10 Best MMA Submissions Through 1st Half of 2014
Nate Marquardt closed out Saturday's UFC event in Auckland, New Zealand with a submission win over James Te Huna. However, the former middleweight title challenger still fell short of scoring the most impressive submission of the weekend.
That honor went to Charles Oliveira, who locked up an anaconda choke against Hatsu Hioki. While we have seen anaconda chokes executed previously inside the Octagon, nobody had ever forced the Japanese featherweight to tap.
For that reason alone, Oliveira's win against Hioki has been one of the more impressive submissions in 2014.
Where does it stand in the race for the 2014 Submission of the Year award? Here is a closer look at the 10 best submissions of the calendar year through six months.
10. Tito Ortiz
Matchup: Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 120
Method: Arm-triangle choke
Closing in on 40 years old, Tito Ortiz isn't long for the MMA world. However, the former UFC champion surprised some people by showing he's still got some left in the tank at Bellator 120.
Facing Alexander Shlemenko, who had established himself as one of the best middleweights competing outside the Octagon, Ortiz locked up an arm-triangle choke in the first round.
Yes, Ortiz had a significant size advantage over Shlemenko. However, submitting the Russian is still an accomplishment. Shlemenko hadn't been forced to tap since an April 2006 bout with grappling wizard Ronaldo Souza.
9. Charles Oliveira
Matchup: Hatsu Hioki at UFC Fight Night: Marquardt vs. Te Huna
Method: Anaconda choke
Oliveira is developing a reputation for scoring flashy submissions.
He was a leader for 2012 Submission of the Year with a calf slicer against Eric Wisely. Now, he's in the running for 2014 Submission of the Year following an anaconda choke against Hatsu Hioki.
In 36 prior bouts, Hioki had never been submitted. However, in the middle of a scramble, Oliveira wrapped up the Shooto veteran's neck and forced a tap.
8. Eduardo Dantas
Matchup: Anthony Leone at Bellator 111
Method: Rear-naked choke
At Bellator 111, Eduardo Dantas defended his bantamweight championship impressively.
Following a surprisingly competitive first round with Anthony Leone, Dantas was able to take control on the ground. As Leone tried to take Dantas down from behind, the champion creatively sat back and assumed back control. With his hands occupied by the takedown attempt, Leone had no way of defending against the rear-naked choke and was quickly finished.
Submissions like this have the 25-year-old Dantas looking like a future star in MMA.
7. David Branch
Matchup: Jesse Taylor at WSOF 10
Method: Brabo choke
Since being released from the UFC with a 2-2 record inside the Octagon, David Branch has been on a roll.
He did hit a speed bump against Anthony Johnson at Titan FC 22, but he has won his six other fights since leaving the world's top MMA promotion. At WSOF 10, Branch was given an opportunity to capture the WSOF middleweight title, and he took care of business on the ground.
Facing fellow UFC veteran Jesse Taylor, Branch locked up a Brabo choke less than two minutes in to become the inaugural WSOF middleweight champion. At 32 years old, he isn't likely to progress into a UFC contender, but WSOF will give him a good opportunity to become a noteworthy name in MMA before he decides to call it quits.
6. Marcin Held
Matchup: Rodrigo Cavalheiro Correia at Bellator 113
Method: Toe hold
Already with three submission wins in 2014, Marcin Held was bound to have at least one submission victory make it onto this list.
His most impressive submission of the year came against Rodrigo Cavalheiro Correia at Bellator 113. Less than two minutes into the opening round, Held attacked Correia's leg, switching from a heel hook to a toe hold to complete the submission.
We don't see toe holds much in today's MMA, which is why the 22-year-old Held is among the most exciting up-and-coming grapplers in the sport.
5. Ovince Saint Preux
Matchup: Nikita Krylov at UFC 171
Method: Shoulder choke
Heading into 2014, Ovince Saint Preux was hardly known as an elite grappler, but he's changing that with two submission wins in the past few months.
At UFC 171 he opted not to stand with Ukrainian Nikita Krylov. Going to the ground turned out to be an excellent decision. When Krylov made the mistake of holding onto Saint Preux's head, the Strikeforce veteran quickly took advantage by putting his opponent to sleep with a rare Von Flue choke.
Following that win up with a submission against Ryan Jimmo, Saint Preux appears to be hitting his stride on the canvas. If he continues to put everything together, he could develop into a contender in the light heavyweight division.
4. Ilir Latifi
Matchup: Cyrille Diabate at UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa
Method: Guillotine choke
Ilir Latifi was thrown to the wolves in his UFC debut against Gegard Mousasi. The matchup did not allow the Swedish light heavyweight to showcase his abilities at all, which led to many feeling he didn't belong at the highest level.
In March he quieted his doubters in a big way.
Competing against a solid veteran in Cyrille Diabate, Latifi muscled his way to a submission win. Three minutes in, he locked up a modified guillotine choke and forced Diabate to tap.
3. Pat Curran
Matchup: Daniel Straus at Bellator 112
Method: Rear-naked choke
Despite being soundly beaten by Daniel Straus at Bellator 106, Pat Curran was given an immediate rematch four months later on.
In March he made the most of an opportunity many felt was undeserved.
Heading into the fifth round, he appeared to be down on the scorecards. Another loss to Straus would have meant Curran would be a long way from another shot at the featherweight championship, so Paddy Mike turned it up.
With only 14 seconds remaining in the contest, he was able to secure a rear-naked choke and reclaimed his 145-pound crown.
2. Rousimar Palhares
Matchup: Steve Carl at WSOF 9
Method: Inverted heel hook
Everybody who faces Rousimar Palhares knows the heel hook is coming. However, few have been able to stop it.
At WSOF 9, he did it again. Facing Steve Carl in a welterweight championship bout, Palhares locked up an inverted heel hook moments after going to the ground. The Brazilian's biggest challenge in that fight might have simply been letting go of the heel hook, an issue that forced the UFC to release him in 2013.
The submission was Palhares' ninth heel hook in 22 career bouts. No matter how much opponents prepare, he continues to find a way to lock up his go-to submission.
1. Luke Rockhold
Matchup: Tim Boetsch at UFC 172
Method: Inverted triangle and kimura
Luke Rockhold's first six wins came via submission, but the former Strikeforce champion seemed to have gotten away from his ground game recently.
At UFC 172 he went back to his grappling, and the move paid dividends.
Less than two minutes into the first round, he secured an inverted triangle, which he used to control Tim Boetsch while setting up a kimura. Having to defend against multiple submissions simultaneously, Boetsch was doomed and eventually had to tap.