It’s a new year, so Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2019. Throughout the the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
Knockout of the Year – Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren (UFC 239)
A great knockout will leave fans talking for months, whether it’s due to its pure devastating power, pinpoint precision, or, in many cases, a combination of the two. A historic knockout will change the careers of the fighters on both ends of the finishing blow. That’s exactly what happened at UFC 239 when Jorge Masvidal leapt across the cage and landed a flying knee to the side of Ben Askren’s head.
The two men had engaged in a war of words leading up to their main-card bout, and popular opinion was that Askren should be able to get the fight to the canvas with his world-class wrestling and control Masvidal for the majority of the 15-minute contest on his way to victory. That couldn’t have been more wrong.
Masvidal nonchalantly stood against the side of the Octagon with his hands behind his back before sprinting across the cage and separating Askren from consciousness with a single knee to the temple. He then landed a few extra punches to put a stamp on the victory. Fans, commentators and other fighters all looked on with their jaws on the floor. This was the beginning of the meteoric rise of Masvidal and the downfall of Askren.
Askren took the loss in stride, but would come up short in his next bout with Demian Maia. That fight that would prove to be his final MMA contest.
One of the people watching UFC 239 who took particular notice of Masvidal’s knockout victory was Nate Diaz. He was so impressed that after his co-main event victory at UFC 241 he called out Masvidal and stated that he was the only other “gangster” in the UFC. That call-out led to the creation of the BMF belt and a main-event showdown inside Madison Square Garden at UFC 244. Masvidal picked up a stoppage victory after the third round when the doctor called a halt to the bout due to a cut over Diaz’s eye.
Masvidal is now such a star that several fighters, including Conor McGregor, are more interested in a chance to fight him and potentially capture the BMF belt than they are in fighting for the actual welterweight title. “Gamebred” has become a full-fledged superstar and created a legacy that will last for years, much longer than the five seconds that it took for him to knockout Askren with that incredible flying knee and claim our 2019 “Knockout of the Year” award.
Other finalists: Douglas Lima vs. Michael Page (Bellator 221), Anthony Pettis vs. Stephen Thompson (UFC on ESPN+ 6)
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