Fighters have long utilized the left hook as a way to counter their opponents and inflict fight-ending damage. A proper slip followed by a left hook can change the momentum in any fight, many times resulting in a win – in this list, however, we target something a little different.
In the following examples, we take a look at five times that a single left hook has not only changed the trajectory of a fight, but rather shifted the momentum of an entire career. The selections are specific to UFC bouts, each with a unique storyline line that followed the fight ending blow.
It’s time to fire up the UFC Fight Pass subscription and see who made the list, because these knockouts are must-see for any fight fan.
The fights selected span over the entirety of the UFC’s 23 year history and range from title fights to normal bouts. The placement of each bout on the list is dependent on the magnitude of the knock out from an in-fight perspective, and how it affected the careers of the fighters involved following the bout.
Anthony Johnson vs. Chad Reiner
Long before Anthony Johnson was fighting for titles at 205, he left a path of destruction at welterweight. That path started with Chad Reiner. On less than a week’s notice, the 3-0 Johnson’s power proved to be too much for Reiner, as ‘Rumble’ needed only thirteen seconds to dispose of his smaller foe.
The bout did more than just announce the arrival of Johnson, however, as it knocked Chad Reiner all the way out of the promotion, permanently. Following the loss and subsequent release, Reiner made his way through a variety of promotions, fighting every where from King of the Cage to Bellator, with mixed results. The one place Reiner never fought again was the UFC, proving that the left hook of Johnson is not something any fighter wants to meet.
Johnson eventually moved up to light heavyweight and found success, earning a title shot at UFC 187. His first shot at UFC gold did not go as expected, however, as he lost via submission to current champion, Daniel Cormier. With the help of his new grappling coach Neil Melanson, it appears as though ‘Rumble’ has his ground game under control and looks to make another run at the title. “Rumble” will face Glover Texeira this July at UFC on FOX 20.
Ross Pearson vs. Sam Stout
A talented striker with a long list of ‘Fight of the Night’ accolades, Sam Stout was one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, while active. Peers have stated, however, that following the passing of his legendary trainer Shawn Thompkins, Stout was never quite the same.
That held true towards the end of Stout’s career, as he hit a three fight skid that ultimately led to his retirement in 2015. Although the knockout in question did not end his career on it’s own, it was arguably the most devastating of his last three losses. Stout finished his career at age 32 with a total of 20 fights inside the UFC.
Pearson, meanwhile, found mixed success in the deepest division in the UFC, going 2-2 since the knockout win over Stout. Pearson is expected to face former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale this July in Las Vegas.
Jens Pulver vs. John Lewis
Jens ‘Lil Evil’ Pulver, a man who’s nick name was given to him by his Miletich Fighting Systems stablemates as a reference to the big punching power he managed to pack in a ‘lil’ frame, was the UFC’s first lightweight champion. For evidence of Pulver’s punching power, look no further than UFC 28 in his title defense against John Lewis. The fight ended in under a minute, and followed with more than just a post fight Pulver celebration – it also marked the last fight in Lewis’ career.
John Lewis, a former Jiu Jitsu coach at ‘The Pit’ and Chuck Liddell teammate sported a unique 3-3-3 record heading into the fight with then-champion, Pulver. Although the Miletich fighter was the favorite, many believed Lewis’ size and grappling ability would give the smaller fighter problems. No problems were had, however, as the win was one of the quickest in UFC title history and the only time a UFC champion has ever knocked an opponent directly into retirement.
Following the win, Pulver went on to defend his title three more times before parting ways with the promotion. Following his exodus from the UFC, he found mixed success in various promotions before returning to the promotion in 2006. ‘Lil Evil’ , unfortunately, never quite made it back to championship form. Pulver’s last bout was in 2013 and has since retired from the sport.
‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva 3
Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson made a name for himself in Pride Fighting Championships, defeating almost every foe put in front of him. Despite a stellar record, however, he was never able to win a world title. His lone shot at Pride gold (outside of a tournament setting) was against Chute Boxe product Wanderlei Silva, a man he also faced two years prior in the finals of the 2003 middleweight grand-prix. Silva trounced Jackson on both occasions, one of which left the Tennessee native unconscious, while face down outside of the ring.
Looking to exact revenge on ‘The Axe Murderer’, Jackson met Silva on a third occasion – this time in the UFC. The bout was short and sweet, as ‘Rampage’ found the revenge he was seeking just minutes into the fight, delivering a crushing left hook counter that sent Silva crashing to the canvas. The punch did much more than just knock Silva out – it knocked him straight out of the weight class he dominated for years in the Pride ring. Following the bout, Silva exited the light heavyweight division, instead competing in a series of middleweight and catch weight contests. Silva would return to the light heavyweight class for his final fight in the UFC years later against Brian Stann.
Following the knockout loss, Silva experienced mixed results, while ultimately leaving the UFC and signing with Bellator/ Rizin FF following controversy with the NSAC. Silva’s last outing saw him compete in a tag team grappling contest for Rizin and news on his next bout is unclear.
Jackson went on to fight for UFC gold, but failed in his efforts to regain the title he once held. Following his loss to then-champion Jon Jones, Jackson experienced mixed success while bouncing between the UFC and Bellator. His next fight will be a catch-weight contest against Satoshi Ishii under the Bellator banner.
Carlos Condit vs. Dan Hardy
This knockout may not have had the most significance on the list in terms of career trajectory, but it was arguably the coolest to watch. Both welterweights had a striking base and fans were expecting their fight to take place on the feet. The bout lived up to the hype as both fighters exchanged blows through the first round. Despite having the support of his home country, however, Dan Hardy was on the receiving end of one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history.
As the first frame came to a close, ‘The Outlaw’ and ‘The Natural Born Killer’ both threw left hooks at the same time, with Condit’s landing cleaner, and sooner, knocking the UK fighter out.
The bout marked one of two fights that led the Jackson-Wink product to an interim title bout with Nick Diaz, and ultimately to a shot at the undisputed welterweight belt against Georges St.Pierre. Since his first title run, Condit has had one more championship fight in a close, but unsuccessful effort against Robbie Lawler at UFC 195 – an early candidate for fight of the year. Condit’s next bout is uncertain, but many believe a rematch with Diaz may be on the horizon.
Hardy, meanwhile hit a two-fight skid following the loss, but bounced back with a pair of wins to round out his career prior to his retirement. Hardy is currently a UFC analyst, and rumors of a comeback are circulating.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
When a fight fan thinks of memorable career-altering events occurring to specific fighters, most begin to skim their mental index from the top down – in other words: they start with the most prominent, successful fighting careers first, then work their way down. At the top of any sane human’s list should be the career of Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva.
Silva reigned for roughly seven years at the top of the middleweight division, garnering a UFC record 10 title defenses while also moving up and snatching wins at light heavyweight. Silva’s highlight reel is something most fighters could only fathom, but for the Spider, each knockout was just another day at the office. What happened, you ask?
Well, if you were caught up in a game of Clue on the night of UFC 162, you would have eventually found out that the culprit was none other than Chris Weidman, with a left hook, in theOoctagon.
The punch in question occurred during a patented Silva clowning session, ironically playing as though he was dizzied by earlier strikes. The hook dropped Silva, along with the hopes and dreams of every Brazilian fan in the arena that night, putting an end to ‘The Michael Jordan of MMA’s championship reign.
Following the first round thumping of the champ, the undefeated Weidman went on to defend his title three more times, once against Silva, before surrendering his belt to Luke Rockhold last December. Weidman recently underwent successful neck surgery, although his next fight has yet to be announced.
Silva’s career, meanwhile, has never quite been the same. Following the humiliating loss, Silva endured a freak leg injury in his rematch against Weidman. Following a year-long layoff, the Brazilian came back to take on Nick Diaz, in a win that was ultimately overturned for failed drugs tests on both sides. After the Diaz bout, Silva lost a decision to future champion Michael Bisping. Silva is expected to face Uriah Hall in a re-booking of a bout that was supposed to take place at UFC 198, but no date has been announced.