With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best knockouts from May 2020: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Knockout of the Month” award for May.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.
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Calvin Kattar def. Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249
Calvin Kattar (21-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) proved once again why he’s one of the top rising contenders to watch at featherweight when he made a mess of Jeremy Stephens (28-18 MMA, 15-17 UFC) with some brutal fight-ending strikes.
Kattar bided his time and connected with a punishing elbow that dropped Stephens to the canvas. He proceeded to jump on Stephens, connecting with follow up shots that split “Lil’ Heathen” open and set up the second-round stoppage.
Francis Ngannou def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249
Francis Ngannou’s (15-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) power may be unmatched in MMA. The heavyweight contender reminded every one of his power when he stopped Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) quickly into their heavyweight bout.
Ngannou just needed just 20 seconds to put away Rozenstruik with a vicious knockout. Rozenstruik landed a few leg kicks that connected well on Ngannou. But shortly after that, Ngannou rushed Rozenstruik. Both began to throw, and just a couple seconds into their exchange, Ngannou floored Rozenstruik with a powerful left hook. He followed up with ground-and-pound, but it was clear Rozenstruik was already out.
Brian Kelleher def. Hunter Azure at UFC 249
Brian Kelleher’s (21-10 MMA, 5-3 UFC) short-notice move up to the featherweight division paid off in spade when he flattened Hunter Azure (8-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) with a highlight-reel knockout.
After both men had their moments though more than a round, Kelleher landed a left hook that sent Azure crashing to the canvas. Azure was out on impact, but Kelleher landed crushing follow-up shot for good measure.
Miguel Baeza def. Matt Brown at UFC on ESPN 8
Miguel Baeza (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) remained undefeated in his career and netted his biggest win to date when he stopped longtime welterweight veteran Matt Brown (22-16 MMA, 15-10 UFC) by knockout.
After surviving a scare from Brown’s offense in the first frame, Baeza managed to turn the tide and hurt his opponent in the closing moments. He stayed on Brown to start the second, landing more strikes that led to a knockdown and a finish of the fight.
Alistair Overeem def. Walt Harris at UFC on ESPN 8
Alistair Overeem (46-18 MMA, 11-7 UFC) played the unfortunate villain in Walt Harris’ (13-8 MMA, 6-7 UFC) emotional comeback story when he rallied to win their heavyweight main event.
Overeem was compassionate to Harris’ journey back to the cage after the shocking murder of his stepdaughter this past fall, but promised it would be “all business” when fight night arrived. It was a wild back-and-forth fight, with both men knocking each other down. Overeem did it better, though, and picked up the stoppage win at the 3:00 mark of Round 2.
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The Winner: Calvin Kattar
Kattar earned arguably the biggest win of his career when he stopped Stephens in highlight-reel fashion.
In what was entirely a standup fight, Kattar find an opening to land a sickening elbow in the second round that dropped and stopped Stephens for the thrilling finish. The time of the stoppage was 2:42.
Stephens came out with his usual aggression, throwing hard punches and a crisp body kick at Kattar. He followed with a hard right hand, which aded up to a strong start for “Lil’ Heathen.” Kattar struggled to get into a groove, but landed some good leg kicks in between Stephens’ attacks. Both men settled into the fight, but Stephens was clearly leading the dance in the first round, although Kattar recovered some early lost ground.
Both men showed visible damage from leg kicks going into the second round, and they started the frame by battering each other there some more. Stephens seemed to have the worse of it, but it didn’t stop him from pushing forward. Kattar gained confidence, though, and started to find his range a couple minutes into the round. He tagged Stephens with hooks and uppercuts, although Stephens showed his veteran savvy and didn’t allow himself to be flustered. He got too comfortable, though, because Kattar landed a massive right elbow that dropped Stephens. He swarmed with some punches, busting Stephens open with another elbow and forcing the fight to be called off at the 2:42 mark of Round 2.
“I’ve been learning as I’ve been going and I’ve been doing it with tough fights,” Kattar said in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. “I’m happy to be here and I feel like I’m just scratching these surface and there featherweights are in big trouble when I put it all together.”