Melvin Guillard and the 7 Best Lightweight Knockout Artists

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2014

Melvin Guillard and the 7 Best Lightweight Knockout Artists

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    Associated Press

    Despite recent departures by longtime divisional standouts Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida, the UFC lightweight roster has steadily evolved.

    Promotional additions like Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson and Bobby Green have padded an expanding totem pole of top contenders. Let's not forget the maturation of key names like Khabib Nurmagomedov, T.J. Grant and Michael Johnson, eiher.

    The one constant that has fueled the 155-pound weight class has been its ability to produce top-level finishers.

    Based on recent victories and overall effectiveness, here are the seven best lightweight knockout artists in the UFC today. Enjoy. 

7. Ross Pearson

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Ross Pearson may not be the most technical striker in the division, but boy is he one of the strongest.

    With TKOs over George Sotiropoulos and Ryan Couture, the Englishman has displayed top-level finishing power since making his return to 155 back in 2012.

    Pearson is exceptionally well inside due to his ability to land dirty boxing and powerful uppercuts. It's his versatility and movement that sometimes gets him in trouble.

    Either way, "The Real Deal" should still be looked at as one of the most dangerous punchers in the division. One who often fights with a chip on his shoulder. 

6. Abel Trujillo

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    As dangerous as any lightweight in the UFC when the chips are on the table, Abel Trujillo is starting to live up to his nickname, "The Killa."

    The 30-year-old recently blasted a very formidable Jamie Varner back to the '90s this past February, showcasing his sustainability and sheer grit when thrown into an all-out dog fight.

    What makes Trujillo even more dangerous and effective in the striking department is that he throws every ounce of power and ill-will into each one of his punches. That's hard to find these days, when most guys offensively calculate to score points.

    He's a throwback of sorts and a name to truly watch as he inches his way toward the division's Top 10. 

5. Donald Cerrone

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Donald Cerrone may not possess the knockout resume that other lightweights on this list do, but he most certainly possesses similar skill.

    Dressed with world-class kickboxing and perfect timing to match, "The Cowboy" has started to deliver highlight-reel knockouts.

    None more impressive than his first-round finish over Melvin Guillard back at UFC 150.

    Cerrone isn't the most feared striker in the game because it often takes him time to get going. However, once he gets loose and finds his footing, the former WEC champion can stand and bang with anyone.

    It seems like the 30-year-old is currently a man on a mission. Don't be surprised if Cerrone starts finishing more opponents in similar fashion. 

4. Gilbert Melendez

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Gilbert Melendez hasn't recorded a knockout victory since 2011, but his elite boxing and tactical aggression still help make the former Strikeforce standout a ticking time bomb.

    While "El Nino" has utilized a more patient approach in attacking world-class opponents over the years, don't be fooled by his past few outings.

    If Diego Sanchez didn't possess the chin of a Greyhound bus, Melendez would have already posted a finish in the UFC.

    In any case, once Melendez is on the offensive and opts to exchange inside, there's nobody more dangerous. That's why half of his career wins have been by knockout. 

3. Edson Barboza

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    There's no lightweight in the world quite as impressive in the kicking department as Edson "Head Kick" Barboza.

    While the Brazilian's true nickname isn't "Head Kick," his perennial approach inside the Octagon suggests it should be.

    Over the years, Barboza has been the poster boy for launching head kicks, hurting an opponent and separating them from their senses. His most famous finish came via wheel kick against Terry Etim back in 2012.

    The scary thing is that the 28-year-old is only getting better. Once his hands and borderline perfected technique catch up to him, there's no telling how many top guys he'll drop. 

2. Anthony Pettis

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    When it comes to technique, timing and perfectly constructed knockouts, Anthony Pettis is in a class of his own.

    Whether it's superkicks off the cage or devastating liver shots, the UFC lightweight champion can do it all.

    What's more, he does it against the very best fighters in the division.

    However, what makes "Showtime" even more of a murderer on his feet is the fact that he's agile. His movement is rarely mirrored inside the cage and it's something that has given the 27-year-old the ability to play all angles.

    If his evolution as a fighter goes as planned, Pettis could go down as the most dangerous striker the lightweight division has ever encountered. 

1. Melvin Guillard

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    Through all of his struggles and transgressions inside the Octagon, Melvin Guillard still remains the best knockout specialist in the division.

    Blessed with unworldly power capable of smashing concrete, "The Young Assassin" is as dangerous as it gets. The fact that his opponents know what's coming and still fall short speaks wonders to his overwhelming pace and persistence.

    While some names on this list conduct their work under more clean circumstances, it has been Guillard's vicious prowess and free-flying aggression that has fueled 20 career knockouts.

    At the end of the day, the 30-year-old has logged countless minutes inside the Octagon and has shown no signs of declining. That should count for something for a guy who has stuck around on knockout power alone.


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