Justin Gaethje's KO of Dustin Poirier, 5 other brutal knockouts of 2023 (VIDEO)

Recapping some of the best highlights to occur in the cage during 2023.

UFC 291: Poirier v Gaethje 2
UFC 291: Poirier v Gaethje 2 / Chris Gardner/GettyImages
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The year 2023 was a thrilling ride in MMA, bringing plenty of ups, downs, and wild moments in and out of the cage. But there are always several things guaranteed every year in the sport — and one of those things is seeing fighters' lights getting turned out.

The knockout can be one of the most thrilling, shocking, scary, or exhilarating parts — or all of those combined — in a fight card. Knockout finishes always prove to be highlights that people will flock to and it's what some fight fans exclusively tune in to see.

There have been several key KOs that took place in MMA this year, and it's made for quite some debate, disputing, and frustration amongst the MMA community as they try to pick the best one.

Here at FanSided MMA, we're going to give you what we felt were the five best knockouts of 2023.

Justin Gaethje becomes BMF champ with knockout of Dustin Poirier (UFC)

Kicking things off on this list (no pun intended) is the UFC 291 fight between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje that was highly anticipated and delivered in more ways than one. The two first fought in April 2018 at UFC Glendale — a fight that saw Poirier finish Gaethje in four rounds.

This time, they were headlining a pay-per-view. This time, they were fighting for the BMF title that hadn't been seen since Jorge Masvidal's victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 244. And this time, the result would be quite different.

After a brutal first round on both ends, with both men laying in powerful shots and Gaethje getting busted open, Gaethje brought things to a sudden and violent end in the second round. After blocking a straight right from Poirier, Gaethje delivered a powerful head kick that dropped Poirier out cold.

After already having a classic with Rafael Fiziev earlier in the year at UFC 286, this head kick put a bow on a memorable 2023 for the man called "The Highlight." And now off these two victories, Gaethje could be in a position to earn another crack at the UFC lightweight title in 2024 or early 2025 — so long as Islam Makhachev gets past his rematch with Charles Oliveira and potentially Gaethje getting a win over Arman Tsarukyan.