It’s the holiday season, and with the new year quickly approaching, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of 2014. Throughout the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in 16 different categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
It wasn’t your classic 20-second knockout and it didn’t clinch a title. But, for Joe Schilling, the knockout — and the victory — over fellow striking stalwart Melvin Manhoef earned him the honor of “Knockout of the Year.”
Schilling was 1-3 in MMA heading into his Bellator 131 bout with Manhoef. The match-up was destined to be a kickboxing match with four-ounce gloves, as both fighters had made their names competing for the likes of GLORY, Lion Fight and K-1.
Manhoef dominated the first round and looked well on his way to finishing Schilling. Manhoef was crushing Schilling with ground-and-pound from the top as the first round came to a close. The bell certainly saved Schilling.
Despite the tough first frame, Schilling was not to be denied.
Schilling plastered Manhoef against the cage early in the second round, but Manhoef was able to escape and continue his game plan from the first round — be aggressive and press forward. That strategy would backfire for Manhoef, as it was Schilling who landed a counter right hand that knocked out Manhoef before he even hit the canvas. Just like that, Schilling had made a huge statement in his return to the MMA world.
The win sent a message to the rest of the middleweights in Bellator: if you want to come at Schilling, be prepared to get knocked out.
Other Finalists: Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt (UFC 180), Josh Samman vs. Eddie Gordon (UFC 181)
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2014 MMA Award winners.