MMA is an extremely tough sport that can take it’s toll on even the worlds best fighters, but it’s worth remembering that some of these stars also have extensive backgrounds in other combat sports too.
In this article we’ll look back at how some of these stars forays into sports like boxing and kickboxing didn’t always go according to plan and left them suffering nasty knockout losses.
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has been one of the hottest properties in the sport over the past few years, appearing indestructable during a perfect 19-0 run so far.
However, ‘The Last Stylebender’ also has a vast amount of experience as a kickboxer where he racked up no less than 80 fights and won 75 of them – an impressive resume by anyone standards.
That being said, the final fight of his kickboxing career in 2017 resulted in the one and only knockout loss of his entire career.
Adesanya was fighting Alex Pereira at Glory Of Heroes 7 and it delivered some exciting action in the opening rounds, including ‘Izzy’ rocking his opponent.
As such he started the third round in confident fashion with a flying knee, but later Pereira landed cleanly with a left hand to the jaw that flattened Adesanya on the canvas for a highlight-reel KO finish.
Nevertheless, Adesanya bounced back just a few months later with a TKO victory over Melvin Guillard in an MMA fight and within a year was signed by the UFC.
Before her MMA career kicked off, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ Holly Holm was considered to be one of the top-10 female boxers of all-time, having earned 18 title-defenses across multiple weight categories, in addition to being a two-time Ring Magazine ‘Female Boxer Of The Year.’
However, though Holm would put together an impressive 33-2-3 run during that time, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and in 2011 she suffered one of the most devastating knockouts in the history of women’s boxing against Anne Sophie Mathis.
The fight saw both women eating big shots, but Mathis was known to be one of the heaviest hitters in female boxing and by the mid-way point in the fight Holm was starting to get badly beaten up.
There was no quit in Holm though, but in seventh round things started to get completely out of hand, to the extent that after a three-piece combo from Mathis, she fell backwards and was only being held up by the fact the rope was stuck under her armpit while her opponent continued to tee off on her.
Remarkably, after being untangled from the rope, the referee let the clearly spent Holm continue and Mathis proceeded to land an uppercut followed by a right hook that knocked her unconscious, with her limp body left sprawled across the bottom rope.
It’s a true testament to Holm’s character that she would go on to avenge that loss in a rematch just six months later by unanimous decision and then won a further two fights before moving full-time to MMA and eventually winning the UFC bantamweight title.
2008 was a big year for Overeem as he began what would prove to be a long unbeaten run in MMA by winning the strikeforce title, while also earning a huge first round KO victory over notorious bad boy Badr Hari in a kickboxing bout at Dynamite!! 2008.
The following year saw an eagerly anticipated second fight between the two in the semi-finals of K-1’s 2009 World Grand-Prix, and it was equally as hard-hitting as their first clash.
Overeem showed off his strength early in the fight as he effortlessly shoved the 6ft 6″ heavyweight to the canvas, but Hari made him pay when he stood back up and proceeded to clock him with a right hand and then a short right hook that dropped ‘The Reem’ to his hands and knees.
Overeem took his time rising back to his feet, but was then immediately put under the kosh again by the blitzing Hari, who worked to the body then landed a combination upstairs that turned his legs to jelly and followed up with a head kick to put him out on his feet and end the fight.
Mirko Cro Cop
At the peak of his MMA career Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic was famed for being a deadly kickboxer with thunderous knockout power in his kicks, and indeed he also found considerable success competing in K-1 kickboxing too over the years.
In fact, Cro Cop’s kickboxing career actually pre-dates his MMA one, with his first ever fight coming against another legend, Jerome Le Banner at the K-1 Grand-Prix all the way back in 1996, which he won by unanimous decision.
However, things didn’t always go his way during his 26-8 kickboxing run, and the one man in particular who proved to be a thorn in his flesh was another decorated star of that era, Ernesto Hoost.
In only his second career fight, Cro Cop fought Hoost for the first time and ‘Mr Perfect’ put on a leg kick clinic as he continually chopped away at the Croatian fighter’s back leg in a ruthless fashion that by the third round left him in such pain that he was unable to continue, resulting in a KO finish.
Three years later the two would meet again in the final of the 1999 K-1 Grand-Prix and this time Cro Cop came out more aggressive, but Hoost remained clinical, dropping him with a body shot and then when he rose back up picked out a perfect liver shot to seal another third round KO victory.
A former kickboxer, Jairzinho Rosenstruik has transitioned to become one of the hottest heavyweight properties in the UFC over the past few years, compiling four victories in a row, all by way of strikes, including knocking out both Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem.
His kickboxing record is just as impressive, with a staggering 64 T(KO)’s in 76 career victories, but he did also suffer two KO losses along the way.
The first came all the way back in 2011 when Ricardo Soneca unleashed a three-piece combo ending in a left hook that left him flat on his back on the canvas, unable to get back up.
Almost a year-and-a-half later Rosenstruik fought Raul Catinas in Romania and suffered the same fate, with a left hook again being the killer blow, this time sending his mouthpiece into orbit as he was floored by the impact.
However, it’s a credit to Rozenstruik that he’s never been stopped again in either kickboxing or MMA during the eight years since that fight.
Mark Hunt’s career began in kickboxing and later he became an even bigger star in MMA, where he was known not only for being a KO specialist, but also for being exceptionally hard to finish via strikes.
In fact, in his 43-fight kickboxing career Hunt was finished on just two occasions, and one of those was a corner stoppage.
The other came in what would prove to be his last ever kickboxing fight in 2008 against K-1 kickboxing legend Semmy Schilt.
In all fairness to Hunt the size difference between the two was staggering, with the New Zealander standing just 5ft 10″ tall with a 72″ reach, while Schilt was a man mountain at 6ft 11″ tall with an 88″ reach, giving it the feel of a David vs. Goliath battle.
Unfortunately for Hunt, as a four-time K-1 champion Schilt wasn’t just all size and no substance and he’d demonstrate that in some style by landing a perfectly placed spinning back kick to the body that folded Hunt for a knockout finish just 3 minutes into the fight.
In 2002 former UFC tournament winner Don Frye was still making waves in the MMA world, having amassed a 15-1 record and with his prior fight being a TKO victory over Yoshihiro Takayama that would prove to be the ‘Fight Of The Year.’
Next up Frye agreed to what would be his one and only kickboxing bout against a legend of the sport in Jerome Le Banner at PRIDE Shockwave.
Frye started the fight aggressively, but it was soon Le Banner who took a firm grip of the reigns when he wobbled him with a right hook and then followed up with a head kick and powerful left hand, which forced a standing count from the referee.
Le Banner smelled blood in the water now and started to quick hunt down his prey, leading to him cornering Frye and then blasting him with another huge straight left followed by a right hook that left ‘The Predator’ eating more big shots as he slowly sunk unconscious to the canvas.
Unfortunately for Frye this fight would signal the start of a slump in his career as he’d go winless in his next five MMA fights and never again reached the heights he had previously.
In 2012, a little over a year after his time in the UFC came to an end, Marcus ‘The Irish Hand-Grenade’ Davis agreed to undertake a kickboxing bout against Ireland’s own Mark Casserly at Primal Fighting Championships 4 in Dublin.
A former professional boxer, Davis looked to lay hands on the much taller Casserly early in the opening round.
However, Casserly bided his time and just over two minutes into the round he suddenly unleashed a right head kick that landed flush to the oncoming Davis’ jawline and brutally knocked him out.
MMA bad boy Gilbert Yvel has always been a menacing figure in the cage, but how did he fare when he fought in his first ever kickboxing bout back in 2002?
At the time Yvel’s MMA form was somewhat patchy, having suffered a few losses in the PRIDE organization, before getting a couple of wins under his belt in other promotions.
Remarkably, just a few weeks before his kickboxing bout with Ray Sefo at the K-1 World Grand Prix, Yvel had fought in an MMA bout against Jeremy Horn, losing by unanimous decision.
The K-1 fight would go even worse though, with Sefo landing punishing blows to the body and thunderous leg kicks, and in the second round one such kick saw Yvel dropping straight to the canvas grimacing in pain.
He would get back up and keep fighting, but his injured limb was now all but useless and a couple of more chopping blows to it would floor him once again to end the fight by KO.
To be fair to Conor McGregor, his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr doesn’t really qualify as being a brutal knockout, but it was certainly a humbling experience for the MMA superstar, who up until that point had never been stopped by strikes in his career.
If you are going to take a loss like that though, it may as well come against the best, and McGregor taking on one of the greatest boxers of all time in his professional boxing debut certainly fits the bill.
McGregor actually acquitted himself admirably in the early stages of the contest, managing to connect cleanly against the defensive mastermind and winning several rounds.
However, he burned through a lot of energy in the first third of the fight and began to slow down, while Mayweather was conserving his own energy and began to gradually turn up the heat and uncharacteristically took the fight to the Irishman.
Mayweather admitted later that he and his team had expected to finish McGregor earlier, but in the end ‘The Notorious’ managed to survive until the 10th round, when repeated hard punches to the head began to take the fight out of him and eventually led to the referee saving him from further punishment as ‘Money’ began to tee off for the TKO stoppage.