MMA Junkie’s 2022 Knockout of the Year: Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman

With another action-packed year of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie takes a look at the best knockouts from January to December 2022.

As voted on by our entire staff, here are the top 10 and winner of MMA Junkie’s Knockout of the Year.

Honorable mentions

Alex Pereira def. Sean Strickland at UFC 276

[autotag]Alex Pereira[/autotag] solidified his first UFC title shot when he derailed the streak of Sean Strickland without barely breaking a sweat.

Pereira, a former GLORY kickboxing champ and now current UFC middleweight champion, validated himself as a legitimate title contender when he defeated Strickland by first-round knockout in the high-stakes bout, landing his trademark left hook to set up the stoppage.

Jamahal Hill def. Johnny Walker at UFC Fight Night 201

[autotag]Jamahal Hill[/autotag] secured his first main event win when he beat Johnny Walker with a highlight-reel finish.

Hill added to his near-perfect record with a first-round knockout victory over Walker. He uncorked a punch early in the light heavyweight fight, sending Walker flinging back into the fence before taking one final brutal blow to seal the deal.

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Irene Aldana def. Macy Chiasson at UFC 279

[autotag]Irene Aldana[/autotag] produced a first-time finish in UFC history when she put Macy Chiasson away in stunning fashion in the final round of their 140-pound catchweight fight.

Aldana connected with an upkick to the liver of Chiasson. At first, it looked as though she was just flailing her legs, but then the heel hit Chiasson right in the sweet spot, and she went down in a heap to force a stoppage to the contest.

Manny Akpan def. Connor Hitchens at Cage Warriors 136

[autotag]Manny Akpan[/autotag] wrecked Connor Hitchens with a violent, face-plant-inducing roundhouse kick that ended their featherweight bout.

After Akpan stuffed a takedown from Hitchens, the two fighters bounded upward. As he looked to back off and reset, Hitchens dashed away – but directly toward Akpan’s power side. Akpan made him pay as he spun and landed the knockout blow.

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Zhang Weili def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 275

[autotag]Zhang Weili[/autotag] now has two victories over Joanna Jedrzejczyk after putting an exclamation point on the rematch between former UFC strawweight champions.

Weili bounced back from a two-fight losing skid when she earned a second-round spinning backfist knockout victory over Jedrzejczyk in a rematch of their Fight of the Year from March 2020. After the loss, Jedrzejczyk retired from MMA competition.

Chris Gutierrez def. Frankie Edgar at UFC 282

Former UFC champion Frankie Edgar’s final career fight went as badly as it could when he was knocked out cold by [autotag]Chris Gutierrez[/autotag].

Ex-lightweight titleholder Edgar was put out a little more than two minutes into the first round by Gutierrez in their bantamweight bout. It was a perfect knee that closed the show and brought an end to Edgar’s illustrious career.

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Molly McCann def. Luana Carolina at UFC Fight Night 204

[autotag]Molly McCann[/autotag]’s first finish in UFC competition couldn’t have been more spectacular, because she put Luana Carolina away with a shot that will live on highlight reels for years to come.

McCann ended her women’s flyweight bout against Carolina with a perfectly timed and placed spinning elbow. After brawling for two rounds, McCann uncorked the shot that sent Carolina crashing to the fashion and unconscious for several minutes. Fortunately, the Brazilian turned out to be OK.

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Demetrious Johnson def. Adriano Moraes at ONE on Prime Video 1

[autotag]Demetrious Johnson[/autotag] proved once again why he is one of the best to ever step into the cage in avenging his loss to Adriano Moraes to claim gold.

While Moraes had success in the first two rounds of the fight, even wobbling Johnson with a head kick, the tide began to turn in the third round as Johnson began to excel with a masterful striking display. Ultimately in the fourth round, Johnson landed a beautiful counter right hand to put Moraes down, and the follow-up knee to the head sealed the walk-off victory.

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Michael Chandler def. Tony Ferguson at UFC 274

[autotag]Michael Chandler[/autotag] got the signature victory of his octagon tenure thus far when he defeated former interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson with one of the greatest one-strike finishes in history.

Chandler, a former Bellator champion, handed Ferguson a fourth consecutive loss when he scored a second-round knockout victory by front kick. After getting dropped in the first round, Chandler came out early in Round 2 and connected with the epic shot that left Ferguson out cold on the canvas while he backflipped around the octagon.

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Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman at UFC 278

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Just when it looked like the writing was on the wall, Leon Edwards shocked the world and did the unthinkable at UFC 278.

The knockout blow came after nearly four rounds of relative domination by the champion Usman, who stifled Edwards with strong cardio, grappling, and control. Edwards looked noticeably frustrated at times, but ultimately scored the result he wanted in all-time fashion.

A left high kick blocked out of the line-of-sight of Usman by a left jab, slipped up and cranked the champion, who folded in lawn-chair fashion as he gazed blankly at the ceiling lights.

“You all doubted me that I couldn’t do it,” Edwards said in the cage after the fight. “Look at me now. Look at it: pound-for-pound, headshot, dead. That’s it.”

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Edwards started strong (though not as strong as he finished it). In Round 1, he became the first man to take down Usman. He mounted and took the back, but wasn’t able to muster up much offense. Usman had largely dominated all facets of Round 2, 3, 4, and the portion of 5 before the knockout blow. In MMA, it only takes one, however, and Edwards is now the UFC welterweight king.

Usman was considered by many, including UFC president Dana White, as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in MMA prior to UFC 278. Usman’s first title reign ends with five defenses, also including wins over Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Gilbert Burns. His winning streak was snapped at 18.

Since December 2015, Edwards has not lost. In the nearly seven years since, Edwards has gone 10-0 with one no contest. Other wins included Nate Diaz, Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie