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With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best knockouts from March 2019: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Knockout of the Month” award for March.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.
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Johnny Walker def. Misha Cirkunov at UFC 235
Surging light heavyweight contender Johnny Walker (17-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) did it again, this time stopping Misha Cirkunov (14-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) for his third straight first-round UFC win.
Walker rushed to the center to start the contest and pumped a few fakes to gauge his opponent’s reactions. As Cirkunov tried to feel him out and advance, Walker launched into a flying knee that landed clean and sent his opponent to the canvas. Walker jumped on top with battering punches to a covering opponent, and the contest was waved off at the 36-second mark of the round.
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Jorge Masvidal def. Darren Till at UFC on ESPN+ 5
Jorge Masvidal (33-13 MMA, 10-6 UFC) started a bit slow but delivered when it mattered most, scoring a highlight-reel finish of Darren Till (17-2-1 MMA, 5-2-1 UFC) in their welterweight headliner.
Tim had the better opening round in the fight, but as the bout dipped into the second frame, it was obvious “Gamebred” was picking up steam. Eventually, Masvidal delivered and a huge left hand over the top that sent Till crashing to the floor. Another landed on the way down, and Masvidal pounced to finish off the job, though the work was already done, because Till was out cold.
Anthony Pettis def. Stephen Thompson at UFC on ESPN+ 6
Former UFC and WEC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis (22-8 MMA, 9-7 UFC) made a splash in his welterweight debut when he upset former title challenger Stephen Thompson (14-4-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) with a brutal knockout.
After getting picked apart and bloodied for the majority of two rounds, Pettis showed his trademark “Showtime” creativity when he bounced off the octagon fence and proceeded to take off with a superman hook punch that caught Thompson completely off guard and put his lights out for the first time in his career.
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Josh Emmett def. Michael Johnson at UFC on ESPN 2
Josh Emmett (14-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) likely was less than one minute away from a decision loss to Michael Johnson (19-14 MMA, 11-10 UFC) in their featherweight matchup. Then, with one overhand right, he changed everything.
After what was a rather unmemorable affair for more than 14 minutes, Emmett waited for the opening to throw something big. He uncorked a massive right hand that laid out Johnson cold at the 4:14 mark of the final frame for the highlight-reel finish.
Justin Gaethje def. Edson Barboza at UFC on ESPN 2
No punch or kick from Edson Barboza (20-7 MMA, 14-7 UFC) could keep Justin Gaethje (20-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) from implementing his pressure game and delivering the one that mattered most.
After coming at his opponent from the opening bell in the matchup of lightweight contenders, Gaethje cracked Barboza with a sick right hook as he left his hands down while circling out of an exchange. The Brazilian went down, and Gaethje got his second opening-round knockout in a row.
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Things weren’t looking great for Pettis through nearly a full two rounds with Thompson – but one punch changed everything.
Pettis pressed forward to start, but Thompson was ready and slipped in a few kicks as he retreated and looked to keep at kickboxing range. Pettis kept his hands high and fired a few quick kicks to the body, and he maintained constant forward movement. Thompson was actually the busier man, though, and the two kept a strong pace in the early going.
Pettis continued to move forward in the second, but Thompson was measured in his range, staying at kicking distance and chopping away at all levels. Blood poured down Pettis’ face as the round wore on, though he did have success ripping away at his opponent’s legs. Still, Thompson’s movement seemed unaffected, and he used big punches up the middle to batter Pettis’ face.
Thompson was just a step ahead on the exchanges, moving well and countering with great effect. However, Pettis didn’t back down, and the patience paid off, as he jumped forward with a Superman punch that landed clean on the chin and left Thompson out cold at the 4:55 mark of the frame.
“He was catching me with his jab, and I knew he had the range on me, so I was trying to eat him up with the low kicks, get him thinking about the low kicks,” former lightweight champion Pettis said after the win. “I know I was hurting his back leg, which is what set up that right hand.”
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