9 Most Painful Submissions in MMA

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2012

9 Most Painful Submissions in MMA

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    Submissions are one of the ways to end a fight in mixed martial arts. They, like knockouts, are decisive victories that ensure an opponent leaves no doubt in anyone's mind who was the better man.

    Submissions come in many forms. There are armlocks, leglocks, choke holds and compression locks. All of these are painful, but some of are more painful than others.

    Here are the nine most painful submissions.

Heel Hook

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    If there is one MMA move that I would fear the most, it is the heel hook. It is just a blown-out knee waiting to happen. 

    The move is so dangerous that some grappling tournaments don't allow the hold. Guys like Rousimar Palhares have demonstrated how devastating the hold is.

    A heel hook usually entails a figure four hold of the opponent's leg. The performer puts torque on the ankle and twists, which in turn adds a great amount of stress on the ankle.

    Don't count me in as somebody who ever wants to be caught in that position.


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    If there are any people who can attest how dangerous and painful the Kimura lock is, it is the Gracie family. Kazushi Sakuraba and Masahiko Kimura are among the people who have submitted them in that way. 

    The attacker grabs a double wristlock and cranks behind the opponent's back. The hold puts an incredible amount of stress on the shoulder, which could cause horrible damage.

    One of the worst things we have seen is when Frank Mir broke Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's arm in horrendous fashion with a Kimura.

Calf Slicer

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    The rarely seen calf slicer is tough to pull off in MMA, but when it is, it causes unbelievable pain.

    A compression lock, the calf slicer sees the performer use his shin as a fulcrum. The performer presses the calf into the bone of the leg causing immense pain as the muscle compresses.

    Two examples off the top of my head that I remember are Ivan Menjivar's calf slicer of Joe Lauzon back in the day and Charles Oliveira's recent one of Eric Wisely.


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    There aren't any chokeholds that are as painful as the gogoplata.

    The fighter executing the choke is usually on bottom. He takes his shin and runs it across his opponent's windpipe. Then, the executor locks his hands behind the opponent's head, which puts extreme torque on the opponent's neck.

    Asphyxiation is destined to follow. Don't be surprised if you have neck pain as well.

Achilles Lock

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    The Achilles lock is very rarely seen anymore, but it is absolutely devastating. 

    It is a compression lock in which the the Achilles tendon is pressed to the back of the opponent's ankle. The extreme stress on the Achilles tendon, which is very sensitive and, well, necessary to stand and walk, will leave opponents in severe pain and tapping like there is no tomorrow.

    It was seen a lot more in Japanese MMA.


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    Probably the most rarely used submission in MMA, opponents might want to be happy that this move is not often seen.

    The twister is a spine lock. Yes, you read that right, it is a compression lock on the spine, which is necessary to do all things.

    Using back mount and a one hook in between the opponent's legs, the performer than grabs a hold of the opponent's head and cranks it the opposite direction.

    It is immensely painful, but the only one the UFC has ever seen was Chan Sung Jung's twister of Leonard Garcia.


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    One of the most basic moves in grappling, the armbar is also among the most painful.

    The attacker grabs hold of the opponent's arm and extends his legs across their chest to gain leverage. The thigh or hip is then used on the elbow to hyperextend the joint, completing the hold.

    Failure to tap out could result in a dislocated elbow or broken arm, as seen when Frank Mir broke Tim Sylvia's arm.


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    A kneebar is performed exactly like an armbar, so you know it is going to be very painful.

    The performer wraps around the front of the opponent's leg and cranks the wrong way on the leg. This way, the leg get pulled forward, hyperextending and eventually destroying the opponent's leg.

    There is even a cooler version where the performer can roll into the kneebar.

Neck Crank

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    It's bad enough when you don't sleep well and wake up with a sore neck, but it's even worse to get put in a neck crank.

    The hold sees the executor pull or extend the opponent's head beyond the normal range of motion. It puts a great deal of pain in the neck and spine, which is often enough to earn a tap.