With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best knockouts from July 2023: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s Knockout of the Month award for July.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.
Nominee: Robbie Lawler def. Niko Price at UFC 290
MMA retirement bouts don’t typically end well for those riding off into the sunset. But for Robbie Lawler (30-16 MMA, 15-10 UFC), his career was capped off in fairytale fashion.
In what was declared ahead of time as his final MMA bout, former UFC champ Lawler knocked out Niko Price with some vintage clinch work 38 seconds into Round 1 of the welterweight bout.
Nominee: Dricus Du Plessis def. Robert Whittaker at UFC 290
Dricus Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) took care of business in the biggest fight of his career thus far with an upset of former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
Despite entering as a sizable underdog, Du Plessis’ hands led to a TKO finish at 2:23 of the second round. He took Whittaker down an inflicted some damage late in the first frame before taking over in the second to finish the fight with a flurry of punches.
Nominee: Roman Kopylov def. Claudio Ribeiro at UFC 291
Roman Kopylov (11-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) scores his third consecutive knockout in the middleweight division when he flattened Claudio Ribeiro with a sick kick.
The finish consisted of a left high kick and a solo hammerfist follow-up. Ribeiro appeared not to be all there before the punch, but the hammerfist erased any doubt.
Nominee: Justin Gaethje def. Dustin Poirier at UFC 291
Justin Gaethje (25-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) added another accolade to his legendary when he claimed the “BMF” title against Dustin Poirier.
After suffering a fourth-round TKO defeat to Poirier in their Fight of the Year encounter in April 2018, Gaethje avenged his loss in the lightweight rematch by second-round head kick knockout.
Nominee: Chihiro Suzuki def. Patricio Freire at Rizin FF – Super Rizin 2
Bellator champ Patricio Freire rolled the dice in taking a super short-notice fight with Chihiro Suzuki (11-3) under the Rizin banner in Japan, and it didn’t pay off.
Just weeks after falling short of three-division champ status against Sergio Pettis, “Pitbull” tried to bounce back against Suzuki. Instead, he got caught with a massive punch, was knocked out for the first time in his career and now finds himself on the first two-fight losing skid of his career.
The winner: Justin Gaethje
In what was tapped as a fight between two of the sport’s most violent professionals, Gaethje showed why he’s the baddest.
At UFC 291, Gaethje knocked out Poirier with a head kick at 1:00 of Round 2 to become the second-ever BMF champion. The lightweight main event took place at Delta Center in Salt Lake City.
The right leg high kick was hidden behind a punch, but somewhat blocked by Poirier’s arm. Despite the defense, Gaethje’s power broke through. Poirier toppled over backward and ate a Gaethje follow-up punch. Referee Herb Dean baseball slid into the picture and waved off the fight.
The stoppage came after a close first round. Poirier even had a moment in Round 1 where he stunned Gaethje with a punch. However, Gaethje hammered Poirier with leg kicks throughout the opening five minutes, perhaps a mental factor that at least in part tricked Poirier into thinking the final blow was going low.
The fight Saturday wasn’t the first time Gaethje and Poirier fought. In April 2018, Poirier defeated Gaethje by TKO in a back-and-forth brawl.
Over five years later, Gaethje avenges the loss and becomes the second BMF champion following the retirement of Jorge Masvidal, who attended UFC 291 to present the championship during the official announcement.
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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie