The 8 Best Armbars in MMA History
Thousands of fights have ended this way in UFC history, but there's still something special about an armbar.
It's an amazing hold that proves one person's limb, no matter how strong, will always lose to his opponent's entire body and the power of science.
Ronda Rousey, the undisputed queen of the armbar, has brought the hold back to the forefront. But Rousey isn't the only submission fighter who has won significant fights with her go-to hold.
Joining Rousey on my list are seven other superlative fighters who helped remind us over the years just how vulnerable the elbow really is.
8. Matt Hughes Schools GSP (UFC 50)
When did we know for sure that Matt Hughes was more than a wrestler? Probably right around UFC 50 when he countered a Georges St-Pierre Kimura attempt with a picture perfect armbar.
A thing of beauty.
7. Royce Gracie Beats Jason DeLucia (UFC 2)
Royce Gracie's armbar win over Jason DeLucia wasn't the first in UFC history. Remco Pardoel, a judo player, won a preliminary bout earlier in the night via armlock as well.
But it's certainly the most iconic, thanks to a brilliant photograph that commemorated the moment for all time.
6. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Beats the Great Mirko Cro Cop
Mirko Cro Cop was undefeated in nine MMA fights. With his powerful striking and uncanny ability to defend takedowns, he looked like a future champion.
Against Nogueira, he looked amazing. As the first round ended, the Croatian striker dropped the submission fighter with a kick and a sizzling left hand.
Cro Cop had been mistake-free for 10 minutes—but it couldn't last. Nog opened the second round with a takedown, secured mount, and showed the world the savvy that made him a champion.
5. Rickson Gracie Versus Nobuhiko Takada (Pride 3)
Rickson Gracie is such a badass he was actually too good to represent the Gracie family in the early UFCs. A beast of a man, if he ran through the field of competition, fans would just say "Well, that was one tough hombre." The credit would have gone to the athlete and not the martial art.
Rickson's brother Rorion was selling Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He wanted the art to get the bulk of the credit, so Rickson was left on the bench. Instead, his younger, skinnier brother Royce got the nod and the rest is history.
Rickson was left to ply his trade in Japan, where he helped launch Pride with two wins over pro-wrestling great Nobuhika Takada. Both wins, via armbar, helped launch a meme: Rickson by armbar.
4. Fedor Emelianenko Versus Hong Man Choi (Yarrenoka 2007)
Fedor Emelianenko is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time. Beating Hong Man Choi, a man most famous for being large, isn't one of his top accomplishments.
But how can you look at this photograph and not smile?
3. Frank Mir Breaks Tim Sylvia's Arm (UFC 48)
An angry Sylvia asked Dean, "What the f--- do you think you're doing?" and argued for the fight to go on. Sylvia was distracted by thoughts other than his injury; he was mad that he'd let himself get caught in an arm bar and that he would lose his chance at the title because of it. When Mir approached to console him and promise a rematch, Sylvia said, "We'll fight now, man. It's not over." But it was.
"I heard it break," Sylvia says today of his arm. "But during the fight it didn't hurt at all." The first real pain came when he high-fived a fan on the way out of the arena. Later, as he sat alone on a gurney waiting to go to the hospital, the pain rushed in. Sylvia's arm was found to have multiple fractures that required three titanium plates to fix. "[The ref] probably saved my career," he says.
2. Ronda Rousey Tears Miesha Tate to Shreds (Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey)
Ronda Rousey approached international judo a little differently than her contemporaries. She didn't look for the throw first—she attacked the arm. Always.
In her MMA career, nothing has changed. Eight fights, eight armbar submissions. Miesha Tate said she wouldn't fall for Rousey's tricks. She was defenseless.
Can anyone stop the "Rowdy" one?
1. Rumina Sato Proves Man Can Fly (Shooto: Devilock Fighters)
It only took Shooto star Rumina Sato six seconds to write his name into MMA history.
Don't let his meager 26-16-2 record fool you. Sato is a bona fide legend and one of the sport's all time most exciting fighters.