Some of the most brutal and historic moments in the UFC have been from fights finished with knockouts using knees. Fans have a tendency to look at a fighter’s grappling, striking, and kicks, and can tend to overlook some other powerful tools like elbows and especially knees. Jeet Kune Do has several vicious knees that are great to use in a self-defense street scenario, but for now here are a run down of the some of the most vicious and memorable knees used in the UFC.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren
July 6, 2019
It’s hard to tell what Ben Askren had in mind when this fight began with Masvidal running straight toward him, knocking him out just five seconds into the fight with a flying knee. It appeared as if he was shooting for a takedown, but the whole thing happened so quickly, Askren may have had a hard time reading his opponent’s body language. Thanks to a nasty concussion, Askren doesn’t even remember fighting Masvidal, so he wasn’t able to give much introspection in any of his post-fight interviews either. Upon watching a video of the fight, he later mused that Masvidal came at him pretty quickly, and commended Masvidal’s execution of the move which he even joked himself on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, that prior to being knocked out with a flying knee, he never understood how fighters didn’t see it coming. The flying knee is not an uncommon move in the UFC, but the execution of this move made a pretty outstanding record as the fastest knockout in UFC history.
UFC Fight Night
Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar
February 6, 2021
This jumping knee was executed a little more covertly than Masvidal’s flying knee because Sandhagen and Edgar were in close range. Sandhagen was switching his stance and as Edgar threw a right punch, Sandhagen simultaneously stepped back with his right foot and landed the jumping knee with the same leg. This became the second fastest flying knee knockout in UFC history, although the particular move that Sandhagen used would be considered a jumping knee. The two names tend to be conflated at times, but the flying knee utilizes a different technique, as seen by Masvidal’s execution of the move, where he elevated one leg, but knee’d his opponent with the other leg. Regardless, these knee knockouts are pretty scary and as soon as Sandhagen landed impact, Edgar went out cold on the canvas.
Aljamain Sterling v. Petr Yan
March 6, 2021
This fight made its own UFC history after Yan illegally knee’d Sterling when he was a downed opponent. Yan appeared to hold the back of Sterling’s head, ignoring a warning from the referee, before smashing his knee directly into his face. Sterling struggled to get up for a few minutes and looked completely disoriented before doctors determined he could not continue. Since this fight was for a title, Sterling became the first fighter in UFC history to win a championship via disqualification. There was tons of confusion as to why, Yan, a seasoned UFC fighter, in a bout to retain his championship belt would use this move, along with some confusion over what his corner was telling him at the time. In a post-fight interview, Yan admitted that his choice had nothing to do with anything his corner told him, and he simply made a bad choice in the moment. There was some upset from fans over Sterling winning the belt in this fashion, but it wasn’t his fault that Yan decided to use such a brutal (and illegal) knee.
UFC Fight Night
Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart
March 13, 2021
Perhaps Eryk Anders watched the fights from the prior week on March 6 with the television on mute, because just one week after Petr Yan lost a title fight and his belt for illegally kneeing Aljamain Sterling, Anders illegally knee’d Stewart when he was a downed opponent. The move was almost identical to the week prior, only this time with Anders holding Stewart’s head and smashing him in the side of his face with his knee. Any kind of knee is brutal but being hit in the head in such close range with a knee must be devastating. Knees land more impact and power than a punch and is overall harder than a fist. Stewart was able to stand up, but he appeared to be woozy and the doctors determined it was not safe to finish with the fight being declared no content by the referee.
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