5 greatest last-second finishes in the UFC

The UFC has had several last-minute finishes, but only one stands supreme [Image Courtesy: @ufc via X/Twitter]

Every UFC fighter steps into the octagon, determined to claim victory. Hardly any of them envision themselves exiting the cage as a loser. However, it is more than just win that fighters aim to do. In an ideal world, a fighter will finish every foe who stands in their way.

Unfortunately, the real world is far from ideal, and the notion of finishing every single opponent is a pipe dream for 99% of fighters on the roster. Sometimes, an opponent is simply too skilled, too tough, or both to be finished. They endure and survive to see the end of the bout.

But on occasion, some foes are a little less difficult to finish, surviving only until the final instance before either finally succumbing to an entire fight's worth of punishment or being caught by surprise by a strike or submission they never saw coming.

#5. Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi, UFC 186

There is no fighter more synonymous with flyweight dominance than Demetrious Johnson. However, in 2015, former Shooto bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi sought to dethrone him, putting his then 9-fight win streak on the line in a bid to capture UFC flyweight gold.

While Horiguchi started the fight off well, stunning his legendary foe on the feet, the tide turned in Johnson's favor by round two, when 'Mighty Mouse' had established his range to not only outstrike Horiguchi but outwrestle him. Slowly but surely, he overwhelmed Horiguchi round after round.

Check out Demetrious Johnson submitting Kyoji Horiguchi:

But the fight seemed destined for a decision until Johnson worked toward an armbar on the mat. With the fight coming to a close, he had locked it in and, in a stunning scene, drew a tap from Horiguchi with just one second left on the clock.

#4. Yair Rodriguez vs. Chan Sung Jung, UFC Fight 139

In the wake of a humbling loss to Frankie Edgar, Yair Rodriguez was given a far more favorable matchup with Chan Sung Jung, a striker. It would spare, 'El Pantera' the frustration of having to fend off takedowns that he was clearly ill-equipped to.

But 'The Korean Zombie' preyed on another of Rodriguez's weaknesses: pressure. As a Taekwondo specialist, Rodriguez needed time and space to throw kicks with leverage and power. Jung understood this, smothering his kicks with pressure and forcing Rodriguez into pocket-boxing exchanges.

Check out Yair Rodriguez's knockout of Chan Sung Jung:

The two went to war, bloodying and battering each other. But toward the end, Jung seemed the certain winner. He stormed forward for one final exchange, only for Rodriguez to duck under his punches and uncork a rising back elbow that knocked him out cold with just a second left for 2018's Knockout of the Year.

#3. Jiří Procházka vs. Glover Teixeira, UFC 275

At UFC 275, Jiří Procházka was awarded his crack at the promotion's light heavyweight title. His only obstacle was one of its oldest-ever champions, Glover Teixeira. The Czech samurai was a dynamic striker with power and speed, fighting with his hands low and feet wide in a traditional martial arts stance.

Teixeira, meanwhile, was a gritty veteran with a hard-nosed boxing style and slick submissions on the mat. When the two men locked horns, they used every skill in their toolbox, the momentum shifting back and forth between them. But as the fight progressed and exhaustion set in, technique went out the window.

Check out Jiří Procházka submitting Glover Teixeira:

They were too tired. So, in round five, when a gassed out Procházka found himself grappling with an equally tired Teixeira, it had devolved into a battle of wills, and Procházka wanted it more, slapping on a rear-naked choke with no hooks, to shockingly submit the superior grappler on paper, with just 32 seconds left.

#2. Max Holloway vs. Justin Gaethje, UFC 300

The war between Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje will go down as the stuff of legends, as it finally brought meaning to the 'BMF' championship. From the onset, Holloway punished Gaethje's tendency to duck low after exchanges, intercepting his dipping head with a spinning back-kick and breaking his nose.

Thereafter, Holloway merely picked his foe apart, though he was forced to survive the very first knockdown of his career, even if the official fight stats refused to reflect it. However, there was no doubt that 'Blessed' was in the driver's seat and dictating the bout with his crisper boxing and movement.

Check out Max Holloway's knockout of Justin Gaethje:

After nearly 25 minutes, Holloway was ahead on the scorecards but still beckoned Gaethje to the center of the octagon for a closing exchange in the final 10 seconds. Gaethje obliged and both men swung for the fences, missing and wiffing until a right hand from Holloway left him lying face-down at the 4:59 mark.

#1. Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman, UFC 278

After embarking on a lengthy unbeaten streak at 170 pounds, Leon Edwards finally earned both a UFC welterweight title shot and a rematch with Kamaru Usman. They squared off at UFC 278, where Edwards had a tremendous first round, even becoming the first fighter to officially take Usman down.

However, as the high altitude demands of Salt Lake City set in, he gassed out and was outwrestled from rounds two to four. Before the start of round five, he seemed broken, prompting his corner to shake him back to life with a legendary motivational speech. With his fire relit, Edwards had his conviction back.

Check out Leon Edwards' knockout of Kamaru Usman:

Throughout the fight, Usman often slipped his head on the outside of Edwards' straight. Thus, the setup was clear. With 56 seconds left on the clock, 'Rocky' faked the straight left, and Usman took the bait, only this time, he slipped his head into the path of a left high kick that separated him from his consciousness.

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