In the sport of mixed martial arts, certain fighters develop a reputation for having incredible knockout power. In the last decade, two of the best in this category have been former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell and Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva.
However, Liddell and Silva have both become susceptible to the thing they’ve made their living on—the knockout. Back-to-back first-round knockout losses to Rashad Evans and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua have left many speculating that Liddell’s career might be finished.
Silva has lost four of his last five fights, and is hoping that a move from Light Heavyweight to Middleweight will help rejuvenate his career.
Both of these fighters can, and should, be considered great knockout artists, but that’s not what this list is about. This is a list for the top 10 power punchers in MMA today, fighters that you expect to do damage when they step into the ring.
So who exactly are the top ten hardest hitters in MMA today?
Let the countdown begin!
No. 10: "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler
Lawler has 13 TKO victories to his name, and was the reigning Middleweight Champion of the now-defunct Elite XC organization.
Nicknamed "Ruthless" for his aggression and relentlessness, Lawler is a tenacious striker who always looks to move forward.
Lawler also has some of the best takedown defense in the game. That means that when you fight Robbie Lawler, you don’t have many options but to stand and strike with him, and more than likely, you are going to get knocked out.
Notable Knockouts: Scott Smith, Murilo "Ninja" Rua, Frank Trigg, Joey Villasenor.
No. 9: Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson is an Olympic-caliber wrestler who possesses power both on his feet and on the ground.
Henderson is not a striker in the way many of the fighters on this list are. Rather, he uses his wrestling to establish dominant position on the ground, at which point he unloads textbook ground-and-pound.
However, Henderson also possesses knockout power on the feet, as evidenced by his 10 (T)KO victories.
Notable Knockouts: Wanderlei Silva, Akihiro Gono, Ryo Chonan, Murilo Bustamante, Renzo Gracie.
No. 8: Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort
Belfort’s combination of power and blazing speed lands him at No. 8 on our list.
Belfort has the ability to throw hard punches in numbers, overwhelming his opponents. He connected with more than 50 punches in about a 20-second period against Wanderlei Silva, chasing him across the cage and pinning him in the corner for a TKO.
A recent move to Middleweight has made Belfort even more dangerous, as is apparent by his 37-second demolition of Matt Lindland last January.
Notable Knockouts: Matt Lindland, Terry Martin, Ivan Serati, Randy Couture, Marvin Eastman, Wanderlei Silva, Tank Abbott.
No. 7: Thiago Silva
Silva is a prototypical Muai Thai fighter. While not particularly tall at 6’1”, Silva uses his lanky limbs to attack from the outside, to a tune of 10 knockouts in 13 victories.
Undefeated before a first-round knockout to Lyota Machida, Silva is at his best when he uses his devastating kicks to lower his opponent’s hands, and which point he comes over the top with a barrage of straights and hooks.
Notable Knockouts: Houston Alexander, Tomasz Drwal, James Irvin.
No. 6: Thiago "Pitbull" Alves
The second American Top Team Member on this list (the first being Thiago Silva), Alves is a complete striker, sporting 10 knockout wins.
Alves has the ability to throw heavy punches from all angles and positions, even while backing up. He possesses outstanding counterpunching, and strong takedown defense that allows him to keep the fight on the feet.
However, Alves’ most dangerous quality is his ability to transition seamlessly between punches and standing knees. Often times Alves will set up his strikes with a high knee to the head, or will knock an opponent to the ground with a knee and follow up with a ground and pound.
Notable Knockouts: Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan, Chris Lytle, Tony DeSouza.
No. 5: Brock Lesnar
Resembling a bear as much as a man, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has the very definition of raw power.
Lesnar forced Min Soo Kim to submit from rabbit punches from the half guard. Frank Mir compared Lesnar’s XXL hands to lunchboxes. Lesnar floored Heath Herring with a glancing blow, then knocked out UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture to win the heavyweight title.
Scariest of all, Lesnar is only four fights into his mixed martial arts career. More time spent with a boxing coach could mean that Lesnar will move up this list quickly.
Notable Knockouts: Randy Couture.
No. 4: Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko
Arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko is one of the strongest fighters in mixed martial arts.
Despite having more wins by submission than knockout, Fedor is more than competent on his feet. His greatest striking asset is his ability to throw a strong punch while hurt. Andrei Arlovski found early success against Fedor from the outside, only to get knocked out cold from an overhand right when he tried to close the distance.
Fedor also finishes fights early. All of his seven knockout wins have come in the first round, and while his 36-second victory against Tim Silva was via rear naked choke, it was a barrage of punches that knocked Silva to the ground and forced him to relinquish his back.
Notable Knockouts: Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski.
No. 3: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Jackson is probably the hardest puncher in the light heavyweight division, and his punching technique resembles that of a boxer.
Jackson has displayed knockout power in both hands, knocking out Chuck Liddell with his right hand and Wanderlei Silva with his left.
At the time, Jackson’s second knockout of Liddell was especially impressive. Before their rematch, Liddell had fought 23 times. Of those 23 fights, the only other person to knock Liddell out was Randy Couture. Jackson also holds the distinction as the only fighter ever to knock out Liddell twice.
Notable Knockouts: Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell (twice), Marvin Eastman, Kevin Randleman.
No. 2: Melvin Manhoef
Melvin Manhoef is not a household name in the United States, but he has left a wake of destruction fighting for PRIDE and K-1.
Manhoef boasts a 23-5 record, with 22 of those 23 wins coming by way of KO or TKO.
Capable of fighting at either 185 lbs or 205 lbs, Manhoef packs an incredible amount of power into his 5’8” frame. He typically throws winding haymakers, but they come at such velocity that his opponents can rarely take advantage of his lowered hands.
Notable Knockouts: Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuruba, Ian Freeman, Evangelista Santos.
No. 1: Shane Carwin
Undefeated Heavyweight wrecking machine Shane Carwin comes in at No. 1 on this list and anyone who disagrees is completely out of their mind.
Carwin is 11-0 and has finished every fight in the very first round, with seven KO or TKO stoppages. In fact, only one of his opponents has even made it past the two-minute mark, and he was knocked out at 2:11.
The punch he used to knockout Gabriel Gonzaga was a short right with no hip or shoulder pivot whatsoever. Joe Rogan even described Carwin’s ground-and-pound punches as “ground-shaking”. Literally, the ground was shaking underneath Rogan as he watched the fight.
As such, fight fans are eagerly anticipating Carwin’s next match, wondering if his opponent can even make it past the first horn.
Notable Knockouts: Gabriel Gonzaga, Christian Wellisch.
Rashad Evans, Patrick Cote, Gabriel Gonzaga, Chris Leben, B.J Penn, Aleksander Emelianenko.
Mitch Ciccarelli is a staff writer for MMAMadness.com. This article was orginally posted there.
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