Looking back at Edson Barboza's most iconic knockout of all time (Video)

Edson Barboza''s knockout of Terry Etim on Jan. 14, 2012 can never be forgotten.
Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Edson Barboza wins his Lightweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden
Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Edson Barboza wins his Lightweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We've all seen the kick. It was arguably the first viral knockout in UFC history and every time it's Edson Barboza fight week, we're bound to see it some more. Of course, we are talking about Barboza's spinning wheel kick knockout of Terry Etim.

UFC 142 took place on Jan. 14, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The card was headlined by a featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Kicking off the pay-per-view portion of the card was a lightweight matchup between two rising stars in the division, Barboza and Etim.

Coming in to the fight Barboza was undefeated at 9-0, with three of those wins coming in the UFC. His first fight in the promotion ended when his opponent could no longer stand due to Barboza's now trademark leg kicks. In his next two fights, against Anthony Njokuani and Ross Pearson respectively, Barboza pocketed Fight of the Night bonuses as well as the victories.

Etim also entered the UFC undefeated, but lost two of his first three fights in the promotion. He then went on to win five of his next six with four finishes and three Submission of the Night bonuses. Etim was sporting a 15-3 record by the time he entered the Octagon against Barboza.

Stylistically, the fight was a classic striker vs grappler matchup. Barboza possessed a brutal muay thai style with crushing power and one of the fastest switch kicks the sport had ever seen. Etim's game, on the other hand, was defined by slick submissions, using his long limbs to strangle his opponents with a variety of chokes.

Watch Edson Barboza''s knockout of Terry Etim from every angle

Landed the first wheel kick KO in UFC history! 💢 Will Edson Barboza make history again at #UFC262? [ LIVE tonight on E+ PPV: bit.ly/33wjxzk ]

Posted by UFC on Saturday, May 15, 2021

The fight started with Etim pressuring and shooting for a takedown in the first 15 seconds of the fight. On his second takedown attempt, Etim was able to get Barboza to the ground. In an early victory for Barboza he was able to sweep Etim almost immediately and get back to his feet. Etim's next takedown attempt was stuffed and he ate a knee to the body for his efforts. Unable to get the fight to the ground, Etim began to try to establish his jab. Meanwhile, Barboza began using a variety of kicks to attack Etim's head, body, and legs.

Round two began where round one left off with Etim walking forward behind his jab and Barboza battering his legs with kicks. Undeterred, Etim continued to pressure Barboza, eventually securing a double leg takedown. Similar to the first round, Barboza was immediately able to elevate Etim with a butterfly hook and use the opportunity to return to his feet. The round continued at a relatively measured pace with neither fighter able to really land anything significant. It would appear entering the third round that Barboza was up on the scorecards and Etim would need a finish to earn the victory.

Etim came out very aggressively in round three, once again stalking Barboza and finding a home for his jab. Through the first two minutes of the round, Etim controlled the Octagon. That would all change in the blink of an eye. As Etim continued to pressure forward, Barboza set his front foot, spun and connected with the heel of his foot flush to the jaw of Etim. As most have seen in the now iconic highlight, Etim immediately stiffened and toppled over like a tree being chopped down. The crowd erupted for the hometown fighter. It was the first spinning wheel kick knockout in the history of the UFC.

Once a highly touted prospect, Etim was never able to bounce back from the crushing defeat, fighting only once more in the UFC and ultimately retiring less than two years later at the age of 27. Though he would lose his next fight to Jamie Varner, Barboza has had a lengthy career, fighting the who's who of the lightweight division and headlining UFC cards as recently as May 18, 2024.

One of the great parts about mixed martial arts and sports in general is the immortalization of moments in time. Clips and images that take on a life of their own, far surpassing the popularity and notoriety of those that created them. Based on the number of times hardcore and casual fans alike of seen that spinning wheel kick, it's safe to say that Barboza's knockout of Etim is one such moment.


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