Knockout of the Year Watch: October 2013 Edition
At Bellator MMA 106, Muhammed Lawal will attempt to avenge his stunning loss to Emanuel Newton.
In February, Lawal met Newton in the light heavyweight tournament semifinals. Though heavily favored to walk through the tournament field and battle for the 205-pound championship, Lawal was knocked out by a spinning backfist from Newton.
Newton went on to win that tournament by beating Mikhail Zayats in the finals. In the months that followed, Lawal also came out on top of a four-man tournament during the Bellator MMA: 2013 Summer Series. Now rivals, Lawal and Newton are set to meet again on Saturday with an interim light heavyweight title going to the winner.
The first matchup between Lawal and Newton produced one of the best knockouts of 2013. Will the rematch result in another amazing finish?
As October comes to a close, here are the leading candidates for Knockout of the Year in 2013.
5. Travis Browne
Event: UFC Fight Night 26
Opponent: Alistair Overeem
Knockout Method: Front kick and punches
It only took Travis Browne 10 months to regain the momentum he lost in a knockout loss to Antonio Silva at UFC on FX 5.
At UFC Fight Night 26, Browne was matched up with Alistair Overeem, who was also recently stopped by Silva. Late in the first round, Browne surprised Overeem with a front kick to the chin and followed the former Strikeforce champion to the ground to finish the fight with punches.
Browne is now within striking distance of a shot at the heavyweight belt. With a win over Josh Barnett at UFC 168, Browne put himself in position to meet the winner of an upcoming title fight between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum.
4. Chris Weidman
Event: UFC 162
Opponent: Anderson Silva
Knockout Method: Left hook
Although many were predicting he'd upset Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman's wrestling was supposed to be his most important weapon against the Brazilian.
Instead, Weidman ended Silva's championship tenure with a well-placed left hand. Caught with his hands down, Silva fell to the canvas and had his head bounced around with a follow-up punch before the fight was stopped by referee Herb Dean.
Following years of embarrassing opponents with his striking, Silva faced his own moment of humiliation.
In December, "The Spider" will have a chance to redeem himself. Due to his long reign as middleweight champion, Silva has been granted an immediate rematch with Weidman at UFC 168.
3. Junior dos Santos
Event: UFC 160
Opponent: Mark Hunt
Knockout Method: Spinning heel kick
After losing the UFC heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos met Mark Hunt in an exciting striking matchup.
The heavyweights stood toe-to-toe for the better part of three rounds before dos Santos unleashed a spinning heel kick that sent Hunt to the canvas. With a few follow-up punches, the fight was over and Hunt's incredible run was ended.
Dos Santos, on the other hand, put himself right back in position for a rubber match with Velasquez as a result of his knockout win. While he was defeated by Velasquez in their third meeting, dos Santos still has many great knockouts ahead of him.
2. Vitor Belfort
Event: UFC on FX 8
Opponent: Luke Rockhold
Knockout Method: Spinning heel kick
Vitor Belfort is on a mission to earn another shot at a UFC championship.
After knocking out Michael Bisping with a head kick, Belfort picked up another huge win in Brazil by hitting Luke Rockhold with a spinning heel kick that led to a second straight knockout victory.
Having only lost to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva since returning to the UFC roster in 2009, Belfort has solidified himself as one of the top dogs in the 185-pound class. While his next fight will be held at 205 pounds, another impressive win over Dan Henderson could finally score Belfort a title shot in the middleweight division.
1. Emanuel Newton
Event: Bellator 90
Opponent: Muhammed Lawal
Knockout Method: Spinning backfist
Muhammed Lawal was one of the cornerstones in Bellator MMA's promotion on Spike TV. Many expected the former Strikeforce champion to breeze through a light heavyweight tournament and become the organization's 205-pound champion.
However, Lawal's run came to a shockingly early end in a semifinal bout against Emanuel Newton. Despite his strong wrestling background, Lawal appeared focused on standing with Newton and got caught with a wild spinning backfist that caused him to go limp while still standing.
Newton defeated Mikhail Zayats in the light heavyweight tournament finals and is now expected to rematch Lawal, who eventually won a tournament during the Bellator MMA: 2013 Summer Series.