Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Everyone loves knockouts - there’s no questioning this combat sports adage. But as mixed martial arts has grown more popular with each passing year, fans are getting more and more knowledgeable and excited about submission finishes, with the lead up to the final tap often accompanied by a crescendo of cheers. Here’s some of the best we’ve seen thus far in 2009.
Everyone loves knockouts – there’s no questioning this combat sports adage. But as mixed martial arts has grown more popular with each passing year, fans are getting more and more knowledgeable and excited about submission finishes, with the lead up to the final tap often accompanied by a crescendo of cheers. Here’s some of the best we’ve seen thus far in 2009.
5 – (Tie) UFC Fight Night – April 1 - Cole Miller Wsub1 Junie Browning
Cole Miller takes pride in his jiu-jitsu game – so much so that when Junie Browning made disparaging comments about it in the lead up to their April 1st bout in Tennessee, Miller was determined to teach the Ultimate Fighter season eight alum a lesson when the bell rang. And he did, forcing Browning to tap out to a guillotine choke less than two minutes into the bout. The lesson here? Don’t talk smack to a guy who can choke you.
5 – (Tie) UFC 98 – May 23 - Tim Hague Wsub1 Pat Barry
Tim Hague’s submission of Pat Barry isn’t here because of technical brilliance or an unorthodox finish. It’s here because the guillotine choke he finished Barry off illustrated the beauty of mixed martial arts. Back in June of 2001, longtime contender Jeremy Horn told me, When a boxer is getting ready for a fight, he's only got one choice, which is to punch his opponent more often, better and faster. And if he can't do that, he's going to lose guaranteed. Whereas in mixed martial arts, if I know my opponent is a better boxer than me, I'm gonna take him down or kick him. If he's a better grappler than me, I'm going to try and box with him. So because I have more avenues to keep myself safe and still win the fight, it's easier to be calm. Everybody's got weaknesses, so all you have to do is find out where they are and exploit them. If a boxer knows his opponent hits harder and is faster, he has no options. There's nowhere to go. There are still some flaws he can work on, but there's so much less." When Hague fought Barry, all it took were a couple hellacious strikes for the Canadian to decide that his best chance of winning was on the mat. So he took Barry down and submitted him. And as simple as that sounds, that was mixed martial arts at its best.
4 – UFC 100 – July 11 - Tom Lawlor Wsub1 CB Dollaway
When you ask most mixed martial arts fans about The Ultimate Fighter season eight’s Tom Lawlor, usually the first things that comes to mind are his antics on TUF8, his tribute to the ‘Just Bleed’ guy during the UFC 100 weigh-ins, or maybe even his ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ entrance into the Octagon (complete with fellow TUF alum Seth Petruzelli on a leash) the next night. So it’s easy to forget that Lawlor is a talented fighter, but maybe a few more will remember after he sunk in a picture-perfect guillotine choke on CB Dollaway at UFC 100, leading to a 55 second victory that has made him a player in his new weight class of 185 pounds.
3 – UFC Fight Night – February 7 - Joe Lauzon Wsub 2 Jeremy Stephens
Joe Lauzon was putting on a clinic in his February 7th bout against Stephens, showing off all the facets of his game before a national Spike TV audience. But as long as you don’t put Stephens away, he’s dangerous. So just when it seemed that Lauzon was moving in for the kill as he had the Iowan’s back, Stephens turned the tables, opened a nasty cut on Lauzon’s forehead with an elbow and bulled him against the Octagon fence. All of a sudden, things didn’t seem so bright for Lauzon, but just as quickly, the New Englander reversed position, got into the mount position and sunk in a fight ending armbar. It was the perfect time capsule fight for ‘J-Lau’.
2 – UFC 95 – February 21 – Demian Maia Wsub1 Chael Sonnen
We may have to name this the Demian Maia Award when it’s all said and done, but it’s hard not to get more and more impressed with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard with each fight. And it’s not just his technique, it’s the fact that every time he steps into the Octagon, his opponent knows what he’s going to do – and they still can’t stop it. Let’s be honest - when you face Maia, you don’t have to worry about him throwing flying knees or brutal crosses or winning fights with his ground and pound. He’s going to try to submit you. And even if you have some success early, like Sonnen did, eventually, like creeping death, he’s going to get you. In this fight, it was a beautiful takedown right into a triangle that spelled doom for Sonnen. For my money, Maia is as scary with submissions as Brock Lesnar is with his ground and pound.
1 – UFC 99 – June 13 – Terry Etim Wsub2 Justin Buchholz
It’s hard not to like lightweight prospect Terry Etim. A humble kid who’s getting better with each fight, he’s also shown a couple of the intangibles that make champions in this sport – first was his win over Brian Cobb, which saw him show the killer instinct to get a fighter out of there when he knew he had him. Second was this UFC 99 battle with Justin Buchholz, a fellow young gun who came to Germany to win, not just to put on a good fight. In the first round, Buchholz drilled Etim with a couple right hands that broke the Brit’s nose and staggered him. Buchholz went in for the kill, but Etim recovered and went for an armbar while on his back. He made it out of the round, but Buchholz kept coming forward in the second stanza. This time though, the resilient Etim wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. As the two tumbled to the canvas in round two, Etim immediately sunk in a D’Arce choke. Game over, and Etim showed the resilience and heart you hope to see in every fighter. Top-notch technique doesn’t hurt either.
Honorable Mention – Stefan Struve-Denis Stojnic, Alan Belcher-Denis Kang, Josh Neer-Mac Danzig, Mike Ciesnolevicz-Neil Grove, Krzysztof Soszynski-Brian Stann, James Wilks-DaMarques Johnson, Jason Dent-Cameron Dollar, Jon Jones-Jake O’Brien, Shannon Gugerty-Matt Grice, Rob Kimmons-Joe Vedepo, Brock Larson-Mike Pyle