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