UFC 172 Results: Power Ranking the Submission Finishes in Baltimore
UFC 172 was a good night for grappling aficionados. Sure, there have been fight cards with more total submissions, and there have often been cards with one particular sub that stood out as more memorable.
But Saturday night in Baltimore was notable for a couple of reasons: It tied UFC Fight Night 34 for the most submissions on a card in 2014 (four), and the submissions were all standouts in their own way.
So in the spirit of celebrating the sometimes-ignored art of a well-crafted submission, here is a power ranking of the great work done by those who earned taps at UFC 172.
4. Max Holloway Def. Andre Fili, Guillotine Choke
On any other night, young Max Holloway would have been reveling in attention and commendation for his slick guillotine finish against Andre Fili. At UFC 172, he was just another face in the crowd.
After a solid scrap that lasted late into the third round, the finish came on a scrambled transition that allowed a narrow window of attack for Holloway. He sprung to action, latching onto Fili's neck and tightening a guillotine in short order to procure the tap.
It was a great finish and a new wrinkle in the evolving game of a young talent, and on another night, he might have even earned a bonus. Tough break on that, but no less beautiful in its execution.
3. Jim Miller Def. Yancy Medeiros, Guillotine Choke
It's no secret that people love Jim Miller. He's got a particular blue-collar resonance, coming across as the type of guy you could grab a beer with if you went to school with him instead of watching him wail on guys in a cage.
He's also popular thanks to his aggressive style, one centered on a willingness to take risks in pursuit of a finish. That's exactly what he did against Yancy Medeiros at UFC 172, and it paid off in the form of his 13th career win via submission.
After a heated battle in close that was punctuated by some dirty boxing and a takedown, Miller jumped on his opponent's neck with a guillotine and dropped to half guard. It was a risky play, as the position is incredibly hard to close the choke from, but Miller knew what he was doing.
He bumped his hips and slowly pulled himself to a more constrictive point, clamping down and closing off the blood flow to Medeiros' brain. Left with no other option, Medeiros simply faded away and lost the bout via technical submission.
It was a great piece of jiu-jitsu made possible only by Miller's uniquely aggressive approach to implementing technique, one that landed him his third win in four fights.
2. Joseph Benavidez Def. Tim Elliott, Mounted Neck Crank
For how long it lasted, Joseph Benavidez-Tim Elliott was the embodiment of everything good about flyweight MMA. It was high-octane chaos punctuated by wild grappling exchanges and striking flourishes with bad intentions, concluded with a nasty neck crank as the cherry on top.
It's unfortunate that more guys can't be found at the weight class, because those who can are incredibly committed to putting on a show.
Benavidez, probably losing the first round, managed to get himself to mount in one of the frenzied ground battles and locked up a savage mounted guillotine when he did. He interlaced his feet around Elliott's hips and began to torque with everything he could, trapping his opponent's hands in the process.
From there, his head being yanked from his body, all Elliott could do was tap—except, without free hands, he was left to flail wildly with his feet until referee Mario Yamasaki realized what was happening.
The submission was remarkable, but it was the act of submitting that was even more memorable. This was a great finish, one that netted Benavidez a performance bonus for his work.
1. Luke Rockhold Def. Tim Boetsch, Kimura
It's probably not a secret that Luke Rockhold's UFC 172 work was impressive. Actually, there's an argument that it was perfect. Lack of bonus money notwithstanding, the smooth calm and expert execution of Rockhold's inverted triangle-to-kimura finish was something to behold.
His ability to adapt a good sprawl into the purest of positional offense, then build that into a series of attacks that allowed him to finish the fight without breaking a sweat is what jiu-jitsu is all about. It was a defining performance, and it took him only 128 seconds to complete it.
Benavidez might have had a flashier finish, but Rockhold had the submission that came on like a boa constrictor suffocating its prey. It was harsh, tight and progressively more nightmarish, then it was over.
It was the best of the best in Baltimore.