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Half-Year Awards - The Submissions

The highly unofficial half-year awards season continues with the best submissions of 2015 thus far...

The submission. It’s not only a way to attack in the Octagon, it can also be the great savior, the combat sports version of a two-out, bottom of the ninth home run. And when done perfectly, it’s a thing of beauty. Here are five submissions from the first six months of 2015 that capture just what the ground game is in the UFC.

5 - Alex Chambers-Kailin Curran (Watch on UFC Fight Pass(L-R) Alex Chambers attempts to submit Kailin Curran in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night on May 10, 2015 in Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Australia’s Alex Chambers was having a rough night against Kailin Curran at UFC Fight Night in Adelaide, Australia in May. For two rounds, Hawaii’s Curran dominated the action, and while most fighters know that they’ll have to pull out all the stops to win in the third round, few do so the way Chambers did, as she was able to turn the tide on the mat in the final frame, catching Curran in an armbar that ended the bout with 1:45 left.

4 - Thales Leites-Tim Boetsch (Watch on UFC Fight PassThales Leites (top) punches Tim Boetsch in their middleweight bout during UFC 183 at MGM Grand Garden Arena  in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
As good as Jiu-Jitsu black belt Thales Leites is on the ground, it was almost shocking to know that the last time he submitted anyone in an MMA fight was in 2012. That all changed at UFC 183 in January, when he engaged in a spit and blood flying brawl with Tim Boetsch. Rightfully earning Fight of the Night honors, the two middleweight standouts traded bombs on the feet, but Boetsch had a little more firepower, bloodying his foe’s face and rocking him on occasion. Leites’ response was to go to Plan B, and it was his jiu-jitsu game that ended the bout via arm triangle choke, putting another bonus in his pocket – this one for Performance of the Night.

3 - Gilbert Burns-Alex Oliveira (Watch on UFC Fight PassGilbert Burns of Brazil celebrates after defeating Alex Oliveira in their bout during the UFC Fight Night on March 21, 2015 in Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)
Gilbert Burns is one of the hottest prospects in MMA today. Alex Oliveira, though getting positive notices now, was an unknown late replacement when he stepped in for veteran Josh Thomson for a March bout in Brazil. But for two rounds, it was the newcomer putting it on Burns, who looked listless throughout. Burns gets the hype he does for a reason though, and with his unbeaten record on the line, he turned up the heat in round three and showed off his world-class ground game, throwing submission after submission at Oliveira until the gutsy debutant tapped out to an armbar with less than a minute to go in the fight.

2 - Godofredo Pepey-Andre Fili (Watch on UFC Fight PassPepey submits Andre Fili during UFC Fight Night March 2015 in Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)
After some rough moments early in his UFC career, Brazil’s Godofredo Pepey has found a nice rhythm in the Octagon, winning three straight. The most recent victory came in Rio de Janeiro in March, and anytime the word “flying” is latched to a submission, it’s going to find a home on lists like that. So when Pepey jumped up and caught Andre Fili in a triangle choke in the first round, a) Fili had no choice but to tap, and b) Pepey found his way to number two on this list.

1 - Ronda Rousey-Cat Zingano (Watch on UFC Fight Pass(Top) Ronda Rousey grapples with Cat Zingano in their championship bout during the UFC 184 event on February 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
The queen of women’s MMA struck again when she faced Cat Zingano in Los Angeles in February, and the scary thing about Rousey’s 14-second finish of the number one contender was that the transition she used to get the armbar that ended the bout was something she had never even used before. In other words, the women’s bantamweight boss is so good that she can make things happen on the fly in the midst of chaos. So whether an opponent looks for the quick finish like Zingano or tries to wait Rousey out, things will usually end up poorly.

HONORABLE MENTION - Oliveira-Lentz, Holloway-Swanson, Ellenberger-Koscheck, Johnson-Horiguchi, Proctor-Edwards