In mixed martial arts, there are few paths to victory as emphatic as the head-kick knockout. A twist of the hips, a swing of the leg, and bang, that’s it.
Though head-kick knockouts are certainly rare, we’ve witnessed dozens throughout the long and spectacular history of The Ultimate Fighting Championship. To celebrate this jaw-dropping and often jaw-breaking strike, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best head-kick knockouts in UFC history.
Click next for numbers 10 through 6 on this list, and check back later in the week for the top 5!
10. Alessio Sakara vs. Joe Vedepo
Alessio Sakara’s inconsistency in the UFC’s Octagon ultimately resulted in his ejection from the organization. Yet while he was never the picture of consistency during his time on the sport’s biggest stage there was no denying his skill on the feet. For evidence of Sakara’s venomous striking skill, look no further than his execution of Joe Vedepo at UFC Fight Night 15 back in 2008. Less than two minutes into the first round, the Italian veteran let loose a left head-kick that sent his foe stumbling to the canvas. One followup punch later, and Vedepo was sawing logs under the Jumbotron. To this day, the win stands out as the finest moment of Sakara’s knockout-filled career.
9. Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt
Junior Dos Santos and Mark Hunt are two of the best strikers in the history of the heavyweight division. So, when they were pencilled in for a scrap at UFC 160 in 2013, its not surprising that most fans expected the fight to end by knockout. Given that heavyweights are not known for being particularly nimble, however, nobody expected this one to end by way of spinning hook kick. Yet that’s precisely what happened. As the third round wore down, and the end of the fight drew near, Dos Santos unleashed a blink-and-miss-it spin kick that grazed the top of Hunt’s head, sending him crashing to the canvas in an unconscious heap. The win would earn Dos Santos a rubber match with then heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
8. Pete Williams vs. Mark Coleman
Back in 1998, at UFC 17, Pete Williams stepped onto the canvas with former UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman. 38 seconds in the first round, Williams planted his right foot in the center of Coleman’s face. The kick instantly turned Coleman’s power off, forcing veteran referee Big John McCarthy to dive into the fray to put a stop to the action. It was the first head-kick KO in UFC history, and it remains one of the very best to this day.
7. Yves Edwards vs. Josh Thomson
Today, UFC veteran Yves Edwards appears on our screens as an analyst for Fox Sports. Long before his broadcasting career began, however, the “Thugjitsu Master” stood out as one of the world’s best lightweights. Perhaps the finest moment of Edwards’ time atop the lightweight division occured at UFC 49 in 2004, when he took on a fellow unheralded great in Josh Thomson. After failing on a takedown attempt, Edwards gave up a body lock to uncork an innovative jumping head kick that sent Thomson tumbling to the canvas. A few followup punches later, and he was out. This one goes down as Thomson’s first and only knockout loss.
6. Stephen Thompson vs. Jake Ellenberger
When we last saw Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the Octagon, he battled UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to an action-packed majority draw, failing to steal the belt in the process. Thompson earned his shot at gold with an incredible run of seven straight wins. Perhaps none of these wins was more impressive than his defeat of Jake Ellenberger, which occured in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale in July of 2015. Despite being dropped in the first round, Thompson was ultimately able to shake off the cobwebs and find his range. From there, it was just a matter of time. After hurting Ellenberger with a kick, he polished him off for good with a spinning hook kick to the forehead. The win occured at 4:29 of the first round.