The UFC celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018 and it used the entire year to celebrate that achievement. Likewise, the UFC celebrated the best submission wins we’ve ever seen inside the octagon, from the very first event up to the current wizardry of fighters on the mat. The promotion came up with a list of the top submission finishes in UFC history which is posted at its website.
Here is the UFC’s list:
10. Ronda Rousey def. Cat Zingano UFC 184
During her peak, Ronda Rousey was an unstoppable force. Rowdy entered the UFC with a background in Olympic judo and she won her first eight MMA bouts via armbar submission. For her 5th title defense of the UFC women’s bantamweight belt, Rousey was booked to face Cat Zingano. Zingano was 9-0 heading to her fight with Rousey and had won all but one of her bouts by stoppage. Zingano’ striking was supposed to be Rousey’s biggest test to date but as soon the bell rang to start the fight, Zingano rushed Rousey trying to land a knee. Rousey caught her and they two went to the ground. Rowdy immediately grabbed Cat’s arm and secured the armbar win in just 14 seconds. As Joe Rogan said in the commentary. “Wow! Just like that!”
9. Brian Ortega def. Cub Swanson UFC 123
You might remember Brian Ortega from his one-sided TKO loss to Max Holloway at UFC 231 last December. But before T-City got owned by Blessed, he was on a tear in the UFC with 14 straight wins and a habit of submitting opponents one after the other. Ortega is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Rener Gracie so that’s why he’s so slick on the ground. Cub Swanson is one of the most exciting fighters in the lower weight divisions. He’s a brawler who likes to go toe to toe with his foes. Swanson is one of the most durable fighters in the UFC but against Ortega, he lasted just two rounds. As Ortega pressed Swanson against the cage in Round 2, Ortega jumped guard and pulled Swanson’s head down for a standing guillotine choke. Swanson looked like he would break free but Ortega adjusted in air, quickly sinking the choke and forcing Swanson to tap.
8. Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm UFC 196
Miesha Tate had been a long-time top contender in the UFC but after losing twice to Ronda Rousey, it seemed that winning the UFC women’s bantamweight title was out of her grasp. But after Holly Holm shocked the world and defeated Ronda Rousey in Australia, Tate got another crack at the 135-pound belt. Holm was a former world champion in professional boxing and she got the better of Rousey in the striking game and knocked out the champ. Tate had displayed her wrestling in the first two rounds but Holm picked up the pace and started to tag Miesha in Rounds 3 and 4 using her elite boxing skills. In round 5, Tate was able to take Holm’s back. She secured a rear-naked choke and squeezed it with all she had. Holm never tapped out despite the choke being so deep. She passed out and Tate went on to win the UFC women’s bantamweight title
7. Nate Diaz def. Kurt Pellegrino UFC Fight Night 13
Nate Diaz is one of the UFC’s most polarizing fighters. One-half of the Diaz Brothers from Stockton, Nate is known as the man who stopped Conor McGregor’s unbeaten streak by choking out the Irishman at UFC 196. But early in his career, there were doubts on Diaz as a top fighter even after he won the TUF. In 2008, he was matched up against BJJ black belt and 3-1 fighter Kurt Pellegrino. After Pellegrino took advantage with his ground strikes in Round 1, he took Diaz down in Round 2. But Diaz was able to reverse the position. Pellegrino countered with a slam, only to fall down to a triangle choke. Rather than pull Pellegrino’s head down to ensure the tap out, Diaz instead lay on the mat to celebrate, even giving the cameras two middle-finger gestures while Pellegrino was struggling to come out of the hold. Diaz celebrated before his opponent had tapped. That was impressive.
6. Frank Mir def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira UFC 140
Frank Mir is such a terrific submission artist for a heavyweight. The former UFC heavyweight champion is the best submission artist in the heavyweight division (Sorry, Werdum) and at UF 140 he became the first man to submit the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Big Nog established his vaunted jabs early in the fight. He looked for the takedown but Mir defended the single leg against the fence. Mir tripped Big Nog but he managed to get up. Nogueira landed a right hand that stumbled Mir. Big Nog landed big shots from the top but instead of getting stopped, Mir got a sweep and hit a kimura. Nogueira tried to roll and defend but Mir stepped over and forced the Brazilian to tap, breaking his arm in the process. Ouch!.
5. Chan Sung Jung def. Leonard Garcia UFC Fight Night 24
Chan Sung Jung isn’t known as the Korean Zombie for anything. The Korean MMA legend has one of the most incredible recovery and shot-taking skills in the business. You keep punching him and he keeps moving forward, just like a zombie. Garcia beat Chan in their first bout via a controversial split decision. The rematch was just as exciting. With a minute to go in Round 2, the Korean Zombie knocked Garcia down, got on top of him and got his back. Chan then controlled Garcia’s left leg and twisted him to the right side. Garcia was forced to tap with just one second left in the round. The Korean Zombie won via a rare twister submission move.
4. Matt Hughes def. Frank Trigg UFC 52
Matt Hughes’ recovery from a horrific vehicular accident is what we remember more right now but before he retired, he was one of the UFC’s best champions and a Hall-of-Famer. Aside from his bouts with Georges St. Pierre, we remember Matt Hughes for his memorable bout against Frank Trigg at UFC 52. Hughes had beaten Trigg at UFC 45 via rear-naked choke in a bout that won him Submission of the Night honors. The second fight was more epic. After he was accidentally hit in the groin, Hughes got distracted and complained to the referee. Trigg capitalized by pounding on the champion. The fight went to the ground and Trigg pummeled Hughes with a vicious ground and pound for nearly two minutes. Incredibly, Hughes broke free, picked up Trigg and literally carried him across the octagon before slamming him hard. Hughes pounded his foe and secured a rear-naked choke to retain his title. It was one of the most impressive comebacks wins in UFC history.
3. Anderson Silva def. Chael Sonnen UFC 117
Anderson Silva was the greatest middleweight of his era. Chael Sonnen has the biggest mouth in all of MMA. But on this particular fight, it appeared like Sonnen would back his talk and halt Silva’s incredible winning streak. For a good part of 24 minutes, Sonnen did what he said he would do to Silva. He put the Spider on his back, He hammered Silva from the top position. Sonnen only had two minutes left before he would pull off the dramatic upset. But he got caught in the Spider’s web. He fell into a triangle choke and was forced to tap out. Anderson’s win streak was alive. Sonnen had his heart broken in what is his best fight ever.
2. Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg UFC 216
Before the UFC traded Demetrious Johnson to the ONE Championships, he was the greatest flyweight in the history of the UFC. Johnson was the UFC’s inaugural flyweight champion and he kept that title up until his final UFC bout where he lost to Henry Cejudo.
Borg promised to retire the aging Mighty Mouse. But Johnson dominated the fight from start to finish, landing elbows, kicks, takedowns and reversals on the challenger. But instead of coasting for the unanimous decision win, Johnson picked up Borg in the closing moments of the bout and in the process of slamming him to the canvass, he trapped Borg’s arm and was able to secure an armbar on the way down. Borg tapped and Mighty Mouse’s suplex to armbar finish is one of the greatest moves we’ve seen in UFC history.
1. Royce Gracie def. Ken Shamrock UFC 1
Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock were two of the pioneers of the UFC. Gracie was a BJJ master who overcame size disadvantage to win the UFC 1, 2 and 4 tournaments. Shamrock was the self-proclaimed World’s Most Dangerous Man and the UFC’s first Super Fight Champion They also developed one of the greatest rivalries we’ve ever seen in the sport. The rivalry began at UFC 1, the origin of the sport when they met in the semi-finals. Gracie opened the fight as expected, taking Shamrock down. Shamrock rolled over, exposed his back and got caught in a choke and was forced to tap out in just 57 seconds. Shamrock later said that he was going for the leg lock and he forgot to defend. The two would go on to fight two more times in what is one of the most popular rivalries we’ve ever seen.
You can check the videos of these impressive submission wins at the UFC’s site here.