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The Eight Most Impressive Striking Displays in MMA History

You asked for it, and now you got it.  Cage Potato presents the 8 most impressive striking displays we’ve ever witnessed in MMA.  Please note that “impressive” doesn’t necessarily mean the best technical displays or most dominant victories.  Naw son, there’s a range.  Some are brutal, some are smoove, and some are just nice all-around displays.  All are impressive for one reason or another, and our hats go off to the purveyors of beatdowns featured below.  Enjoy…

#8: Takanori Gomi vs. Jens Pulver: Pride Shockwave, 12/31/04

Going into this fight, the conventional wisdom was that Pulver would want to stand and bang and Gomi would look to get things to the mat. As you see, that ain’t how it happened. Instead they traded a pleasing mix of low kicks, body shots, and power punches in a contest to see who would fall down first. Turns out that someone was Pulver, who couldn’t stand up to Gomi’s deceptive power quite as well as he thought.Really makes you wonder what happened to that Gomi. He sure was something to watch once upon a time.

#7: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Gary Goodridge: Pride Total Elimination, 8/10/03

While several of Fedor’s fights could arguably make this list, his one-minute destruction of “Big Daddy” gets the nod simply because it’s one of the best examples out there of Emelianenko’s nothing-but-power-punches approach to striking.  From the moment he first unleashes his offense, Fedor hardly throws anything that isn’t a cannonball with evil intentions.  Just listen to the sound of the punches hammering Goodridge in the opening seconds and see if it doesn’t remind you of a Gallagher show.  Sure, he’s beaten better opponents in his time, and thrown more devastating one-punch KO’s, but this one really gives you a glimpse of how terrifying it must be to find yourself on the business end of a Fedor assault.

#6: Wanderlei Silva vs. “Rampage” Jackson II: Pride 28, 10/31/04

Okay, so Wanderlei Silva isn’t going to make anyone’s list when it comes to MMA’s most technically sound strikers, but so what?  This one makes the list on the basis of sheer brutality and balls-out aggression.  In vintage Axe Murderer form, Silva battered Jackson with his trademark hooks and knees until a dazed “Rampage” made the mistake of walking into Silva’s thai clinch.  The series of knees that followed will forever be a part of MMA lore, as will the iconic image of Jackson falling face first through the ropes, completely unconscious.  It wasn’t pretty or slick or even something he could do again when they met four years later, but on that night Silva and his devastating knees sent scores of Japanese kids home to have terrifying Anime nightmares.  Wait, Japanese people all dream in Anime, right?  Or was my college roommate wrong about everything?

#5: B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk: UFC 84, 5/24/08

After what felt like about six months worth of steroid-related shit talk, Penn and Sherk finally stepped into the Octagon one night in May to decide who was the real UFC lightweight champ.  We thought this fight would feature a series of takedown attempts from Sherk, followed by a series of freakish displays of flexibility from Penn as he avoided each one, but instead what we were treated to was an impressive boxing display from “The Prodigy” as he picked Sherk apart for three rounds.  Sure, it’s not terribly hard to out-strike a guy with T-Rex arms, but Penn is still the only 155-pounder to ever finish Sherk, and the flying knee/uppercut combo he did it with is justification enough for his place on this list.

#4: (tie) Jon Jones vs. Andre Gusmao/Stephan Bonnar: UFC 87/94

Crazy-striking aficionado Jon Jones makes this list not so much for one particularly mind-blowing fight, but more for his body of work in the UFC thus far.  In his debut against Andre Gusmao he mixed elbows from weird angles with flying knees and unorthodox punch combos.  He later floored Stephan Bonnar with a spinning elbow that made Joe Silva lose his goddamn mind, and he’s a man who is not easily impressed.  When it comes to impressive striking, “Bones” Jones could very well be the future, proving that YouTube really can be educational, assuming you’re also a great athlete to begin with.

#3: Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin II: UFC 77, 10/20/07

After Anderson Silva completely destroyed Rich Franklin in the thai clinch to take away his middleweight belt at UFC 67, the optimists among us may have talked themselves into believing that all “Ace” needed to do was shore up his clinch game and then he’d be back on top.  This turned out to be more hope than strategy.  Silva’s next-level striking skills came out in full force that night in Ohio as he appeared at times to be fighting from five seconds into the future.  After this performance there could be no doubt that Silva was the best middleweight in the world.  But he couldn’t do that against a fighter out of his own weight class…or could he?

#2: Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans: UFC 98, 5/23/09

When the elusive karate master Machida met the wrestler-turned-heavy-hitter Evans, many of us were expecting a slow-paced, methodical match that ended in a decision.  What few of us thought we’d see is a straight-up striking clinic from Machida.  He made a mockery of Evans’ timing and depth-perception, flying in and out with striking combos that still seem possible only in video games.  Evans did his best to hang tough and even talk a little shit (maybe he had abandoned the concept of defense and thought he’d just hurt Machida’s feelings?), but right in the middle of his verbal tirade he got caught with a punch that turned his face into a cartoon. 

#1: Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin: UFC 101, 8/8/09

Forrest Griffin came into this fight with an easy-going, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ kind of attitude.  What he found out is that you don’t have to be knocked into another world in order for a little piece of you to die.  From the start Silva had no trouble bobbing and weaving his way in and then landing at will with punches that didn’t seem terribly hard, but which flattened Griffin nonetheless.  The real coup de grace came when Griffin finally said, ‘Enough of this shit,’ and charged forward with a three-punch combo.  None of them landed.  Instead, Silva took his time getting his head just barely out of the way before delivering a short right jab that proved to be the knockout blow.  Griffin collapsed to the mat and waved his arms like a toddler signaling he was ready for bed, looking more overwhelmed than dazed.

Afterwards, Griffin would bolt out of the cage and Silva would ignore all of Joe Rogan’s questions in the post-fight interview before shouting something in Portuguese that, roughly translated, meant: ‘Was that not some Jedi knight shit right there?!’  Okay, so we dropped Portuguese after the first week.  But still, it was some Jedi knight shit.

Honorable Mention: Nate Marquardt vs. Wilson Gouveia (the ending, at least), Mirko Filipovic vs. Aleksander Emelianenko, Nick Diaz vs. Scott Smith, “Shogun” Rua vs. “Rampage” Jackson.

Did we miss any?  Why not go ‘head and let us know in the comments section?

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Quilled Mind- September 13, 2012 at 9:31 am
Why the hell do they have Jon Jones in this list? His striking back then was sloppy and inaccurate (like spinning-elbowing the BACK of Bonnar's head). There are so many great displays of striking from Affliction, Strikeforce, Pride, and the UFC to choose from ahead of that. Kudos to the Gomi vs Pulver fight and the Fedor vs Goodridge fight because Goodridge didn't land a single strike on Fedor...Fedor just blasted him away.
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splitaswisha- November 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm
You definetly have to raise the count higher
You are absolutely high to not have Aleksander Emelianenko vs Ricardo Morais, HIGH!
augs- September 12, 2009 at 8:59 am
how about any fight that jose aldo has had in the wec?
common sense- September 12, 2009 at 8:48 am
DIAZ/SMITH SHOULD BE IN THERE!!!! IT SET STRIKING RECORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i think these guys are racist....fuck an honorable mention, 209!
axhed- September 12, 2009 at 8:27 am
yeah i was thinking of diaz/smith too. the twenty jabs landed in the first :15 of r2(?) was pretty crazy.
RJeezy- September 12, 2009 at 12:23 am
Sergei vs. Ninja-- best body shots ever (not counting Bas in Pancrase)
VegasDirt- September 11, 2009 at 10:30 pm
I want to see more of Jon Jones in the UFC. That spinning elbow that landed on Bonnars temple was amazing.

NOTSOB I'm not sure how you u got away with writing all of that nonsense without your right hand not turning on you and knocking your dumb ass out.
MegaPunk- September 11, 2009 at 7:47 pm
Diaz vs Smith should've been on the actual list. Nick's punches thrown and landed in that fight lit up the fight metric scoring system.

Bas Rutten should be on the honorable mention list for his fight with Jason Delucia for the open handed strikes and kicks to the liver he landed with the last one crippling Delucia and ending the fight.

Also Jon Jones #4 all time are you kidding me?
Bill C.- September 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm
Shogun-Rampage is probably still the sickest striking display I've ever seen. It was a complete demolition.
Effin_P_Roof- September 11, 2009 at 6:40 pm
I agree 100% with right hand crazy. How the hell you break someones jaw with a slap? Silva's pimp hand is strong.
newotnek- September 11, 2009 at 6:24 pm
Jon Jones is amazing... nuff said
UFCSelect.com- September 11, 2009 at 6:02 pm
Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell was classic!!
pfan11- September 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm
vitor belfort vs. wanderlei silva
J Akuma- September 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm
Frye/Takayama wasn't an impressive display of striking as much as it was an impressive display of "Oh, my gawd, how are these guys still alive, much less standing"
GSP for Prime Minister- September 11, 2009 at 3:47 pm
Agreed...

Frye versus Takayama looked exactly like a hockey brawl!!
GSP for Prime Minister- September 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm
lawler vs lytle

lawler vs riley

yes, i was, and still am, a big lawler fan..
831 Son- September 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm
The Anderson vs. Forrest fight should not just be a little gay .gif. The whole fight needs to be shown to understand the superiority that Silva has. That matrix shit he pulled off was amazing.
imakeutap- September 11, 2009 at 2:17 pm
joachim vs alvarez had some exciting standup
Dubbayoo- September 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Seems kinda awkward to not put one of Chuck Liddell's countless striking clinics on here.. Sure maybe all the dancing is transforming that powerful closed fist into a limp wrist, but surely Chuck in his prime could strike at least as well as a 2004 Gomi did...once...

Not that I really care, but the article instructed to write comments like this. Just following orders.

Fuck y'all muhfuckas
UFC fan- September 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm
I think Diego beating the living shit out of Guida should have been in there somewhere.
Endocat- September 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm
Gomi is still fighting, he just changed his name to Mizuto Hirota


Hamma Fist Elbow Bam-Bam- September 11, 2009 at 1:23 pm
I know Franklin was a more worthy opponent, but nothing impresses the shit out of me like Anderson Silva-Chris Leben. Must've head like 20 unanswered, perfectly flush shots to the face in a row.
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