Remember that this is exclusively a list about traditional kicks, though. Knees are off limits. So, without further ado-- let's get this party started.
10. Rashad Evans KO’s Sean Salmon with a head kick.
The Event: UFC Fight Night 8 on January 25, 2007
Former TUF 2 Champion Rashad Evans was known for his wrestling and boxing skills. Sean Salmon really wasn’t known at all yet. Both of their identities changed in this 2007 bout.
With one fast roundhouse kick to the head, Evans became known as a guy that could put you out with his legs as fast as his hands; and Salmon--a good fighter in his own right—- became partially known as the guy on the receiving end of one of the greatest kicks ever.
9. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s body kick sends Ibragim Magomedov packing.
The Event: PRIDE: Critical Countdown 2005 on June 26, 2005
Before this fight, Magomedov said that he planned on grounding and pounding his way to a victory over his Croatian adversary. Cro Cop didn’t seem to think so. And after beating Fedor’s Red Devil Sports Club teammate around the ring for awhile, one left kick to the body left Magomedov staring for a moment.
Before he slumped to a knee in pain. Game over.
8. Tim Sylva’s head kick KO’s Tra Telligman.
The Event: UFC 54: Boiling Point on August 20, 2005
Though Tim Sylvia was winning the battle, Telligman was clearly there to fight. Unfortunately for him, after the two traded jabs toward the end of the initial round, Sylvia delivered a ferocious left high kick that put his adversary out cold.
Telligman never fought again.
7. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s head kick KO’s Igor Vovchanchyn.
The Event: PRIDE: Total Elimination 2003 on August 10, 2003
At the time, people were wondering which of these fighters was the more dangerous striker. With one high left kick to the head in the first round, Vovchanchyn was left lying on the canvas and the answer was evident.
6. David Loiseau’s spinning back kick to the body leaves Charles McCarthy unable to continue.
The Event: UFC 53: Heavy Hitters on June 4, 2005
During MMA’s early days, spinning Tae Kwon Do style kicks were considered ineffective. However, when Canadian fighter David Loiseau decided to unleash his version of the maneuver on Charles McCarthy in the second round, the last thing onlookers called the move was ‘ineffective’.
Primarily because the kick dropped McCarthy and secured a victory for the Canadian fighter.
5. Georges St. Pierre sets up a TKO victory over Matt Hughes with a left head kick.
The Event: UFC 65: Bad Intentions on November 18, 2006
Matt Hughes is one of only a handful of fighters that can arguably lay claim to being the greatest MMA fighter of all-time. Thus, when Georges St. Pierre dropped him with a devastating left kick to the head and followed things up with several strikes on the ground, it wasn’t just a knockout.
It was a changing of the guard.
4. Pete Williams KO’s Mark “The Hammer” Coleman with a head kick.
The Event: UFC 17: Redemption on May 15, 1998
Coming off the first loss of his career via decision to Maurice Smith, many thought that Mark “The Hammer” Coleman would destroy Lion’s Den fighter, Pete Williams out of anger alone. After all, Coleman was in many people’s eyes an insurmountable force that Smith had simply been lucky to defeat.
But when Williams landed a high kick, a move that was rarely used in MMA at the time, and that was all she wrote.
Perhaps the first great high kick in MMA history.
3. Chuck Liddell’s head kick KO’s Renato “Babalu” Sobral.
The Event: UFC 40: Vendetta on November 22, 2002
Some knockouts can’t help but make the highlight reel. Perhaps no knockout in MMA history has gotten more airtime than when Liddell’s left shin made contact with Babalu’s head back in 2002. It was simply an amazing move that put Babalu to sleep and began to cement the legend that is Chuck Liddell.
2. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s head kick KO’s Wanderlei Silva.
The Event: PRIDE: Final Conflict Absolute on September 10, 2006
This event represents perhaps the last of the open weight tournaments in MMA. In addition, the fight was a rematch of an earlier draw. On top of it all, one would be hard pressed to get two scarier strikers into a ring. In other words, the stakes were quite high.
But on this night, Cro Cop dominated the action, culminating with a high left kick to the head that left Silva out cold on the canvas. It was a move that left no doubt who the more proficient stand up fighter was at the time.
1. Gabriel Gonzaga’s head kick KO’s Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
The Event: UFC 70: Nations Collide on April 21, 2007
This MMA kick makes it to the number one spot for two reasons. First, when Gabriel Gonzaga beat recent PRIDE transfer Mirko Cro Cop it was one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Second, just take a gander at this list. Cro Cop’s name is present three times previous to this one. He defines the high kick in MMA. Thus, to lose in such dramatic fashion by a head kick to a man not known for throwing them was absolutely amazing.
Amazing enough to be named the greatest MMA kick in history, in fact.