MMA Junkie’s 2023 Knockout of the Year: Israel Adesanya def. Alex Pereira

With another action-packed year of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie takes a look at the best knockouts from January to December. Here are the top five and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Knockout of the Year” award for 2023.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice for “Knockout of the Year.”

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Honorable mentions

Honorable mention: Ismael Bonfim def. Terrance McKinney at UFC 283

The moment the fight began, it was clear Ismael Bonfim wasn’t there to roll over for Terrance McKinney in their lightweight bout.

As it became clear he was starting to take over going into the second round, cageside commentator Paul Felder noted how amazing Bonfim looked in the fight, then he uncorked a brutal flying knee strike that face-planted McKinney and put him to sleep.

Honorable mention: Lorenz Larkin def. Mukhamed Berkhamov at Bellator 290

Lorenz Larkin’s first encounter with Mukhamed Berkhamov ended in a no contest after a foul halted the action. In the rematch, however, there was no doubt.

Larkin only needed less than two minutes to dispatch of Berkhamov in the welterweight bout. During an early exchange, “The Monsoon” landed a pinpoint elbow that immediate rocked his opponent and sent him crashing to the canvas. No more shot were necessary, because Larkin has completed the job.

Honorable mention: Justin Gaethje def. Dustin Poirier at UFC 291

Justin Gaethje added another accolade to his legendary when he claimed the “BMF” title against Dustin Poirier.

After suffering a fourth-round TKO defeat to Poirier in their Fight of the Year encounter in April 2018, Gaethje avenged his loss in the lightweight rematch by second-round head kick knockout.

Honorable mention: Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294

Islam Makhachev’s second win over Alexander Volkanovski was much more definitive than the first, because he finished the fight with a head kick and punches in the opening round of the lightweight title bout.

A left high kick was the game-changer. It was a tool Makhachev used frequently in their first meeting, a fight he won by unanimous decision at UFC 284 in February. Volkanovski flopped to the mat, along the cage. Makhachev quickly jumped on top and landed short hammerfists as blood leaked down Volkanovski’s face.

Honorable mention: Tom Aspinall def. Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295

Tom Aspinall took a big step in completing his career potential when he picked up the interim heavyweight title against Sergei Pavlovich in a mere 69 seconds.

With Jon Jones injured, Aspinall claimed the interim belt, ending the winning streak of Pavlovich with a 69-second knockout. The Brit took a big shot early, but then turned the tables and landed a combination that dropped his opponent and set up the fight-ending sequences.

Honorable mention: Josh Emmett def. Bryce Mitchell at UFC 296

Josh Emmett created one of the most brutal one-punch knockouts in recent memory against Bryce Mitchell, snapping a two-fight losing skid and putting an unforgettable highlight on his reel.

The threat of Emmett’s power kept Mitchell on high alert in the early sequences. Emmett darted forward looking to land a right hand to the body, but Mitchell did well to evade the connection. Unfortunately for Mitchell, his defensive success did not last much longer. Emmett would close the distance and sit on a right hand that found Mitchell’s chin. The strike knocked Mitchell out cold, and the celebration for Emmett was on. As cameras showed Mitchell on the canvas, his body began shaking in a seizure-like movement.

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The winner: Israel Adesanya def. Alex Pereira at UFC 287

Israel Adesanya finally landed the punches he sought for years – and when they landed, he once again became the UFC middleweight champion.

In the UFC 287 main event in Miami, Adesanya defeated Alex Pereira by knockout at 4:21 of Round 2. It was rivalry’s fourth in combat sports and the second in MMA. It was also the first Adesanya won.

Pereira entered the bout at 3-0 in the lifetime series, with two kickboxing wins (one by knockout and one by decision) and a UFC title-earning TKO victory over Adesanya at UFC 281 in November 2022. Both of Pereira’s stoppage victories were late-round comebacks, further igniting the uneasy feelings with Adesanya.

The first round was a leg kick battle. Adesanya utilized his technical striking as Pereira leaned on his signature power. A close opening five minutes of point-fighting was followed by a more aggressive second round from both fighters, particularly Pereira, who landed a hard knee and punches combination.

With Adesanya against the cage, Pereira attempted more strikes but was met by two conscious-stealing right hands. Adesanya landed one massive hammerfist follow-up before referee Dan Miragliotta dove in to save the stiffened Pereira.

That’s when the celebration began. Adesanya stood over his long-time rival and pretended to shoot arrows at his downed opponent, a play on Pereira’s signature walkout motions. Breakdancing followed before the UFC middleweight title was once again wrapped around Adesanya’s waist.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie