousands of times online and marked a changing of the guard with the loss the beginning of Rousey’s decline before retirement.
There are other more technical and powerful kicks on this list, but you have to take into account the magnitude of the occasion and what it meant to the UFC.
Delivering that finish of an icon under the most intense spotlight elevates Holm’s effort to No. 2.
1. Joaquin Buckley over Impa Kasanganay – R2, 2:03 (2020)
Joaquin Buckley produced one of the most incredible knockouts in UFC history after a jump and spin kick put a devastating end to his fight with Impa Kasanganay two years ago.
It was an even contest in Abu Dhabi when Kasanganay grabbed Buckley’s ankle midway through the second round.
Buckley responded in impressive fashion, displaying incredible technique as he spun to his left and delivered a vicious heel kick to the face to bring the fight to an abrupt end.
The finish sent both the commentary crew and Buckley’s camp into a frenzy and quickly went viral on social media, with many fans calling it the “craziest” knockout in history.
While Buckley is one of the lower-profile fighters on this list, the unique nature of the kick and the fact that we’ll never see a similar effort again sets him apart.
Joaquin Buckley will always be associated with one of the most incredible knockouts