An unfortunate byproduct of the sport’s constant technical evolution is that submissions are becoming increasingly scarce. The baseline submission defense has risen dramatically over the years, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for truly unique ground finishes. Luckily, the year still had plenty to offer. Let’s check out the 2019 “Submissions of the Year.”
5. The Oliveira Club-And-Sub (UFC on ESPN+ 2)
Charles Oliveira submitting people isn’t anything new. Charles Oliveira specifically submitting people with an anaconda choke isn’t new, either.
But damn was this cool.
In his first of three 2019 fights, Oliveira met the surging David Teymur, a well-credentialed kickboxer who’d shown surprisingly stout takedown defense in victories over Drakkar Klose and Nik Lentz. While the Brazilian was still a slight favorite, the memory of his collapse against a similarly skilled foe in Paul Felder suggested that this was a potentially hazardous venture.
There wasn’t a scrap of fragility to be found in “do Bronx” that evening. After taking a nasty eye poke in the early going, he came out slugging, giving Teymur everything he could handle on the feet. Early in the second, he found the mark with an Anderson Silva-style up-elbow and swarmed him until the Swede made the mistake of leaving his neck in stranglin’ range (watch it).
Can’t wait to see where on this list Oliveira lands next year.
4. Mercenary Magic (Bellator 236)
A.J. McKee is an absolute stud, but this was eye-catching even by his standards. After two strong rounds against Derek Campos, he overextended on a ground punch, allowing his foe to sweep into top position. In a feat of improvisational brilliance, though, “The Mercenary” latched onto an armbar as they rolled, using an unorthodox leg position to lock Campos in place and secure the tap.
The 24-year-old has been both busy and successful in the Bellator cage; fingers crossed we get to see him lock horns with Patricio Pitbull in the near future.
3. Return of the Necktie (UFC Fight Night 158)
To say I’ve been disappointed in Misha Cirkunov’s UFC run would be an understatement; I was quite high on the Latvian-born Canadian when he first joined the world’s largest fighting organization and he rewarded my faith with four consecutive stoppage victories. Then came three first-round knockout losses in four fights, and suddenly the former top prospect was fighting for his UFC life.
Jimmy Crute, on the other hand, had followed up his impressive Contender Series showing with a pair of stoppage wins. Though the oddsmakers had this fight a pick-em, the momentum absolutely belonged to “The Brute.”
In a remarkable dense round of action, Cirkunov scored a rapid takedown and swiftly moved to mount, only to lose position in pursuit of an armbar. Crute proceeded to make him pay with heavy ground-and-pound, but Cirkunov took the opportunity to wrap up the UFC’s first Peruvian necktie in more than a decade (watch it), earning a post-fight bonus in the process.
2. Primus-a-Gogo (Bellator Birmingham)
MMA’s all-time greatest writer, Seanbaby, once described the gogoplata thusly:
It’s a shin choke that no one in MMA ever, ever gets. Brazilian warriors only invented the move so that one day, 40 percent of every UFC broadcast would be Joe Rogan screaming, “Gogoplata! He’s got the gogo-! No he doesn’t. Gogopla-! He’s lost it. GOGO-! No, that’s a pirate ghost. Wait. A p-p-p-PIRATE GHOST!?”
Sadly, Rogan was nowhere to be found when former Bellator Lightweight champ Brent Primus met Tim Wilde in the former’s first fight since losing his rematch with Michael Chandler. In a fight that lasted all of 80 seconds, Wilde took advantage of a slip to land in Primus’ guard, only to immediately find a shin clamped against his windpipe.
Better luck next time, Timmy.
1. The Arkansas Twister (UFC on ESPN 7)
Bryce Mitchell is just so damn charming, a clever and charismatic Arkansan who’s incredibly easy to root for. He’s also, as it turns out, absolutely lethal on the mat.
Despite an impressive performance against Bobby Moffett in his previous appearance, “Thug Nasty” found himself the lesser favorite against fellow prospect Matt Sayles when they met in December. “Robo” sported one of the nastiest right hands in the division, but that proved inconsequential thanks to Mitchell hitting a takedown in the opening minute. He patiently worked his way to Sayles’ back, and when the RNC wasn’t forthcoming, in came the twister.
A rare submission (watch it), executed perfectly against a highly competent opponent, is exactly the recipe for a top spot on this list. Get the man his shorts.
Honorable Mentions: Alexander Yakovlev (Schultz headlock) Alex da Silva, Charles Rosa (armbar) Manny Bermudez, Marlon Moraes (guillotine choke) Raphael Assuncao, Paul Craig (triangle choke) Kennedy Nzechukwu
What Was The Best UFC / MMA submission Of 2019?
This poll is closed
Bryce Mitchell’s Twister
Brett Primus’ Gogoplata
Misha Cirkunov’s Peruvian Necktie
A.J. McKee’s Magical Armbar
Charles Oliveira’s Anaconda Choke
Other (Explain in comments section below)