UFC 261 was an absolute treat for fight fans. From incredible fights to highlight-reel knockouts, the first UFC event with fans in over a year did not disappoint. It also saw some crazy injuries, which reminded us why MMA is so unpredictable and one of the most dangerous sports in the world.
Over the years, the UFC has given us some incredible knockouts. From head kicks to walk-off KOs, we've been treated to some amazing moments. But what makes a knockout even more special is what it represents.
When the stakes are high and expectations are met or crushed, they make a KO that much more special. The only thing that tops it all is a picture captured perfectly to cement the iconic moment forever.
Here are 5 of the most iconic knockout images in UFC history:
#5 Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2
No surprises here. Kamaru Usman shocked the world when he became the first man to shut Jorge Masvidal's lights out in the main event of UFC 261. Usman received a lot of criticism for tying up Gamebred in the clinch and out-pointing him in their last meeting.
The Nigerian Nightmare claimed he wanted to stop Masvidal convincingly this time. To say that he accomplished his goal would be putting it lightly.
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman landed a clean right hand on the chin of Jorge Masvidal in the early minutes of the second round, which sent Gamebred crashing onto the canvas.
The champion followed up with hammer fists for good measure, but Masvidal was already out cold for the first time in his 50-fight career.
#4 Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem
Francis Ngannou set a record for the hardest punch in the UFC at the company's performance institute. This power was on full display when he met heavyweight veteran Alistair Overeem in a fight at UFC 218 to determine the number one contender in the division.
Less than two minutes into round one, The Predator landed an uppercut flush on the chin of The Demolition Man, which snapped Overeem's head back. The heavyweight veteran fell to the canvas almost lifeless in what was one of the scariest and most shocking knockouts in UFC history. With this, Francis Ngannou put the world on notice.
Ngannou lost the following title bout to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 but had his redemption in the rematch at UFC 260 when he knocked out the former champion and walked away with the belt.
#3 Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo
This was the defining moment in Conor McGregor's legacy. The Irishman came into the UFC amidst a lot of hype and kept it going as he made his way to the featherweight title. His trash-talk and cocky attitude were both loved and hated by MMA fans and fighters.
Conor McGregor met featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo in a title unification bout at UFC 194. Aldo had been unbeaten for nearly 10 years and the world waited excitedly to watch the two featherweight greats take on each other in what promised to be an electric fight.
Mystic Mac predicted a round one knockout, a move that was deemed too cocky by the MMA world, considering how formidable a champion Jose Aldo was.
The Notorious One put the world on notice when he knocked Aldo out clean in 13 seconds of the very first round. As Aldo lunged forward to connect with a left hook, McGregor caught him flush on the chin with his signature left cross. To this day, it remains the fastest finish in a title bout in UFC history.
This was the day that catapulted Conor McGregor to superstardom.
#2 Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
Like Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey has been one of the biggest stars the UFC has ever seen. She catapulted to fame as she decimated her opponents within minutes and was being billed as the most dominant female athlete in the world.
Ronda Rousey was scheduled to put her title on the line against Holly Holm at UFC 193. Leading up to the fight, Rowdy Ronda Rousey lived up to her cage name by trying to trash-talk and intimidate Holm. Through all this, Holly Holm stayed calm while acknowledging the pressure on her shoulders.
Holly Holm shocked the world as she dominated Ronda Rousey through the first round of their fight, slipping out of the way and landing perfect counters, leaving the champion's face bloodied and battered.
The UFC's most dominant female athlete was made to look like a fish out of water. Holly Holm landed a picture-perfect head kick in the first minute of round two, which knocked the lights out of Ronda Rousey.
There was a new UFC women's bantamweight champion who had just turned the combat sports world on its axis.
#1 Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren
Jorge Masvidal may have lost to Kamaru Usman at UFC 261 via a spectacular knockout, but this list wouldn't have been complete without the iconic flying knee landed by Gamebred on Ben Askren.
Jorge Masvidal faced an undefeated Funky at UFC 239 and was subject to a lot of Ben Askren's signature trash-talk in the build-up to the fight. However, on fight night, Masvidal shocked the world as he delivered a highlight for the ages.
As soon as the round began, Jorge Masvidal anticipated Ben Askren going for a takedown and landed a flying knee flush on the wrestler's chin. He followed it up with some vicious hammer fists, but Askren was already out cold.
Masvidal clocked the fastest knockout in UFC history and delivered a highlight for years to come. This moment and this picture are now iconic in MMA history.