There are few moments in sports that are more entertaining than a knockout in mixed martial arts. Casual and hard-core fans alike both cheer and cringe at the sight of a well-timed combination that effectively lands, sending one fighter to the mat. The UFC even awards a Knockout of the Night for each of their events with the winner receiving a cash prize.
This list will comprise the top 15 leaders in total knockouts in the UFC’s history. Many of these fighters have fought across the world, but this list aims to tabulate the knockout leaders specifically for UFC events and includes only active fighters. Also, this list will take into account both KOs and TKOs.
T14. Georges “Rush” St. Pierre – 5 Knockouts
The pride of Quebec, Canada, is a Welterweight champion whose expertise lies in a variety of martial arts fields. Georges St. Pierre began his UFC career brightly by defeating Karo Parisyan at UFC 46. After only his 2nd fight, he was chosen to fight Matt Hughes for the vacated Welterweight belt, which he lost by submission. After winning his next fights, GSP was given a chance for a re-match with Hughes, but was injured, delaying the bout. When St. Pierre finally got in the ring with Hughes, he made short work of him, winning in the 2nd round by TKO. He then lost his belt to Matt Serra by TKO in the 1st round. He won the re-match and held on to his belt for 9 more fights before deciding to take a break from the UFC after his last title defence. For his last win against Johny Hendricks, St. Pierre received $400,000 and has a career record of 25-2.
T14. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida – 5 Knockouts
Do not let Lyoto Machida’s name fool you, as this jiu-jitsu fighter’s origins lie in Brazil, not Japan. His father moved to Brazil at the age of 22 and was the head of the Brazilian Karate organization. He began his MMA career under the tutelage of Antonio Inoki, the legendary pro wrestler and MMA pioneer. “The Dragon”, as Machida is known, then made his debut at UFC 67 in 2007 where he took on Sam Hoger and won by unanimous decision. In 2009, he won the Light Heavyweight title versus Rashad Evans, earning himself the Knockout of the Night, a prize worth $60,000. He defended his title twice against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, losing the second time. He has since been unable to reclaim his title and has moved to the Middleweight division, where he won his first fight by knockout and again claimed the prize for Knockout of the Night. For his last fight, Machida beat Mark Muñoz by knockout, winning $200,000 for fighting and a $50,000 bonus for yet another Knockout of the Night. Machida has a career MMA record of 20-4.
13. Rashad “Sugar” Evans – 6 Knockouts
Rashad “Sugar” Evans, was one of the first big stars to emerge from UFC’s reality competition, The Ultimate Fighter. He won the second season of the Ultimate Fighter, even though he was considered the underdog in each of his fights. Evans decided to enter the UFC as a Light Heavyweight and won his first fight against Sam Hoger, much like Lyoto Machida. He went undefeated in his next fights, even beating legend Chuck Liddell by knockout which not only won Knockout of the Night, but Knockout of the Year for 2008. He was then given a title shot against Forrest Griffin which he won by Knockout. Unfortunately for Evans, he lost the title in his next match, against the aforementioned Lyoto Machida and has never been able to reclaim the belt. For his last win against Chael Sonnen, he received $125,000 for competing and a bonus of $125,000 for winning his bout. Evans has a career MMA record of 19-3.
T8. Cheick Kongo – 7 Knockouts
This kickboxing expert out of France began his UFC career at UFC 61 where he knocked out Gilbert Aldana. After a couple of fights he faced the legendary, but older, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović and was able to beat him by decision. However, despite a bright beginning to his UFC career, Cheick Kongo was never able to really establish himself in the Heavyweight division and never got the opportunity to fight for a title. In 2011, he knocked out Pat Berry, winning both Knockout of the Night and of the Year as well. In his last fight, a defeat to Roy Nelson, Kongo earned $70,000 and has a career MMA record of 20-8.
T8. Chris “The Crippler” Leben – 7 Knockouts
Chris Leben began his UFC career by competing on the inaugural Ultimate Fighter and was eliminated by Josh Koscheck. Leben has always been somewhat of a controversial figure, saying outlandish things and urinating on the bed of another Ultimate Fighter competitor, Jason Thacker. Thacker demanded to fight Leben as the finale of the Ultimate Fighter, but Leben made short work of him, finishing him in 95 seconds. Though Leben has never competed for the title, he has won Knockout of the Night on 4 different occasions. After defeating legendary Middleweight Wanderlei Silva, he has lost 4 straight fights. After his last bout against Uriah Hall, where he made $51,000 in a loss, he said that he was contemplating retirement. The boxing specialist has a career MMA record of 22-11.
T8. B.J. Penn – 7 Knockouts
BJ Penn is a Lightweight Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner born in Hawaii who began his MMA carrier at UFC 31 in 2001 with a TKO victory over Joey Gilbert. He won his first belt in 2004 when he defeated Matt Hughes, who was hugely favored, for the Welterweight Championship, with Penn jumping up a weight class to challenge him. He then decided to fight at K-1 and was stripped of his Welterweight title by the UFC. He returned to the UFC in 2006, to fight Georges St-Pierre with the winner challenging for the Welterweight title. He lost, but St. Pierre was injured in the lead-up to the title fight against Hughes, so Penn had a rematch with Hughes that he then lost, due to a rib injury. He moved back down to Lightweight afterwards and submitted Joe Stevenson to win that title. He then re-challenged St. Pierre for the Welterweight, but lost to him once more. Penn has since fluctuated between Welterweight and Lightweight and is now in the Featherweight division. In his last loss to Rory MacDonald, Penn took away $150,000 and has a lifetime record of 16-9-2.
T8. Thiago “Pitbull” Alves – 7 Knockouts
The muay thai striker out of Brazil made his debut in MMA at a very young age, winning his first fight at the age of 15. Although he lost his first UFC match, Thiago Alves went on to rise in the ranks of the Welterweight class until receiving a title shot against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 100, ultimately lost by unanimous decision. Injuries have derailed Alves’ career after that fight and have not allowed him to get back to the top of the Welterweight division. His last match was in March 2012 where he lost against Martin Kampmann by submission. For that last fight, Alves received $33,000 and sports a career MMA record of 20-9.
T8. Gabriel Gonzaga – 7 Knockouts
The Heavyweight who is a black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist began his UFC career spectacularly at UFC 56 by knocking out Kevin Jordan with a Superman punch. Gabriel Gonzaga furthered his fame by knocking out Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović with his own patented high kick at UFC 70, for which he won both Knockout of the Night and of the Year. He was given a championship title chance against Randy Couture but lost by knockout in the third round. Things then took a turn for the worse for Gonzaga, as he exchanged wins and losses before a 4 fight losing streak had him released from the UFC. He later returned in 2011, to defeat Ednaldo Oliveira by submission, but hasn’t been able to challenge for the title. Gonzaga earned a total of $58,000 for his defeat of Shawn Jordan in his last fight and has a career MMA record of 16-7.
T6. Melvin Guillard – 8 Knockouts
The Lightweight boxing expert out of New Orleans began his career as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 2, though he was unable to win the competition. Melvin Guillard made his professional debut at UFC 60 knocking out Rick Davis. Despite a decent record, he has never been able to move into contender status due to issues with substances and having received a non-contest for greasing during a fight. He has won 3 Knockout of the Night awards and remains a threat to knock his opponent out cold whenever he is in the octagon. His last fight was a no contest against Ross Pearson because of an accidental knee that caused a large cut to Pearson. Guillard received $42,000 for that fight and has a career MMA record of 31-12-2.
T6. Tito Ortiz – 8 Knockouts
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the UFC having won titles but engaging in a variety of disputes with President Dana White. Tito Ortiz began his UFC career at UFC 13 by defeating Wes Albritton in 31 seconds. After winning a few more fights, he fought Ken Shamrock for the Light Heavyweight Championship in 1999 but ended up losing by submission. Shamrock retired after the fight, so Ortiz took on Wanderlei Silva for the vacated belt and won. He successfully defended his belt for the next 3 years, even defeating the un-retired Shamrock once more. He then vacated his title and took a year off citing differences with Dana White, before returning to fight Randy Couture, who he lost to by decision. Ortiz then took a number of hiatuses before returning to face Ken Shamrock for a third and final time, winning by TKO. He then took a few more hiatuses (which is as ridiculous as it sounds) before returning to fight sporadically, and still remains an active MMA fighter. For his last UFC fight, a loss to Forrest Griffin, Ortiz made a cool $250,000 and has a career MMA record of 16-11-1.
T3. Michael “The Count” Bisping – 9 Knockouts
The Middleweight kickboxer out of Cyprus began his UFC career as a contestant of the third Ultimate Fighter under the tutelage of Tito Ortiz. Bisping won his first UFC fight at UFC 66 with a TKO on Eric Schafer. However, despite a decent UFC record, in both the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight divisions, he has been unable to win important fights that would launch him into contention for a title. Losing to Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen in fights that would’ve made him a top contender for the title has never allowed him to reach the next level. In his last match against Alan Belcher, Bisping won by Technical Decisicion after an eye-poke forced Belcher from the fight. He took home $425,000 ($275,000 to show and $150,000 win bonus) and has a career record of 24-5.
T3. Cain Velasquez – 9 Knockouts
Cain Velasquez is a well-versed fighter with a decorated background in kickboxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu. He began his career at UFC 83 with a TKO of Brad Morris and won his next 6 fights before getting a chance to contend for the Heavyweight championship. He defeated Antonio Rodridgo Nogueira with a knockout to earn a chance at the title and earned Knockout of the Night in the process. He then beat former WWE superstar Brock Lesnar to earn the Heavyweight belt. Unfortunately for Velasquez, he lost his title in his next fight to Junior dos Santos before reclaiming it 2 fights later. His last fight was a successful title defence, once again against dos Santos, this time winning by a TKO in the fifth round. He earned $400,000 for that fight and sports a 13-1 record in his MMA career.
T3. Rich Franklin – 9 Knockouts
Rich Franklin is a veteran of the UFC whose expertise lies in kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. He made his UFC debut at UFC 40 by defeating Evan Tanner. After winning his next 2 fights he was given a chance to face Hall of Fame fighter Ken Shamrock with a shot at the title on the line. He won the fight by TKO and moved on to face Evan Tanner again, but this time with the Middleweight title at stake. He dispatched of Tanner and defended his title successfully before losing it to Anderson Silva at UFC 64. He eventually was given another crack at Silva for the title, but lost again to the top-level talent. He then moved to Light Heavyweight, but was never really able to challenge for the title at that weight class. His one big moment as a Light Heavyweight was when he knocked out Chuck Liddell and won Knockout of the Night. He has since moved back to Middleweight and his last fight was a loss to Cung Le which netted Franklin $75,000. He has a career MMA record of 29-7.
T1. Vitor Belfort – 11 Knockouts
The veteran Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Vitor Belfort began his UFC career at UFC 12 by winning 2 matchups that night, back when the UFC was a tournament-style event. After a few more fights he moved over to the Pride Fighting Championships before finally returning to face Chuck Liddell who he lost to by decision. He then won his first belt, defeating Randy Couture for the Light Heavyweight championship. However, he then lost the title back to Couture in the rematch. Belfort defeated Tito Ortiz in his next match, but then decided to move on to professional boxing. He returned to UFC in in 2009 to face and knockout Rich Franklin, which won him Knockout of the Night. He then challenged Anderson Silva for the Middleweight Championship, but was knocked out by a vicious front kick. His next fight will be against Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship after he defeated Anderson Silva for the belt. His last fight was a Knockout victory against Dan Henderson that earned him Knockout of the Night and total earnings of $325,000 ($275,000 to fight and $50,000 for KOTN). His career MMA record is 24-10.
T1. Andersen “The Spider” Silva – 11 Knockouts
The unorthodox fighter from Brazil has a wide background of MMA expertise including boxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and muay thai. Anderson Silva initially made his UFC debut in 2006 after spending time at Pride and other small publications. He made quick work of Chris Leben in his first fight by knocking him out in 49 seconds and winning Knockout of the Night. He was then given a shot at the Middleweight Championship against Rich Franklin where he registered a TKO in the first round. He successfully defended his title twice before fighting Dan Henderson to unify the Pride Welterweight and UFC Middleweight titles. He won that match by submission and successfully defended his tittle until the past year where he ran into Chris Weidman. In his first fight against him, he lost the title by knockout, being caught off guard in one of his typical mocking stances. In their rematch, Weidman checked one of Silva’s kicks, breaking Silva’s left tibia and fibula. The arrogant, but extraordinarily talented fighter is commonly regarded as the best MMA fighter of all time and is also tied as the greatest knockout fighter in UFC’s history. For that last fight Silva received $600,000 and sports a career record of 33-6.
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