When a spinning kick so beautifully timed lands to the jaw of a fighter, eyeballs roll and fans go nuts. Welcome to the countdown…
While a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter is primarily focused on winning a fight in any way possible, he or she also has bosses as well as thousands and thousands of screaming fans to win over.
Fight fans don’t tune into a fight hoping for a 15 to 25 minute snooze fest, but rather for back and forth action and sensational finishes.
That being said, some of the most successful and adored fighters have been those who are willing to think outside of the box, try new things, and take risks. MMA is a show in its own right, and those capable of pulling off the flashiest of moves are those who are remembered forever.
One of the most revered and sought after moves in fighting is the spinning kick: a tremendously difficult, yet overly exciting strike.
The spinning kick must be timed perfectly, and landed right on the money, making it a move we don’t see every day. However, we have seen our fair share of devastating spinning kicks, some that have even ended the night for the victim.
Let’s take a look at the 6 best spinning kick knockouts in UFC history:
6. Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt – UFC 160
While spinning kicks aren’t too often seen in MMA period, it’s a rare sight to see a bulldozing heavyweight have the ability to execute such a crafty move, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before.
UFC 160, which went down on May 25, 2013 from Las Vegas, Nevada, featured a heavyweight tilt between former divisional kingpin Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos and former K-1 champion Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt.
While both are known for their breathtaking knockout power, Hunt is known more for his elite level kickboxing skills, while “Cigano” is noted as a dangerous boxer.
However, it was the Brazilian who showed off his vast repertoire in this contest, unloading on a brutal spinning wheel kick in the final frame. Although it just grazed the head of “The Super Samoan”, Hunt was sent crashing to the canvas, and the bout was stopped soon thereafter.
An incredible knockout for Dos Santos to say the least.
5. Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland – UFC 165
Previously dominant former bantamweight champion Renan “The Baron” Barao put his then held interim 135 pound title on the line against Eddie Wineland back at UFC 165 in September 2013.
Known primarily for his elite level Muay Thai and dangerous striking, it isn’t odd to see Barao repeatedly batter opponents with kicks, but he dug deep into his bag of tricks for this bout.
Early on in the second round, Barao and Wineland were in close quarters exchanging strikes when the Brazilian unleashed a perfectly disguised spinning attack.
A spinning back kick in the truest of sense, Barao perfectly placed the blow square on the face of Wineland, rocking his opponent before finishing it off with a flurry of punches.
Not only an amazing spinning kick knockout, but one of the best knockouts in recent memory as well.
4. Stephen Thompson vs. Jake Ellenberger – TUF 21 Finale
Hot off the heels of the massively hyped UFC 189 (July 11, 2015), The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 Finale went down on Sunday July 12, 2015 from Las Vegas, Nevada.
The main event featured an intriguing welterweight battle between powerful veteran Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger and rising contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Holding a fifth degree black belt in Karate and a black belt in American Kickboxing, “Wonderboy” could arguably be considered one of the very best strikers in all of MMA. With a deep arsenal of unpredictable attacks, Thompson’s kicks are second to none.
Early on in the fight, the discrepancy between the two fighter’s striking levels was quite evident, as Thompson began to pick apart and batter Ellenberger.
“Wonderboy” would actually land two devastating spinning hook kicks throughout the bout, with the latter finishing “The Juggernaut” off late in the first stanza.
A perfectly executed move from a tactician on the feet.
3. Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold – UFC on FX 8
Serving as the last Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold made his way to the UFC in 2013 to face off with controversial Brazilian legend Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the main event of UFC on FX 8.
Known as one of the most powerful and explosive strikers in the history of the sport, Belfort has shown the ability to end a fight with the blink of an eye, and in the end, he ended up spoiling Rockhold’s welcome party.
Just minutes into the first round, “The Phenom” would throw a nasty spinning wheel kick, drilling Rockhold and sending the ex-Strikeforce boss down hard.
Although Belfort has been criticized for his use of the now banned testosterone-replacement-therapy (TRT) during this time, it was an illustrious finish nonetheless.
To make it more impressive, Rockhold hasn’t lost since, recently capturing the UFC middleweight championship last December.
2. Uriah Hall vs. Adam Cella – TUF 17
Uriah Hall, a supremely talented striker and rising middleweight talent, rose to prominence on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter after he scored one of the most impressive knockouts in show history.
He would go on to lose in the finale, and has since had an up and down UFC tenure, but he will always be remembered for his sensational knockout.
Taking on Adam Cella in the regular season of the show, “Primetime” would land an absolutely brutal spinning kick near the end of the first round, sending a motionless Cella plummeting to the mat.
It was downright scary, but it’s without a doubt one of the best spinning kick knockouts we’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.
It was moves like this that led many to compare Hall to legendary former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and moves that will be remembered forever.
1. Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim – UFC 142
When talking about the very best spinning kick knockouts in promotional history, one in particular inevitably comes to mind.
A vicious Muay Thai practitioner, Edson “Junior” Barboza has made a name for himself by possessing some of the most lethal kicks in the sport today.
Unfortunately for Terry Etim, Barboza would throw his most devastating strike during their UFC 142 bout back in January 2012.
Late in the fight, “Junior” put everything he had into a perfectly timed spinning wheel kick that ended up landing right across the face of Etim. With the crowd in shock, a stiffened Etim fell to the ground, as Barboza scored the very best spinning kick knockout of all-time.
The knockout has since been played repeatedly in highlight reels, and I have a feeling it will continued to be shown for a very long time.