Last-second finishes in UFC history: Where Max Holloway’s stunning KO ranks among the five latest stoppages


Buzzer-beater finishes are a rarity in UFC history, but the promotion got a legendary entry into the category at UFC 300 on Saturday night. In the UFC’s historic event, Max Holloway knocked Justin Gathje out cold in literally the last second of their fight for the ceremonial “BMF” championship.

Holloway’s win was just the third in UFC history to come in the final second of a fight, with all three of those moments coming in legendary fashion.

But was Holloway’s win the greatest of those three UFC buzzer-beaters? We took a moment to sit down and rank five of the times fighters pulled off wins in the dying moments of fights.

No. 5 — Jairzinho Rozenstruik lands Hail Mary KO on Alistair Overeem, UFC Fight Night (2019)

Though Overeem still disputes this stoppage, it was truly a wild moment. The former Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight champion was in complete control of this five-round main event in Washington D.C. when as he was trying to get on his bike and hold on to the final bell, Rozenstruik landed a bomb of a right hand that sat him down on the cage five seconds left. Rozenstruik walked off as Overeem attempted to get back to his feet, with the corner of his mouth completely ripped open. Referee Dan Miragliotta decided to wave it off as Overeem got to his feet with Rozenstruik in celebration mode.

It was one of the weirder endings to a main event, but the stoppage could be deemed legitimate given how Overeem was looking when he returned to the feet.

No. 4 — Frankie Edgar taps Cub Swanson, UFC Fight Night (2014)

The former lightweight champion was looking to make a statement in the main event at 145 pounds near his home in New Jersey. He did just that by dominating Swanson for the majority of this five-round affair that ended with Edgar on top of Swanson looking to put an exclamation point on his win. He did just that by locking his arms around Swanson’s face and torquing. Swanson was forced to tap with just five seconds left, setting a record at the time for latest stoppage in UFC history. 

No. 3 — Demetrious Johnson submits Kyoji Horiguchi, UFC 186 (2015)

Johnson was never appreciated to the degree he should have been when he was dominating UFC’s flyweight division. Johnson was a masterful fighter who pulled off some truly incredible things against a slew of talented challengers. Included in his championship reign were three wins in the fifth round, including a legendary armbar win over Ray Borg in where Johnson launched Borg into the air and locked in the submission on the way to the ground.

But Johnson’s UFC 186 fight with Horiguchi was where he entered the realm of the buzzer-beaters. Johnson had largely dominated Horiguchi in a bout that was fought at a blistering pace. In the final round, Johnson was dominating on the ground when he made the late decision to get another stoppage on the books, quickly spinning into an armbar and torquing the hold until Horiguchi tapped out a split-second before the horn sounded to end the fight.

It was yet another impressive performance from Johnson, but it ranks third on the list because the other two entrants are legendary highlights in the UFC catalog.

No. 2 — Yair Rodriguez lands a Hail Mary elbow to KO The Korean Zombie, UFC Fight Night (2018)

The bout between Rodriguez and Chan Sung Jung closed out the November 2018 Fight Night card with style. The two featherweights exchanged strikes over five rounds with momentum swinging back and forth. It was exactly the type of fight fans expected when the fight was announced as it also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first UFC event.

As the fight hit the fifth and final round, Jung had a lead on the scorecards and could have taken a decision victory by just making it through the round. Jung continued to fight hard, not knowing he was ahead and also not of the style to take his foot off the gas in any situation.

The fighters continued to go toe-to-toe in thrilling fits of violence before coming together for one last exchange. Somehow, Rodriguez landed an upward back elbow while bent over at the waist, sending Jung crashing to the canvas as the final second ticked away, giving Rodriguez one of the most improbable knockouts in UFC history.

No. 1 — Max Holloway proves he is the true “BMF”, UFC 300 (2024)

Fighting for the “BMF” championship carries certain lofty expectations. Being chosen by the UFC to fight for a ceremonial title that can supposedly only belong to the “baddest motherf—er” in the sport means fans expect you to deliver the goods inside the Octagon. While there was little doubt Holloway and Gaethje could deliver on those expectations, Holloway’s performance exceeded what could have been expected from even the most demanding fans.

Holloway crushed Gaethje’s nose with a back kick to end the first round, but Gathje wasn’t going to wilt from the injury. Gaethje even appeared to have Holloway badly hurt in the fourth round despite having been otherwise outstruck for the duration of the fight.

Despite having every reason to think he was ahead on the scorecards, especially after dominating the final round to that point, Holloway chose not to play it safe as the final seconds of the fight ticked away.

When Holloway pointed at the floor and waved Gaethje in, Holloway was giving his opponent a chance to pull off the miracle shot. Gaethje, the natural lightweight, was considered the more vicious one-punch knockout artist and Holloway was giving him an opening. Instead, it was Holloway who delivered the final blow, landing an overhand right in the wild exchange and creating an all-time highlight reel moment.

The UFC can retire the ceremonial title after UFC 300 because no MFer is as bad as than Max Holloway.



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