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Unofficial Half-Year Awards – Submissions

Yesterday, we here at covered the half-year knockout awards, which featured James Irvin’s KO of Houston Alexander in the top position. Today we analyze the slick and crafty submissions that have made the top of the list for the first six months of 2008. The top five is as follows:

5 — It’s a tie in fifth position between underdog Kevin Burns and his triangle choke of Roan Carneiro, and former “TUF” cast member Cole Miller and his triangle choke of Jorge Gurgel respectively. For Burns, no one was expecting the Wells Fargo employee to beat the more experienced Carneiro who holds a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but at 2:53 into the second round he shocked the MMA world and did just that. Completely frustrated by the active guard of Burns, Carneiro tried numerous times to pass, all the while absorbing elbow strikes to the head. Shortly after Burns opened a cut on the head of Carneiro, the blue belt from Iowa threw up his hips and cinched in one of the biggest upsets of the year.

Tied with Kevin Burns is Cole Miller, a Georgia native who trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Miller is long, lean, and in my humble opinion, underrated. In his loss to Jeremy Stephens at UFN 12 in January, Miller admits he was lackadaisical and couldn’t get excited in the fight. Miller has publicly stated that’s a loss he wants to someday avenge. One fight that Cole won’t need to avenge is his recent victory over black belt Jorge Gurgel. In a fight where many feel Miller was on the way to losing by decision, he effectively played possum in the closing minute of the third round, only to surprise Gurgel with a burst of energy with less than 30 seconds to go, and secure a very deep triangle choke, forcing Gurgel to tap, a feat no one had accomplished in almost five years.

4 — “Big Nog” guillotines “Big Tim”. Nogueira once again proved that he can absorb more damage than a crash test dummy, being dominated on the feet and at one point even dropped by the “Maine-iac” Tim Sylvia. All Nogueira needed was one little opening to capitalize on, and a minute and a half into the third round of abuse, he found it. Sylvia needed only feel the smothering force of Nogueira’s guillotine for about one second before he knew he had to tap. As a reward for the win, Nogueira became the interim heavyweight champion of the UFC, and will be a coach on “TUF” this fall against Frank Mir. Sylvia went on to leave the UFC, and will now face a man that beaten Nogueira twice and is considered to be the best heavyweight of all-time, Fedor Emelianenko.

3 — Anderson Silva chokes out Dan Henderson. Is there anything that Anderson Silva can’t do? He’s proven that he’s deadly on the feet with multiple wins over strikers like Chris Leben and Rich Franklin, he submitted jiu-jitsu black belt Travis Lutter, now we can add wrestling nullifier to the list, after he weathered a shaky first round only to come back and submit Dan Henderson via rear naked choke in the second round. He has completely bleached out the middleweight division in the UFC, and will now look for challenges in the 205lb. division. His first one comes in the form of James Irvin, who he battles in less than two weeks on July 19.

2 — Frank Mir kneebars “The Next Big Thing”. In their UFC 81 bout, Frank Mir proved you need to be more than a genetic freak to be successful inside the octagon. To Brock Lesnar’s credit, he did take Mir to the mat with ease, and unleashed some ground strikes that had to intimidate the entire heavyweight division before the crafty Mir showed why he’s one of the best submission fighters in the weight class. Only time will tell how Brock Lesnar will fare in the UFC. As for Mir, his next test will be against another big man with ground skills, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

1 — Dustin Hazelett defeats Josh Burkman via armbar. Anyone who saw Hazelett’s reaction after losing by TKO to Josh Koscheck back in March at UFC 82 knows how passionate he is about the sport, and how much he hates losing. Hazelett nearly finished the powerhouse Koscheck in the opening moments of the fight, but was able to rebound and get the better of the 22 year old Hazelett. Against Burkman, Hazelett proved he will not be deterred by the loss as he impressively submitted Burkman in the second round with one of the slickest armbars we’ve seen in recent history. Hazelett trains with Rich Franklin and Jorge Gurgel in Ohio, one day we may be talking about how Franklin and Gurgel train with Hazelett.

I’d like to note that I think it’s a shame that Rousimar Palhares’ armbar over Ivan Salaverry or Nate Diaz’s triangle choke of Kurt Pellegrino didn’t make this list, but all in all, it’s been a great year for the tap, and we still have six months of joint popping, consciousness losing submission action to go in 2008.

Coming Soon: Half-Year Awards – Fights