Johny Hendricks, Robbie Lawler and the Best Knockout Artists in the UFC Today

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

Johny Hendricks, Robbie Lawler and the Best Knockout Artists in the UFC Today

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    What makes a knockout artist? KOs in mixed martial arts are 10 a penny, so lists such as these can’t be entirely result-based.

    Consider Michael Bisping, if you will. The Brit is a terrific fighter and, statistically, ends the majority of his fights via TKO/KO, yet it would be a stretch to label him a “knockout artist.”

    When we talk about knockout artists, what we are really talking about is style. We aren’t talking about fighters who just win via KO; there has to be a level of artistry to the violence.

    Read on for a rundown of the best knockout artists in the UFC today.

Jeremy Stephens

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    Probably the least illustrious name on the list, Jeremy Stephens has nevertheless earned his spot.

    The 27-year-old has repeatedly displayed frightening power inside the Octagon, particularly in wins over Rony Jason and Marcus Davis.

    He has a penchant for knocking men stiffer than an ironing board, leading one to wonder he cakes his gloves in starch before every fight.

Junior dos Santos

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    Junior dos Santos may be a distant second to Cain Velasquez in the heavyweight division, but it’s a testament to his power that we never felt the champ was out of danger until the final bell of their most recent contest.

    The Brazilian’s stunning knockout wins over Gabriel Gonzaga, Mark Hunt and, yes, Velasquez have established him as one of the sport’s premier knockout artists.

    Dos Santos is just one swing of his arm away from winning every time he steps inside the cage.

Robbie Lawler

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    Forgive me for resorting to cliche, but Robbie Lawler’s career truly has been a roller coaster.

    Based on where he was two years ago, who would have predicted that the 31-year-old would be on the verge of winning UFC gold? It’s fair to say that many had written him off, believing he had peaked early.

    Lawler’s power has never been in question, however. Indeed, it has defined him for most of his career.

    Looking back on his knockout wins over Melvin Manhoef, Tiki Ghosn and Matt Lindland, it’s easy to understand why.

Roy Nelson

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    During his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, it was hard to imagine Roy Nelson evolving into a knockout artist.

    After all, his career had largely revolved around his grappling until that point. It wasn’t until “Big Country” turned Brendan Schaub into a figurative noodle that we sat up and took notice.

    A series of violent knockouts followed in the ensuing years against the likes of Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve and Matt Mitrione.

    It would be interesting to see if Nelson’s power would follow him down to light heavyweight if he ever chooses to compete at his more natural weight.

Dan Henderson

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    No list containing the phrase “knockout artist” would be complete without Dan Henderson.

    The MMA Mount Rushmore candidate has made a career out of disintegrating even the most robust chins.

    Witness his knockouts of Michael Bisping and Wanderlei Silva and marvel at his obscene power.

Johny Hendricks

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    Perhaps more than anyone else, Johny Hendricks has earned his place on this list because of the way he knocks his opponents out.

    There was a lumberjack quality to his wins over Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, with each man keeling over like a victim of deforestation.

    One is forced to wonder whether his gloves are laced with chloroform.

Vitor Belfort

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    Controversy has followed Vitor Belfort like a bad smell over the past year. The Brazilian’s use of TRT renders his every in-cage action suspect in this writer’s opinion.

    His knockouts of Michael Bisping, Dan Henderson and Luke Rockhold are the stuff of highlight reels. It’s unfortunate that we’ll never know whether he could have achieved the same results without the juice.

    That being said, it’s not as though he was pillow-fisted before he started taking testosterone with his cornflakes.

    It remains to be seen whether “The Phenom” can continue to put in age-defying performances now that he will be forced to compete naturally.

    And yes, I'm aware that Henderson is also on the list and has escaped scrutiny.