Watch: MMA's most devastating knockouts of 2016
Bellator MMA

As the year in cage fighting comes to a close, theScore's MMA staff takes a look back at what will be remembered as a time of change, controversy, and lots of people getting punched in the face.

Best of MMA 2016

The past year had plenty of great knockouts to choose from, but here are 10 of the best jaw droppers of 2016:

10. Paige VanZant def. Bec Rawlings (UFC on FOX 21, Aug. 27)

Paige VanZant emphatically erased any doubts about her commitment to fighting when she met Bec Rawlings in Vancouver.

Through the first round of their strawweight dance, Rawlings looked like she would box her way to a decision, but "12 Gauge" turned the tables just 17 seconds after the second-round horn. VanZant went airborne, leveling the unsuspecting Aussie with a head kick to atone for the submission loss she suffered at Rose Namajunas' hands in December 2015. - Alexis

9. Javy Ayala def. Sergei Kharitonov (Bellator 163, Nov. 4)

Javy Ayala entered his bout with Sergei Kharitonov with a reputation as a fight finisher, but nobody could have seen this one coming.

Facing a veteran striker with over a decade of experience, Ayala uncorked a hellacious overhand right that instantly turned Kharitonov into a ragdoll. It took Ayala all of 16 seconds to pick up the biggest win of his brief MMA career. - Lee

8. Yoel Romero def. Chris Weidman (UFC 205, Nov. 12)

"Soldier of God" lived up to his self-appointed rank when he marched into enemy territory this past November.

Unfazed by facing a former champion in his own backyard, Romero maintained his penchant for late-round finishes with a flying knee that had New York native Chris Weidman bleeding like a stuck pig, before raining fists on Weidman's head to secure the stoppage 24 seconds into the final frame of their three-round contest. - Alexis

7. John Lineker def. Michael McDonald (UFC Fight Night 91, July 13)

Michael McDonald paid the hard way for breaking a cardinal rule of MMA: You never, ever stand and bang with John Lineker.

The one-time UFC title challenger is no stranger to highlight-reel finishes himself, but exchanging punches with the pound-for-pound hardest hitter in the sport was sheer insanity. Sure enough, Lineker found McDonald's chin midway through the opening round of the UFC Fight Night 91 main event, and blasted it over and over until McDonald was a fighter-shaped puddle on the canvas. - Lee

6. Steve Bosse def. James Te Huna (UFC Fight Night 85, March 20)

Were it not for Steve Bosse, James Te Huna might still be competing in MMA.

The former semi-pro hockey enforcer put his slobberknocking skills on full display in his UFC light heavyweight debut this past March, flatlining Te Huna with a merciless right hand just 52 seconds into their fight. As if three previous consecutive losses by stoppage weren't hint enough, the New Zealander called it a career two months after Bosse put him in a fist-induced coma. - Alexis

5. Anthony Johnson def. Glover Teixeira (UFC 202, Aug. 20)

The most recent knockout of Anthony "Rumble" Johnson's career may have been his best one yet. And that's saying something.

Johnson is known for his scintillating punching power - a gift that was on full display when he obliterated Glover Teixeira with a perfectly placed uppercut. At the time, it appeared a tooth flew out of Teixeira's mouth, but whether it was that or a chunk of vaseline, or even a portion of Teixeira's soul leaving his body, the end result was the same: a 13-second knockout for Rumble. - Lee

4. Donald Cerrone def. Rick Story (UFC 202, Aug. 20)

Using the typically durable Rick Story as his guinea pig, Donald Cerrone gave a packed T-Mobile Arena a crash course in kickboxing with just four flawlessly executed blows.

It may not have rivaled Cerrone's head kick knockout of Matt Brown in terms of pure carnage, but the 33-year-old's dissection of Story was nothing short of masterful, punishing "The Horror" to the body and head with his mitts before clocking him with a head kick. "Cowboy" capped his magnum opus with some follow-up punches to secure his third straight finish at welterweight. - Alexis

3. Stipe Miocic def. Fabricio Werdum (UFC 198, May 14)

If Fabricio Werdum was looking to deliver an unforgettable finish in his home country, he succeeded.

Forty-five thousand rabid Brazilians piled into Arena da Baixada in Curitiba to watch Werdum attempt to defend his UFC heavyweight title for the first time. What they witnessed instead was their beloved champion chasing Stipe Miocic around the cage before falling flat on his face after Miocic cracked him with a counter right hand.

After that, the only sound that could be heard in the building was the dull murmur of disappointment. - Lee

2. Lando Vannata def. John Makdessi (UFC 206, Dec. 10)

One would think that a 20-fight veteran in John Makdessi needn't be reminded to keep his hands up, right?

Wrong.

Lightweight prospect Lando Vannata needed all of 100 seconds to make Makdessi pay for his habit in stunning fashion. After dropping a thriller to Tony Ferguson in his UFC debut, the tantalizing 24-year-old put the 155-pound division on notice with a picture-perfect wheel kick that rendered "The Bull" a helpless heap. - Alexis

1. Michael Page def. Evangelista Santos (Bellator 158, July 16)

Everything about Michael "Venom" Page's knockout-of-the-year winner was flawless.

His timing on the counter knee that dusted Evangelista Santos? Flawless.

His celebration that perfectly channeled the Pokemon GO (remember that?) craze that was running wild at the time? Flawless.

His professional record following the win? 12-0 (that's flawless, by the way).

The only flaw that emerged from the moment was the dent that MVP's strike left in Santos' skull.

Page is yet to face the best talent that Bellator has to offer, but in 2016 there wasn't a fighter in any organization who had a more memorable KO than this one.

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Watch: MMA's most devastating knockouts of 2016
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