Top 5 Comeback TKO/KO Wins in the UFC

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Yair Rodriguez is seen after his win over Brian Ortega in their mixed martial arts bout at UFC on ABC 3, Saturday, July 16, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Dec 25, 2022, 7:27 PM
  • These are the top 5 comeback TKO/KO wins in the UFC.
  • Two from the list happened this 2022.
  • Leon Edwards leads the list.

There is no denying that one of the best storylines in sports is come-from-behind victories, and MMA, particularly the UFC, is no stranger to this. In fact, a handful of comeback victories were witnessed inside the Octagon throughout the promotion’s history. It gave fans the most exciting MMA fight odds and the opportunity to place their respective UFC best bets.

Today, let’s look back at the top five comebacks in UFC history, where fighters who are down in the judges’ scorecards engineered a come-from-behind victory and unleashed a TKO/KO triumph. These in-bout rallies are courtesy of a fighter’s heart and grit to fight until the final bell. It also shows that combat sport is a brutal sport as one strike can change the outcome of a match which gives the underdog the victory.

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman II

First on the list is Leon Edwards, who fought Kamaru Usman for the UFC Welterweight Title in their August 2022 rematch for the main event of UFC 278. It was the second time in his career that “Rocky” faced “The Nigerian Nightmare” after Usman unanimously beat him in their first match in December 2015. The British MMA superstar had a great start against the defending champion, but Usman clearly won the next three rounds and was seemingly cruising into another decision win from the judges’ scorecards.

However, after an inspiring talk to his corner before the last round, Edwards was able to set up his signature head kick attack, which caught Usman in the final minute of the match. It landed perfectly on Usman’s chin and he was immediately knocked down the canvas. This win not only snapped Kamaru Usman’s unbeaten run in the UFC but also crowned Leon Edwards as the new undisputed welterweight champion of the world.

Yair Rodriguez vs. The Korean Zombie

Second on the list is the last-second knockout of Yair Rodriguez against Chan Sung Jung, also known as “The Korean Zombie,” in November 2018 when they headlined the fight night in Denver, Colorado. It was a back-and-forth and exciting match between the two featherweight contenders, but the Korean was well ahead of the scorecards. But the Mexican still managed to steal the victory courtesy of an elbow knockout in the dying seconds of the bout.

Rodriguez decided to go on a last blitz of attack in the hopes of connecting; true enough, his last hope of victory came in with a vicious right elbow strike to Chan Sung Jung’s chin that sent him crashing down and face-first into the mat. Part of this last-second knockout was also a massive mistake by “The Korean Zombie,” who moved forward and exchanged with Rodriguez. This resulted in the seventh UFC career win for the Mexican and the second UFC loss for the Korean.

Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya

Alex Pereira proved to be Israel Adesanya’s combat sports kryptonite after another come-from-behind win in their UFC Middleweight Title showdown in November 2022. Long before their UFC fight, the pair faced each other in kickboxing twice as Pereira scored a decision win in the first match and a third-round knockout in the second one. In their third meeting, the Brazilian challenger was well behind in points during the first four rounds, then uncorked an epic comeback in the final round.

“Poatan” inflicted damage to the “Last Stylebender” through his patented power left hook punch which made Adesanya unable to defend himself, thus forcing the referee to stop the fight with under three minutes remaining in the match. Pereira not only became the undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion, but he also halted the dominant title run of Adesanya. This victory was more impressive because the Brazilian only needed eight MMA career fights and four UFC wins to reach the pinnacle of success.

Darren Elkins vs. Mirsad Bektic

Very few UFC fights have a movie-like narrative in terms of epic comebacks, and the featherweight encounter of Darren Elkins and Mirsad Bektic fits the bill. In March 2017, Elkins, a veteran fighter, fought a young up-and-comer undefeated contender Bektic inside the Octagon. Bektic has punished Elkins right from the get-go with his solid and precise striking. Elkins’s face was covered in blood due to the damage he sustained in the first two rounds.

But because of his exponential experience, heart and never-give-up attitude, Elkins scored an incredible comeback victory by capitalizing on Bektic’s blunder of leaving himself wide open for punches. The Team Alpha Male representative pressed Bektic against the cage in the third round and found an opening through punches to his chin which made him unconscious, and eventually finished it off via a head kick. It was Elkins’ 11th UFC win and Bektic’s first career defeat in 12 bouts.

Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald II

In July 2015, Robbie Lawler’s first title defense went down against a familiar foe, Rory MacDonald, as the co-main event of UFC 189. Lawler was fresh off his title triumph over Johnny Hendricks eight months earlier and was in danger of losing his belt to MacDonald as he controlled the entirety of the first four rounds of the championship fight. Additionally, the damage was visible on Lawler’s face, with more cuts and blood surrounding it.

However, when the fifth round began, the championship experience kicked in for Lawler and he started to hunt down his challenger through constant pressure in the last round. This pressure became the champion’s primary weapon to wreck MacDonald’s nose through his punches, eventually hurting him, thus scoring the TKO victory. In the end, Lawler was successful in his first title defense as the 170-pound champion.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with B.A in Communication and is currently a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with B.A in Communication and is currently a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.