5 best UFC knockouts of January 2023
After almost four weeks without any MMA action on tap, the UFC put on two fight cards in the first month of 2023 – one Fight Night at the promotion's Apex facility in Las Vegas and a blockbuster pay-per-view in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Across UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov and UFC 283: Teixeira vs. Hill, fans were treated to some truly spectacular finishes, including some jaw-dropping or, in this case, jaw-shattering knockouts.
On that note, here are the five best knockouts of January 2023.
#5. Johnny Walker def. Paul Craig – UFC 283
Johnny Walker has blown hot and cold since signing with the UFC in 2018. The Dana White's Contender Series graduate started strong in the world's premier MMA promotion but endured a disappointing run of form between late 2019 and early 2022.
Walker broke a two-fight skid with his submission win over Ion Cutelaba last year and extended his win streak to two at the recently concluded pay-per-view in Brazil, where he knocked out Scottish grappling phenom Paul Craig.
Both Paul Craig and Johnny Walker were looking to ascend the light heavyweight rankings at UFC 283. Given both fighters' aggressive styles, this was always going to be a short fight. With Walker's knockout power and Craig's kill-or-be-killed mentality, it was only a matter of time before a finish came about.
Just over two minutes into the first round, Walker landed a body kick, which Craig latched onto with hopes of taking the towering Brazilian down. However, with just one foot planted, Walker somehow mustered the power to stagger his Scottish counterpart.
'Bearjew' crumbled to the canvas while still holding onto a leg. Walker subsequently delivered concussive strikes on a helpless Craig, prompting the referee to intervene.
#4. Dan Ige def. Damon Jackson – UFC Vegas 67
Going into 2021, Dan Ige was in and around the top tier of the 145-pound division. However, consecutive losses to Chan Sung Jung, Josh Emmett, and Movsar Evloev saw '50k' drop out of the featherweight top 10.
At the promotion's first show of 2023, Ige returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion, delivering a stunning walk-off KO.
Ige squared off against Damon Jackson at UFC Vegas 67. Desperate to notch his first win in over two years, the Hawaiian looked on-point right from the get-go. He constantly pressured Jackson around the smaller Apex cage, forcing his counterpart to backpedal throughout.
Towards the end of the second round, Ige uncorked a picture-perfect left hook, catching Jackson flush on the chin. As his opponent dropped to the mat unconscious, '50k' knew the fight was over, didn't follow up with any ground-and-pound, and just casually walked away.
Ige's performance served as a real statement of intent and he looks set for a big year in 2023.
#3. Umar Nurmagomedov def. Raoni Barcelos – UFC Vegas 67
Umar Nurmagomedov has endured a similar ordeal to that of his brethren and countrymen Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev previously. The No.11-ranked bantamweight clearly struggles to get willing opponents in the top 15, and at UFC Vegas 67, took on yet another unranked fighter.
Nurmagomedov locked horns with Raoni Barcelos at the Apex facility earlier this month and sent a stern warning to the rest of the 135-pound division, showing new wrinkles to his game as he delivered a very impressive knockout.
Raoni Barcelos is no slouch and is arguably among the best unranked bantamweights on the roster. He is well-rounded, but is largely known for his striking pedigree. On the flip side, Umar Nurmagomedov is considered an elite grappler, with all his finishes in the promotion coming via submission.
Nurmagomedov showcased why he is a force to be reckoned with as he knocked out Barcelos in the very first round, catching the Brazilian with an incredible follow-up left hook after narrowly missing out on a step-in knee. The unbeaten Russian followed his counterpart to the ground but opted against landing more strikes when he realized Barcelos was out.
The already-stacked bantamweight division has a genuine championship caliber prospect on the rise in Nurmagomedov and it's only a matter of time before he's in the title mix.
#2. Brunno Ferreira def. Gregory Rodrigues – UFC 283
After ranked middleweight Brad Tavares pulled out of his fight against surging contender Gregory Rodrigues at UFC 283, the promotion had to scramble to find a short-notice replacement. Ultimately, Contender Series alum Brunno Ferreira stepped up on just two weeks notice for his first octagon outing.
Despite being a heavy betting underdog against the insanely-durable Rodrigues, Ferreira stole the show with an incredible first-round knockout.
Going into his recent promotional debut, Ferreira held an unblemished 9-0 professional record, a 100% finish rate and seven first-round stoppages. Despite this, many believed Rodrigues' experience in the UFC would shine through on the night.
Rodrigues had quite a bit of hype surrounding him heading into 2023, following stellar come-from-behind knockout wins over Julian Marquez and Chidi Njokuani. Even former middleweight king Israel Adesanya expressed his admiration for 'Robocop' and envisioned a fight between himself and the Brazilian.
Ferreira stole all that hype, defeating a popular fighter to improve his perfect record to 10-0.
#1. Ismael Bonfim def. Terrance McKinney – UFC 283
The Bonfim brothers were the talk of the town heading into UFC 283 in Rio de Janiero earlier this month.
The highly touted siblings both made their promotional debuts at the pay-per-view and came away with first-round finishes. Gabriel Bonfim submitted his opponent, while Ismael Bonfim made quick work of up-and-coming lightweight Terrance McKinney to open his account inside the octagon.
Ismael's sensational knockout even drew praise from Joe Rogan.
Ismael Bonfim looked supremely confident right from the opening bell, pushing Terrance McKinney onto his back-foot. McKinney is known for being a fast starter, but struggled to get a read on Bonfim's timing and movement.
Bonfim's crisp boxing deterred McKinney from attacking and just over two minutes into the first round, the Brazilian cornered his American counterpart against the cage. Showing sublime skill, he launched into a flying knee, which sent 'T-Wrecks' crashing face-first into the mat.
His stunning knockout earned him a post-fight bonus on the night, kicking off his UFC career in style.