It was exactly 10 years ago today that Anderson Silva knocked out Vitor Belfort with a front kick in the main event of UFC 126.
Silva and Belfort are two of the biggest stars in Brazilian MMA ever, and on February 5, 2011, they met in the main event of UFC 126. At the time, Silva was the UFC middleweight champion and was coming off of an incredible comeback win over Chael Sonnen. But before beating Sonnen he had a string of lackluster performances, and not everyone was sold on Silva. Belfort, who was coming off of a knockout win over Rich Franklin, was said to be the man that could finish Silva. But Silva wasn’t hearing it. Instead, he landed a front kick right to the jaw on Belfort, KOing him cold.
This was one of those knockouts you will always know where you were when it landed. This was 10 years ago, and I was in journalism school at the time. I remember how much I was really looking forward to watching Silva vs. Belfort, but a friend of mine had his wedding the same night, and I was his best man. It was a great wedding, but I remember thinking the whole time, ‘What’s happening at UFC 126?’ My plan was to order the pay-per-view, stay off social media and MMA websites to avoid spoilers, and watch it the next day when I got home. I also made sure to turn my phone off that night, just in case my MMA friends texted me about it.
Thankfully, my plan worked, and I watched UFC 126 the next day totally blind. It was then that my jaw dropped to the floor as Silva KOed Belfort with a front kick right to the face. I had watched a lot of MMA at that point, but seeing that KO, you could just tell that you were watching history. It was one of the most incredible knockouts you’ll ever see, and it helped Silva become a superstar. I used to train muay Thai at that time, and everyone at the gym the next day was drilling that kick on the pads. That special kick right there probably created a whole generation of future fighters.
When you talk about the greatest knockouts of all time, it’s obviously a very subjective list. But there is no doubt this was a truly special kick that’s right near the top. Do you think Anderson Silva knocking out Vitor Belfort with the front kick at UFC 126 is the greatest MMA knockout of all time?