Top 5 UFC 'Submission of the Night' winners: Joe Lauzon secures top spot as all-time leader with bonuses now gone

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As the promotion does away with its "Submission of the Night" award, join for a look back at the top five bonus winners in UFC history.

You know you're a mixed martial arts (MMA) fan when you find something elegant in the way one man chokes another to the point of near unconsciousness.

Non-fans may have a difficult time understanding it, but the artistry on display in many of the best submissions we see inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon is simply too beautiful to deny.

However, as thrilling as it can be to see a perfectly executed D'arce choke, make no mistake about it: the legion of casual fans who make up the lion's share of UFC's audience would rather see less grappling and more striking-based action.

What this means, now that UFC has decided to do away with its traditional "Knockout of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" bonuses, in favor of a pair of more open-ended "Performance of the Night" incentives, is that fighters who rely on submissions had better start tapping fools out with gogoplatas and flying armbars if they want to get a piece of that bonus pie.

A by-the-numbers rear naked choke probably isn't going to cut it when evaluated against more pyrotechnic stand-and-bang efforts.

With this new bonus structure about to take effect in just a few days at UFC Fight Night 36 (more on that here), let's take a look back at the top five "Submission of the Night" winners.

(Note: As there was a three-way tie for third place, fighters' ranking was determined by my own subjective take on how impressive each respective submission was).

1) Joe Lauzon: J-Lau may have one of the worst nicknames in UFC history, but he also holds a more distinguished title: he's the winningest fighter in "Submission of the Night" history, capturing the award a record six times. What's more, he's tied with living legend Anderson Silva for the most UFC post-fight bonuses, with 12 to date.

Say you're a UFC lightweight who wants to punch the clock and get home ASAP because you forgot to DVR a rerun of the 1985 cinematic tour de force "Commando." Well, one surefire way to end your night would be to let Lauzon grab hold of your arm.

J-Lau has two Submission of the Night victories by way of armbar -- over Jeremy Stephens and enema-enthusiast Gabe Ruediger -- plus a pair of victories by triangle against Brandon Melendez and Jamie Varner. That's not to mention the wicked triangle/kimura hybrid the Massachusetts native pulled off against Curt Warburton.

Moral of the story: if you're scheduled to fight Joe Lauzon, train your submission defense like you were set for a limb ripping contest with an octopus. J-Lau may have a hit and miss record, but taking him lightly on the ground won't end well for you.

2) Nate Diaz: The 209's second favorite son may have more Submission of the Night victories than anyone else on this list besides Lauzon, five to be exact, but even if the Cesar Gracie blackbelt wasn't in the habit of stacking up limbs like plates at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, he'd still be number two on this list.

Why? I've got 22 words and a French phrase I'm not sure how to classify for you: Diaz flipping the crowd a double bird a la Stone Cold Steve Austin after locking Kurt Pellagrino in a fight-ending flying triangle choke.

Now that, my friends, is bad ass.

3) Demian Maia: In addition to having the hardest first name for me to spell correctly of any fighter on the UFC roster -- why, oh why couldn't it have been spelled with an "a" instead of an "e" -- Maia has some of the best Brazilian jiu jitsu credentials of any fighter in UFC history.

At one point in time, Maia stood poised to give Lauzon a run for his money in the "Submission of the Night" sweepstakes. He started off his UFC career notching up three sub bonuses in a row. His mounted triangle choke of Ed Herman was truly a thing of beauty, but from a pure name value stand point, in retrospect Maia's biggest tap would appear to be his UFC 95 triangle choke win over Chael Sonnen (this was before the "American Gangster" re-branded himself as the best smack talker in the business).

However, Maia has stalled out in recent years when it comes to submissions, and hasn't returned to the bonus ranks since early 2009.

Now, he'll never get another chance to win the award he once appeared likely to become synonymous with.

4) Cole Miller: Miller is tied with Maia at four "Submission of the Night" victories. The reason Maia got the nod over Miller (and the person ranked at number five) is because the nature of his submissions weren't as impressive as Maia's.

Sure, Miller has a nice modified kimura win over Dan Lauzon, but the rest of his "Submission of the Night" victories came by way of either rear naked choke or guillotine. There's nothing wrong with either of those techniques -- the effectiveness speaks for itself -- but they aren't as "sexy" as triangles and armbars.

5) Terry Etim: Etim's history with the "Submission of the Night" award is cut from the same cloth as Miller's. He has a D'arce choke victory over Justin Buchholz to his credit, but other than that, he won a third of his bonuses with a string of three guillotine chokes.

Of the fighters on this list, Etim is the only one who no longer fights for UFC. These days, he plies his trade with Bellator MMA, but has yet to get back to his fool submitting ways as of yet.

There you have it.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment as we look back at the dearly-departed "Knockout of the Night."

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