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A Decade’s Dozen: The Submissions

Read below as we narrow down some of the best submissions of the past 10 years

What were the best submissions of the last decade? Read on for one scribe’s opinion, as the Highly Unofficial Decade Awards continue…

UFC 117
Anderson Silva Wsub5 Chael Sonnen I

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/29044

Great champions aren’t defined by their dominance, but how they react to adversity. Anderson Silva got nearly five rounds worth of punishment from trash-talking Chael Sonnen, but just when it appeared that the UFC middleweight champion’s title was slipping away, he pulled off a final round submission of Sonnen that forever etched his name in the record books as one of the sport’s best ever.

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 07: Referee Josh Rosenthal (C) stops the fight between Chael Sonnen (L) and Anderson Silva (R) during the UFC Middleweight Championship bout at Oracle Arena on August 7, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 07: Referee Josh Rosenthal (C) stops the fight between Chael Sonnen (L) and Anderson Silva (R) during the UFC Middleweight Championship bout at Oracle Arena on August 7, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuf

UFC Fight Night – March 2011
Chan Sung Jung Wsub1 Leonard Garcia II

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/29058

Before Chan Sung Jung’s March rematch with Leonard Garcia, you might have assumed that the fight game of “The Korean Zombie” started and finished with his ability to brawl. Maybe Garcia, who defeated Jung in their classic 2010 bout, figured the same thing. He might have even thought that he was safe as the seconds wound down in round two in Louisville in 2011. But that’s when Jung struck with Eddie Bravo’s “Twister,” a painful maneuver that had never finished a fight in the UFC – well, up until Garcia’s tap out at 4:59 of the second round. It was a beautifully executed move, and a historic one.

UFC 140
Frank Mir Wsub1 Minotauro Nogueira II

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/29819

There is a small school of believers that think a knockout is more devastating than a submission. Frank Mir did not go to that school. In December 2011, he proved it again, becoming the first man to submit former PRIDE / UFC champ Minotauro Nogueira. To do that while one hundred percent is impressive; to do it after getting buzzed and almost finished by one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time takes it to another level.

UFC 157
Ronda Rousey Wsub1 Liz Carmouche

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/30448

Ever since Ronda Rousey turned pro, every opponent she faced knew that they were going to have to deal with an armbar attempt sooner or later, usually sooner. Liz Carmouche was no different, and part of her preparation for the UFC 157 bout against the women’s bantamweight champ involved defending random armbar attempts by her teammates at every possible moment. Yet when Rousey made her move on Carmouche after surviving a rear naked choke attempt moments earlier, the Marine Corps veteran got caught and finished by – you guessed it - the armbar.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Nate Diaz (top) submits Conor McGregor in their welterweight bout during the UFC 196 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Nate Diaz (top) submits Conor McGregor in their welterweight bout during the UFC 196 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Decades In Review: 2010 | 2011 | 2012

UFC 196
Nate Diaz Wsub2 Conor McGregor I

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/40876

When it comes to spectacular technique, there were better submissions than Nate Diaz’ finish of Conor McGregor in 2016, but has there been one that captivated the MMA universe more than the come from behind rear naked choke that ended the Irishman’s unbeaten UFC run and began one of the sport’s great rivalries? Not likely.

UFC Fight Night – January 2017
Aleksei Oleinik Wsub1 Viktor Pesta

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/49477

How can the first and only Ezekiel choke submission in UFC history not get recognized here? So there’s that, but even if it wasn’t the first, Aleksei Oleinik’s finish of Viktor Pesta in January 2017 was so sublime and so surprising that it’s a no brainer for this list. Mounted by Pesta, it looked like Oleinik was about to be in for a world of pain, but the submission master dubbed “The Boa Constrictor” calmly found his way to sink in the choke, and it was game over as Pesta tapped out at 2:57 of the first round.

UFC 216
Demetrious Johnson Wsub5 Ray Borg

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/59530

History is nice, and Demetrious Johnson did set the UFC record for most successful title defenses with his win over Ray Borg in October 2017, but this could have been the first prelim on UFC FIGHT PASS and DJ would have locked up the best submission of 2017 and possibly the decade with a move that will go down as one of the best of any year. How good was this? Try suplex to armbar in one fluid motion, requiring several replays to fathom that this was actually real and not a figment of our imagination. In the process, “Mighty Mouse” continued to show off new wrinkles in his game, further cementing his place as an all-time great.

FRESNO, CA - DECEMBER 09: (R-L) Brian Ortega attempts to submit Cub Swanson in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Save Mart Center on December 9, 2017 in Fresno, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
FRESNO, CA - DECEMBER 09: (R-L) Brian Ortega attempts to submit Cub Swanson in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Save Mart Center on December 9, 2017 in Fresno, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Gett

UFC Fight Night – December 2017
Brian Ortega Wsub2 Cub Swanson

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/61377

Brian Ortega’s guillotine choke submission of Cub Swanson proved just how uncomfortable it can be to be caught by a top-level fighter and feel like there is no escape but to tap out or go to sleep. Once Ortega locked in his choke of “Killer Cub,” Swanson knew he was in deep trouble, and to see a seasoned vet like him in such a situation was a bit of a shocker, but Ortega is proving that he can do that to anyone at 145 pounds.

UFC Fight Night – March 2018
Paul Craig Wsub3 Magomed Ankalaev

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/63934

Scotland’s Paul Craig was moments away from retirement as Magomed Ankalaev put him on the canvas, seemingly about to secure his first UFC win at Craig’s expense. But in the miracle comeback of all miracle comebacks, Craig threw up a triangle choke and forced Ankalaev to tap out. The time of the victory, which earned Craig a Performance of the Night bonus and a new UFC contract? 4:59 of round three.

UFC 232
Ryan Hall Wsub1 BJ Penn

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/65100

Ryan Hall earned the top submission spot for 2018 on the final card of the year, as he submitted a former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion in BJ Penn. Then again, this wasn’t an accident from the high-level BJJ black belt, but another example why his leg locks are among the best – if not the best – in MMA. Fast, devastating, and decisive, Hall broke open a close fight and ended it within seconds with a heel hook on a UFC Hall of Famer.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 28: (L-R) Ovince Saint Preux submits Michal Oleksiejczuk of Poland in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Royal Arena on September 28, 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 28: (L-R) Ovince Saint Preux submits Michal Oleksiejczuk of Poland in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Royal Arena on September 28, 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa L

UFC Fight Night - September 2019
Ovince Saint Preux Wsub2 Michal Oleksiejczuk

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/102836

Ovince Saint Preux’s Von Flue choke has rapidly become the MMA equivalent of the Green Bay Packers’ sweep of the 1960s: you know it’s coming, but that doesn’t mean you can stop it. In the last decade, OSP has ended fights with the choke now unofficially known as the Von Preux four times, the most recent in September of this year, as he shook off a slow start to patiently finish Michal Oleksiejczuk in the second round.

UFC Fight Night – December 2019
Bryce Mitchell Wsub1 Matt Sayles

https://ufcfightpass.com/video/105431

Anyone caught in the rare Twister submission will tell you how painful it is, and that was evident on the face of Matt Sayles as he got caught in this fight-ender (only the second in UFC history) at the hands of Bryce Mitchell, a skilled submission specialist who will likely deliver some finishes that will make the next decade’s list as well.