UFC 118: Demian Maia and the 10 Greatest Triangle Chokes in MMA History
The triangle choke submission has almost become synonymous with UFC middleweight contender Demian Maia.
The Brazilian is world renowned for his deadly jiu-jitsu prowess and is considered by many as the most dangerous submission specialist in MMA.
At UFC 118, Maia will look to work his way back into title contention against Mario Miranda on the night’s main card.
Yet another triangle choke victory may be in the works for Maia so in honor of the chokehold let’s take a look back at the top 10 best executed triangle chokes in MMA history.
10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira def. Mark Coleman- PRIDE 16 (9/24/2001)
Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira may be in a slump as of late but he will always be revered as one of the greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners to ever compete in mixed martial arts.
Nine years ago, Nogueira made his debut in the organization that would become home to many of his legendary battles—the PRIDE Fighting Championships.
In his second fight in PRIDE, “Minotauro” stepped into the ring with former UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman in a highly anticipated heavyweight battle.
After dominating Coleman on the feet with crisp boxing technique, the fight hit the floor and Nogueira transitioned into a beautiful triangle choke.
The choke alone wasn’t enough to finish Coleman so while holding the choke in place, the crafty jiu-jitsu black belt slapped on an armbar forcing “The Hammer” to quickly submit.
9. Kevin Burns def. Roan Carneiro- UFC 85 (6/7/2008)
The fight between Kevin Burns and Roan Carneiro is proof that anything a fighter has accomplished outside of the Octagon doesn’t always stay with them once they step inside.
Carneiro was renowned for his world class grappling ability having won championships in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the Pan Ams.
Very few gave Burns—a UFC newcomer and BJJ purple belt at the time—much of a chance and viewed him as a sacrificial mouse to the vicious snake that was Carneiro.
Three minutes into the second round and fans witnessed an incredible upset as Burns choked the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt out with a triangle choke.
8. Mackens Semerzier def. Wagney Fabiano- WEC 43 (10/10/2009)
Speaking of incredible upsets, here’s another triangle choke victory that few people in the world predicted. Wagney Fabiano was and arguably still is considered the best jiu-jitsu specialist in the featherweight division.
With two WEC victories under his belt, Fabiano was thought to be a few wins away from a title shot before meeting Mackens Semerzier at WEC 43.
If you would have told fans before the bout that Semerzier was going to choke Fabiano out in the very first round, they would have put you in a mental institution, but, sure enough, that is exactly what happened.
7. Nate Diaz def. Kurt Pellegrino- UFC Fight Night 13 (4/2/2008)
Stockton, California bad-boy Nathan Diaz will kick off the pay-per-view portion of the UFC 118 card against Boston’s own Marcus Davis.
Diaz is a scrappy striker but much like his brother Nick he is an absolute terror on the ground. One fight that really displayed Diaz’s high level jiu-jitsu ability was his bout against Kurt Pellegrino at UFC Fight Night 13.
Pellegrino seemingly won the first round of the fight but in the second round Diaz caught “Batman” in a tight triangle choke.
As soon as he slapped the choke on, Diaz knew the fight was over and while holding the choke proceeded to throw his hands in the air and flip both middle fingers before Pellegrino tapped.
You stay classy, Nate Diaz…
6. Demian Maia def. Ed Herman- UFC 83 (4/19/2008)
Heading into his UFC 83 bout with Ed Herman, Maia was not entirely well known by most MMA fans. In his debut, Maia submitted Ryan Jensen on the UFC 77 undercard, but most fans still had no idea just how versatile the Brazilian wass on the ground.
A finalist on season three of The Ultimate Fighter, Herman had more name recognition than any of Maia’s previous opponents. Herman avoided Maia’s submissions in the first round but wasn’t so lucky in the second frame.
Herman made the mistake of entering Maia’s butterfly guard and, from there, Maia transitioned swiftly into an extremely tight triangle choke.
Herman refused to surrender and tried his best to free himself but he lost consciousness after somehow ending up on his back with the choke still secured.
5. Royce Gracie def. Dan Severn- UFC 4 (12/16/1994)
In the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship there were no rules, no rounds and no weight classes. Fighters also were not as well-rounded as they are today and early UFC matchups mostly featured one particular martial art against another.
Perhaps the most intriguing style vs. style matchup of the early days was the bout between Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Royce Gracie and All-American wrestler Dan Severn at UFC 4.
With 10 consecutive victories in the Octagon, Gracie was actually viewed as a heavy favorite against the much larger Severn. However, Severn opened a lot of eyes smothering Gracie for a majority of the fight with his top control.
It seemed like Severn’s wrestling was negating Gracie’s jiu-jitsu until Gracie locked his legs and applied a fight-finishing triangle choke for the submission just a little over 15 minutes into the bout.
4. Daiju Takase def. Anderson Silva- PRIDE 26 (6/8/2003)
Before Anderson Silva was the dominant UFC champion we know today, he was cutting his teeth in Japan over in the PRIDE Fighting Championships.
After racking up three impressive victories in the PRIDE ring including a vicious knockout over former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton, Silva was paired up against journeyman fighter Daiju Takase.
Takase entered the fight with a record of 4-7 and was thought to be an easy win for Silva. It seemed as if Silva didn’t take Takase as a serious opponent and ended up paying dearly for it.
Takase thoroughly controlled the pace of the fight before setting up a beautiful triangle forcing “The Spider” to tap out.
3. Toby Imada def. Jorge Masvidal- Bellator 5 (5/1/2009)
As an upstart promotion in 2009, the Bellator Fighting Championships were struggling to get noticed by the masses in the MMA industry. That was until the season one lightweight tournament matchup between Toby Imada and Jorge Masvidal took place.
Masvidal was the favorite heading into the fight and as expected was in control of the matchup right before the unthinkable happened. Imada latched onto an unbelievably rare inverted triangle choke to finish the fight.
The submission was voted by many as Submission of the Year for 2009 and instantly became a hit on YouTube.
2. Anderson Silva def. Chael Sonnen- UFC 117 (8/7/2010)
For months heading into their clash at UFC 117, Chael Sonnen unleashed a verbal beatdown on Anderson Silva.
Sonnen was confident that he would hand Silva the worst beating of his life and would walk out of Oakland, California with the UFC middleweight championship wrapped firmly around his waist.
For 24 minutes, Sonnen backed up all of his trash talk tossing Silva around the Octagon like a ragdoll.
Sonnen was dominating the fight with his overwhelming wrestling base and even managed to rock Silva quite a few times in the standup exchanges of the fight as well.
Then with about two minutes left in the fight, Silva pulled off an incredible come from behind submission victory. A deadly combination of a triangle choke and an armbar forced Sonnen into submission at 3:10 into the fifth and final round.
1. Fabricio Werdum def. Fedor Emelianenko- Strikeforce (6/26/2010)
For 10 straight years, “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko reigned over the heavyweight division like a true monarch.
Barring a controversial loss to Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Emelianenko remained unbeaten for the past decade and grew seemingly more untouchable with each fight—at least in the eyes of his most beloved supporters.
The truth was, as talented as Emelianenko is, he wasn’t testing himself against the best heavyweights in the world. Nevertheless, regardless of his level of competition, few predicted a loss in the Russian’s next fight against former UFC contender Fabricio Werdum.
In the beginning of the fight, things looked well for Emelianenko but everything would quickly change once the fight hit the floor.
Werdum shocked the world, transitioning into a vicious triangle choke to earn a victory over a man that many considered the top pound for pound fighter in the entire sport.
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