A global pandemic wasn’t enough to stop the world’s mixed martial artists from slamming into one another and doing unfortunate things to each other’s limbs, and their brave efforts produced a number of terrific tapouts. Let’s dig into 2020’s “Submissions of the Year.”
5. He Hit a Damn Forearm Choke in UFC (UFC Vegas 13)
Forearm chokes are practically unheard-of in modern mixed martial arts, not because they’re complex or difficult, but because nobody above white belt should ever get caught by one. They’re essentially Baby’s First Submission, a “technique” whose usage should be actively discouraged when training young grapplers. And yet, thanks to Alexander Romanov’s immense strength and Marcos Rogerio de Lima’s immense incompetence off of his back, we got to see one in the Year of Our Lord 2020.
Ridiculous and low-skill as it was, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t give it some sort of recognition.
4. Lipski’s Unlicensed Amputation (UFC 255)
In terms of pure, gruesome spectacle, submissions don’t come much much more unpleasant than this. Ariane Lipski, better known for her hyper-aggressive striking, dealt with a Luana Carolina calf slicer by grabbing the nearest leg and cranking on the nastiest kneebar we’ve seen since Rousimar Palhares’ heyday. As the recipient of multiple knee surgeries, this triggered some deeply uncomfortable memories.
3. Flying Brick (UFC Vegas 17)
Here I was, patting myself on the back for getting this list done ahead of time, when this happened. Thanks a lot, Jimmy.
We’ve seen plenty of top-notch wrestlers shut down elite submission artists before, and Jimmy Flick’s tussle with Cody Durden looked poised to end the same way. Durden secured an early takedown, did some damage on top, and proceeded to show a much improved striking attack as Flick struggled to get his own takedowns going. Then, just past the halfway point of the first round, Durden caught a head kick, which allowed “The Brick” to lock up a beautiful flying triangle.
If I’m not mistaken, this marked the first flying triangle in the Octagon since Godofredo Pepey in 2015. Not a bad way to make a debut.
2. 88 Seconds of Funk
This didn’t achieve such a high spot on the list because it was well-executed (it was) or because it worked against an elite opponent (it did). It’s here because of the buildup.
Despite being the middle fight of UFC 250’s main card, Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sanhagen was the event’s most interesting matchup. Two top-five Bantamweights with heaps of impressive performances under their belts and whose styles seemed guaranteed to offer memorable action? It had all the makings of a classic.
Then “Funk Master” choked him out in 88 seconds. It was an insanely impressive anticlimax that should have secured him an immediate crack at the title. Alas, he (and we) will have to wait until next year to see him throw down with Petr Yan.
1. “Mercenary” Innovation (Bellator 235)
Bellator ace A.J. McKee graced this list last year after tapping Derek Campos with a nasty armbar, but he went above and beyond this time around. Taking on wrestling standout and former Bellator Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell, “The Mercenary” surrendered an early takedown, only to lock up a bizarre, unique and brutal neck crank that forced a frantic tap just 71 seconds into the fight.
A technically precise and rarely if ever seen submission successfully executed against a top-level opponent? That’s how to land at the top of this list.
Honorable Mentions: Maurice Greene (???) Gian Villante, Jack Hermansson (heel hook) Kelvin Gastelum, Mackenzie Dern (kneebar) Hannah Cifers, Aleksei Oleinik (armbar) Maurice Greene, Fabricio Werdum (armbar) Alexander Gustafsson, Chase Hooper (heel hook) Peter Barrett, Thiago Moises (straight ankle lock) Michael Johnson, Khabib Nurmagomedov (triangle choke) Justin Gaethje
What Was The Best UFC / MMA Submission Of 2020?
This poll is closed
Alexander Romanov’s Forearm Choke
Ariane Lipski’s Kneebar
Jimmy Flick’s Flying Triangle Choke
Aljamain Sterling’s Rear Naked Choke
A.J. McKee’s Neck Crank
Other (Explain in comments section below)