As 2013 comes to an end and we all eagerly look forward to the prospect of paying the UFC a monthly subscription fee next year, it’s a good time to take a look back at what the year gave us by way of submission. There were a lot of great, technical submissions put on by some very talented fighters in 2013, but we somehow have to narrow it down and decide on which ones were the best and why. I have whittled down a short list of submissions that I thought stood out for one reason or another, so let us now rundown my list of 2013’s top submissions, and find out which one I think was the submission of the year.
Obviously not every armbar and americana that was cranked in 2013 can make the top five, so along with presenting what I feel are the best submissions of the year, here are few that also stood out, and are worth going back and enjoying all over again.
-Jorge Masvidal’s second-round brabo choke of Mike Chiesa at UFC on Fox 8,
-Donald Cerrone’s second-round triangle of Evan Dunham at UFC 167,
-Josh Burkman’s first-round guillotine choke of Jon Fitch at WSOF 2,
-Rose Namajunas’ first-round flying armbar of Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5,
-Renan Barao’s fourth-round arm-triangle choke of Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7,
-Urijah Faber’s second-round guillotine choke of Michael McDonald at UFC on Fox 9.
And now onto the Top 5:
5.) Fabricio Werdum’s second-round armbar of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC on Fuel TV 10.
These two are both known for their BJJ prowess, and anyone who faces either man knows going into the fight that they may be leaving the cage sans a limb or two. Minotauro is one of those fighters that although looks a bit shopworn, is capable of either taking your head off or making you submit seemingly out of nowhere, and as John Anik said during the first round of this fight, “Doubt Minotauro at your own peril”. Werdum came out in the second round looking like he had a bit more left in the tank than Nogueira, and he took the Pride legend’s back about halfway through the round and went for a belly-down armbar and unlike in his fight with Frank Mir, Minotauro avoided serious injury by tapping with just over two minutes left in round two.
4.) Michael Chandler’s rear-naked choke of Rick Hawn at Bellator 85.
This might be my personal favorite submission of the year. Michael Chandler’s first defense of the Bellator lightweight title came on January 17th, at Bellator 85, when he took on tournament winner and Olympic Judo competitor Rick Hawn. In the second round, Chandler had Hawn against the fence, latched onto a body lock, got the takedown, and cranked a rear-naked choke that sent the two men backwards to the mat with Hawn’s neck almost being lifted off his shoulders. Chandler found the choke as if his forearms had been magnetized to Hawn’s neck, and once the two became connected the only thing separating them was the tap by Hawn.
3.) Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza’s first-round kimura of Ed Herman at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs Saffiedine.
Herman took this fight on short notice, filling for Lorenz Larkin as the only UFC fighter to ever hop over to Strikeforce for a one-night engagement. The decision proved to be a perilous one, as Jacare got Herman down to the mat repeatedly in the first round with his superior grappling, and Herman, who is also a BJJ black belt, tapped after Jacare isolated Herman’s arm and cranked a kimura from side-mount at 3:25 of round 1.
2.) Chael Sonnen’s first-round guillotine of Mauricio ‘Shogun Rua at UFC Fight Night 26.
This is the one submission on the list that I can say that I watched in person. On the very first day on the air for the newly launched Fox Sport 1 channel, the UFC headed to Boston for a stacked card to launch its partner’s new sports network. After losing a light heavyweight title opportunity against champion Jon Jones back in April, Chael Sonnen was looking to get back to his winning ways against Shogun, who himself was also coming off a loss to Alexander Gustafsson last December. Chael came out and immediately landed a double-leg on Shogun, and the grappling match begun. Sonnen controlled the fight for the majority of the first round, and in the final minute jumped guard and sunk in a guillotine that Shogun could not break free from and caused the former Pride Grand-Prix champion to tap with less than 15 seconds left in the round.
This one ends up so high on the list partly because of the ‘surprise’ factor. Sonnen is known for his smothering wrestling, but also is known for being submitted by men like Demian Maia and Anderson Silva. For him to attempt a submission that lands him on his back against a fighter like Shogun Rua, who had only been submitted twice prior to that in his 27 fights, showed that Sonnen was not fighting with a risk-averse style that most wrestlers in mixed martial arts employ. The win vaulted Sonnen back into “the mix” at 205 pounds, and was one of the biggest submissions of 2013.
1.) Anthony Pettis’ first-round armbar of Benson Henderson at UFC 164.
After a long string of bad luck and injuries, the former WEC champion finally found himself in a UFC lightweight title fight, against the man who he defeated back at WEC 53, Benson Henderson. Henderson is a black belt in Brazilian jui jitsu, and even walked out to the cage that night with his gi on along with his BJJ black belt. ‘Showtime’ didn’t need five rounds in this title fight, as after a series of fight-changing body kicks in the first round, kicks that lit up Henderson’s midsection one after the other, Pettis wound up on his back with Bendo in his full guard. Pettis latched on an armbar that made Henderson give a verbal tap with less than 30 second left in the first round, crowning Anthony Pettis the new UFC lightweight champion.
This submission won out over the others because of both the fact that Benson Henderson has fantastic grappling, and that it was such a highly anticipated rematch, with a UFC title on the line. I’d venture to guess that more people would have guessed a finish by a spinning back kick or a flying knee if all they knew was that Pettis won the fight in the first round. Although the immediate reaction to the finish was somewhat subdued, due to it being a verbal tap that not even referee Herb Dean picked up on, in my opinion this was 2013’s submission of the year.