The most graceful finish in all of combat sports, the submission win can come in a number of ways, but the end result is always the same – a victory for the man pulling off the move, and a look of ‘what happened?’ from the victim. 2010 had its share of memorable wins by way of submission, and in part III of the Highly Unofficial awards, here are the best.
10 – Jim Miller gives Oliveira his first “0”
Jim Miller felt a little disrespected in the lead-up to his UFC 124 bout against unbeaten phenom Charles Oliveira, and despite his lengthy win streak in the Octagon, he was seen by many as the underdog. So how did the Jersey native respond? By doing what veterans do. In this case, Miller walked through a few kicks to the head, took Oliveira down, and then finished him off with a kneebar less than two minutes into the fight. Don’t expect any disrespect to be thrown Miller’s way anymore.
9 – Davis breaks new ground against Boetsch
Already known for his wrestling and ground and pound, Phil Davis’ submission game is starting to get some positive notices as well, not surprising since three of his five finishes have come via tap out. In his most recent bout at UFC 123 in November, “Mr. Wonderful” even went as far as to create his own move, a modified kimura that finished veteran Tim Boetsch and which is already being dubbed “The Philmura.”
8 – Palhares introduces Drwal to the heel hook
If there’s one fighter in the UFC that you don’t want around your feet or legs, it’s Rousimar Palhares. In March, he gave a quick and deadly demonstration why, as he caught and submitted Tomasz Drwal with a heel hook in just 45 seconds. And while these moves happen so fast that they never look like much, a glance at the pained face of the fighter on the receiving end speaks a thousand words when it comes to the devastating effects of a well-placed move like the one the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt specializes in.
7 – Dogged Dollaway hangs on to finish Doerksen
Ever since his Peruvian Necktie finish of Jesse Taylor in July of 2008, fight fans have been waiting for another submission to remember from The Ultimate Fighter alum CB Dollaway. They got it at UFC 119 in September, when Dollaway showed the continued evolution of his game in submitting veteran jiu-jitsu black belt Joe Doerksen. After locking in a guillotine choke, Dollaway had to weather a feverish escape attempt from the Canadian, but he held on and modified the choke to finish matters at 2:13 of the opening round.
6 – Lesnar roars back, finishes Carwin
After taking a hellacious beating from Shane Carwin in the first round of their July bout, Brock Lesnar’s odds of making it out of his corner for round two, let alone winning the fight, were slim. But the then-heavyweight champion showed his warrior’s heart by roaring back, taking down a winded Carwin, and finishing matters with a memorable arm triangle.
5 – Bocek wins battle of black belts with Hazelett
A lot of times, if you match up two Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, a kickboxing match breaks out. Not this time, and Mark Bocek made sure that his UFC 124 bout with Dustin Hazelett went to the ground almost immediately. In pre-fight interviews, Hazelett said he was just fine with that prospect, but Bocek sapped the joy out from the Kentucky native quickly, finishing the bout via triangle choke just past the midway point of the first round, and establishing Bocek as one of the game’s top groundfighters.
4 – Double Trouble - Lytle Surprises Foster and Brown
When you’ve been around the fight game as long as Chris Lytle has, you develop more than a few veteran tricks. At UFC 110 in Australia and UFC 116 in Las Vegas, Lytle pulled off two of his best as he made everyone and their brother, most importantly opponents Brian Foster and Matt Brown, think he was going to engage in a toe-to-toe slugfest. Both were fine with that, but when the end came, neither got what they expected, as Lytle finished Foster with a kneebar and Brown with an armbar. A crafty one, that ‘Lights Out.’
3 – Hughes goes old school on Almeida
One of the most underrated areas of Matt Hughes’ fight game is his submission attack, but if you told someone before his UFC 117 bout against Ricardo Almeida that the Hall of Famer was going to submit the decorated Renzo Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt, you would have gotten some funny looks in response. But that’s just what Hughes did, knocking Almeida down before sinking in a choke that put him to sleep moments later. When asked what the finisher was, Hughes smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and simply called it “an old wrestling move.”
2 – Cole Miller tells Dan Lauzon to pick his poison
You don’t get to see an inverted reverse triangle / kimura combination too often, but when you do, it’s a thing of beauty – well, it is for anyone watching, not for the one on the receiving end of it. So when Cole Miller showed off his mat wizardry against Dan Lauzon, New England’s “Upgrade” had no choice but to tap. In the process, Miller pulled off one of the most impressive submissions of this or any other year.
1 – Silva saves title with last round sub of Sonnen
No, it didn’t have the technical wizardry of Cole Miller’s finish of Dan Lauzon, and yes, eight of Chael Sonnen’s 11 pro losses have come via submission, but on the sport’s most pressure-filled stage, and with his championship reign slipping away, Anderson Silva pulled off a submission for the ages as he sunk in a triangle-armbar on Sonnen that finished the bout at 3:10 of the fifth round. That was impressive enough. Doing it after taking nearly five rounds of punishment from a determined challenger lifts Silva’s feat to another level. It was good watching it on tape after the fact, no question about it; but live at the Oracle Arena that night in August, the atmosphere was electric, and few who were there will ever forget it.
Honorable Mention – Daniel Roberts-Mike Guymon, Cole Miller-Ross Pearson, Charles Oliveira-Efrain Escudero, Dennis Siver-Andre Winner, Charles Oliveira-Darren Elkins, Joe Lauzon-Gabe Ruediger, Paulo Thiago-Mike Swick, Chris Leben-Yoshihiro Akiyama, Cody McKenzie-Aaron Wilkinson, Paul Sass-Mark Holst, Evan Dunham-Efrain Escudero, Nick Pace-Will Campuzano, Kenny Florian-Takanori Gomi, Rafael Dos Anjos-Terry Etim, Joe Doerksen-Tom Lawlor, Brian Stann-Mike Massenzio, Ricardo Romero-Seth Petruzelli, Alan Belcher-Patrick Cote, Nate Diaz-Marcus Davis.