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The Submissions | 2021 Half-Year Awards

Just Six Months Into The Year, The Submission Finishes Are Already Epic

With 22 events in the books, the first half of 2021 is complete for the UFC, and as we await the beginning of the second half of the year to begin with UFC 264 on July 10, we’ll take a look back at the best fighters and performances to grace the Octagon thus far.

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Today, it’s the top submissions of the first half of 2021 and how we saw them on fight night:

5 – Mackenzie Dern vs Nina Nunes

Mackenzie Dern Secures An Arm Bar Submission On Nunes | UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland
Mackenzie Dern Secures An Arm Bar Submission On Nunes | UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland
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Returning to the Octagon for the first time since giving birth to her daughter last September, strawweight contender Nina Nunes didn’t shy away from a challenge in Mackenzie Dern, but it was Dern’s night, as she submitted Nunes in the first round.

Dern used a wild barrage of strikes to close the distance and lock Nunes up against the fence, but Nunes got free quickly. Dern wasn’t deterred, and soon she had her first takedown. Dern worked her way into the mount position and began looking for an armbar, and once she locked it in, it was game over, as Dern forced the tap at 4:48 of the opening frame.

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With the win, the No. 11-ranked Dern moves to 11-1. The No. 5-ranked Nunes falls to 10-7.

4 – Brandon Moreno-Deiveson Figueiredo 2

Brandon Moreno of Mexico secures a rear choke submission against Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil in their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena on June 12 2021 in Glendale Arizona (Photo by Jeff Bottari-Zuffa LLC)
Brandon Moreno of Mexico secures a rear choke submission against Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil in their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

In a rematch of a December 2020 classic that ended in a draw, Brandon Moreno made history on Saturday night with a third-round submission of Deiveson Figueiredo that earned him the world flyweight title and saw him become the first Mexico native to win a UFC title.

“I worked so hard for this,” said the 27-year-old Tijuana native.

The first round was all Moreno, whose busy and confident attack seemed to catch Figueiredo off-guard. And with under two minutes left, the suddenly aggressive Figueiredo who got dropped by a Moreno jab. Moreno looked for the finish, but the champion cleared his head and got back to his feet to end the round on his feet.

After eating another stiff jab to start the second frame, Figueiredo scored a takedown and began to work on the mat. But thanks to some good defense, Moreno escaped and returned to his feet, where he locked up with the Brazilian and then scored his own takedown, keeping Figueiredo grounded for the rest of the round.

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The striking exchanges heated up in the third, but in the second minute, Moreno surprised Figueiredo with a takedown and then took the champion’s back as he looked for a rear naked choke. And with over three minutes left, that wasn’t a good thing for Figueiredo, who was forced to tap out to the choke at 2:26 of round three.

With the win, Moreno moves to 19-5-2. Figueiredo falls to 20-2-1.

3 – Anthony Hernandez-Rodolfo Vieira

Anthony Hernandez attempts to secure a choke submission against Rodolfo Vieira of Brazil in their middleweight fight during the UFC 258 event at UFC APEX on February 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Anthony Hernandez attempts to secure a choke submission against Rodolfo Vieira of Brazil in their middleweight fight during the UFC 258 event at UFC APEX on February 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Anthony Hernandez delivered a shocker in middleweight action as he submitted the previously unbeaten Rodolfo Vieira in the second round.

Vieira (7-1) dropped Hernandez to the mat within 20 seconds, and moments later he had Hernandez in deep trouble as he moved into the mount. Hernandez hung tough, forcing Vieira to look for an arm before the two rose to their feet. Vieira kept the pressure on against the fence, and once they broke with under two minutes left, Hernandez fired off strikes, rocking Vieira before attempting a choke. Again, they separated, and Hernandez had Vieira hurt and on the verge of a stoppage before the horn saved the Brazilian.

MORE HALF-YEAR AWARDS: The Upsets | The Newcomers

Hernandez (8-2, 1 NC) kept the heat on in round two, and he continued to rock the exhausted Vieira, cutting him with an elbow before getting him to the mat and stunning the MMA world by submitting the decorated jiu-jitsu black belt with a guillotine choke at 1:53 of the second frame.

2 -- Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober

Islam Makhachev punches Drew Dober in their lightweight fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Islam Makhachev punches Drew Dober in their lightweight fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Lightweight contender Islam Makhachev delivered one of his most impressive performances to date, as he submitted Drew Dober in the third round.
 
A minute into the fight, Makhachev got his first takedown, and he patiently worked to improve his position, getting into side control with 90 seconds remaining. Dober tried to scramble his way free, but Makhachev wasn’t having it, and an armbar attempt nearly ended the fight just before the horn.
 
The bout went right back to the mat to begin round two, and it was another grappling clinic from Makhachev, who completely dominated the action. Nothing changed in the third, but after flooring his foe again, he locked in the arm triangle that forced Dober to tap out at the 1:37 mark of round three.
 
With the win, the No.14-ranked Makhachev moves to 19-1. Dober falls to 23-10, 1NC.

1 – Andre Muniz-Jacare Souza

Andre Muniz attempts to submit Ronaldo Souza of Brazil in their middleweight bout during the UFC 262 event at Toyota Center on May 15 2021 in Houston Texas (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Andre Muniz attempts to submit Ronaldo Souza of Brazil in their middleweight bout during the UFC 262 event at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Middleweight up and comer Andre Muniz may have made the move from prospect to contender, as he submitted perennial standout Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the opening round.

A minute into the fight, Souza put Muniz on the deck and began throwing hard strikes until Muniz found his way upright and soon returned the favor with his own takedown. Souza rose quickly, but Muniz stayed locked on for a brief spell. After putting the fight back on the mat, Muniz locked up his foe’s arm and ended matters, with Souza suffering a broken arm in the process. The official time of the armbar finish was 3:59 of the first round.

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With the win, Muniz moves to 21-4. The 41-year-old Souza falls to 26-10, 1 NC.

Also receiving votes – Makhachev-Dober, Marquez-Pitolo, Luque-Woodley, Menifield-Cherant, Nunes-Anderson, Brady-Matthews, Allen-Roberson

VOTERS – Thomas Gerbasi, Christoph Goessing, Cory Kamerschak, E. Spencer Kyte, Steve Latrell, Zac Pacleb, Gavin Porter