The Muay Thai spinning elbow strike is one of the most devastating weapons in the UFC and combat sports at large. What makes the strike so lethal is that, unlike a regular punch, there is no padding between the attacker's elbow and the target's head. It's just a pure bone-to-bone collision.
More than that, a spinning elbow is difficult to land as it is only effective in the point-blank range. But when the spinning elbow connects, it causes a significant amount of damage to the receiver.
In the UFC, no fighter is associated with spinning elbow strikes like former light heavyweight superstar Jon Jones. After all, Jones is the most popular fighter with a penchant for busting out spinning elbow strikes from time to time.
But during his 13-year career in the octagon, 'Bones' never knocked anyone out with his signature spinning elbow strike. In fact, there are only three fighters in UFC history ever to pull off such a feat.
Every spinning elbow knockout in UFC history:
#3 Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway
The first-ever spinning elbow knockout in the octagon belongs to Dong Hyun Kim. The Korean scored a beautiful KO highlight against fellow welterweight standout John Hathaway in the main event of TUF China Finale on March 1, 2014.
After 11 minutes of a back-and-forth showdown, 'Stun Gun' lived up to his billing by dropping Hathaway with a lightning-quick counter in round three.
John Hathaway outworked Kim in the clinch before the two combatants decided to separate. The Brit then threw a short elbow, but Kim telegraphed his move and returned fire with a perfectly-placed spinning elbow of his own.
An unconscious Hathaway crashed to the ground while Kim contemplated throwing a few more strikes just for good measure. Fortunately, the Korean realized his opponent was out cold and decided to walk off into celebration.
#2 Ricardo Ramos vs. Aiemann Zahabi
At UFC 217, Aiemann Zahabi and Ricardo Ramos put on a barnburner that looked like it was headed towards a close decision ending.
But neither wished to let the judges decide the bout for them. In the third round, Zahabi came out firing on all cylinders as he charged forward, looking for the finish. He missed a left head kick and followed up with a left hand. However, Zahabi ate a clean spinning elbow from Ramos while he was busy headhunting.
The Canadian clearly believed Ramos wouldn't attempt another spinning elbow as Zahabi relentlessly continued to push forward. That decision, however, would be his biggest mistake in the fight.
For a second time, Ramos busted out a spinning elbow that landed square on the jaw of Zahabi. The thunderous blow drained the consciousness out of Zahabi and sealed the TKO win for Ramos.
Ramos's spinning elbow KO took place in the first bout of UFC 217's early prelims. It's an excellent reminder for fans to watch every single fight as highlight-reel KOs can happen anytime in the UFC.
#1 Jiri Prochazka vs. Dominick Reyes
The most recent occurrence of a spinning elbow knockout came in the main event of UFC Vegas 25. Jiri Prochazka announced his arrival as a contender in the 205-pound division by putting away former title challenger Dominick Reyes.
Prochazka did more damage early on by successfully targeting Reyes's face. But Reyes wouldn't go without a fight and recovered to score a takedown on his opponent. However, the Czech utilized an effective ground defense to get back to his feet as fast as possible.
A battered Reyes displayed his fortitude in round two when he started to find success by consistently landing counter-lefts. Reyes even rocked his opponent, who was forced to change levels, but Prochazka survived, and both men returned to their feet.
As the clock was winding down in round two, Prochazka managed to back Reyes up to the fence. 'Denis' unleashed a brutal right elbow, followed by a left spinning elbow strike. Dominick Reyes crashed onto the canvas dramatically and was out cold.