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Nate Diaz, Jon Jones and Anderson Silva: The top 10 submissions in UFC history

Submissions are the foundation of MMA; the finishing moves that exemplify Brazilian Jiu Jitsu took the world by storm back at UFC 1 and continue to do so today. Here are the top 10 in UFC history.

10) Demian Maia defeats Rick Story by rear naked choke, UFC 153: Silva vs Bonnar.

Demian Maia is one of the finest submission artists to ever grace the UFC octagon, with a glittering grappling resume that includes gold medals at ADCC and the Pan American Championships, Maia was famous for his suffocating style that many couldn't deal with.
His opponent at UFC 153 was Rick Story, a talented wrestler from Southern Oregon University. Story was a ten fight UFC veteran prior to facing Maia and had never been finished in his career, so the matchup was a delight for fans of high level grappling.

Instantly Maia executed his gameplan, securing his first takedown within the opening seconds of the fight, Maia dominated Story and never let him get a moment's rest with his smothering top game.

After transitioning to Story's back, Maia snuck his right arm onto the face of Story, knowing he had his prey caught he began to crank the submission with all he had.
Blood streaming from the nose of Story, the American had no choice but to tap, securing Maia's first submission win at welterweight and announcing himself as a serious contender to the rest of the division.

9) Nate Diaz defeats Conor McGregor by rear naked choke, UFC 196: McGregor vs Diaz.

"You're taking everything I worked for motherf***r, you know the real money fight is me"

With one post-fight callout Nate Diaz put the wheels in motion that would begin one of the biggest rivalries of all time.
Diaz uttered the famous words after defeating Michael Johnson on the Rafael dos Anjos vs Donald Cerrone II undercard, an injury to dos Anjos in addition to Diaz's scathing callout led the UFC to book Stockton's finest in a main event spot opposite McGregor at UFC 196.
Entering the contest as a 3/1 underdog against the Irishman, Diaz was calm and composed in the opening stanza, despite this short notice contest being the biggest fight of his career he showed no fear on the biggest stage.
A kickboxing war suddenly burst into life as Diaz stung McGregor with 1-2 combinations on the feet, needing a change of strategy McGregor shot for a takedown which was countered by Diaz.

After a brief scramble on the matt Diaz sliced through McGregor's guard and entered full mount, receiving heavy punishment from his opponent, McGregor turned his back where Diaz sunk in a lightning quick rear naked choke which submitted the Irishman.

The parting words were typical Diaz, when Joe Rogan interviewed him in the cage he just told him that he had shook up the world, Diaz's response?

"I'm not surprised motherf****s".

8) Jon Jones defeats Lyoto Machida by standing guillotine choke, UFC 140: Jones vs Machida.

The dominance and excellence of Jon Jones is second to none.
The youngest champion in UFC history, winning the title from a legend of the sport in Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Jones catapulted himself into superstardom at a young age and has stayed in the spotlight ever since.
To stay in the spotlight for as long as Jones has you must do two things, win fights and win them impressively.
Jones' victory over Machida is one of the most impressive and gruesome of his career.
Entering their UFC 140 matchup, Jones was the current champion being touted as one of the most naturally gifted athletes the sport had ever seen. Machida was the former champion, an expert in karate whose illusive style had bested almost everyone he had ever faced.
Machida's mastery of distance and counter striking was his greatest asset, with his ability to always be out of his opponents range a frustrating factor Jones had to contend with in the opening round.
The final minute of the first round saw Machida explode with a karate blitz, briefly staggering Jones and forcing him to retreat, but the resolve of Jones held firm and he was back in front of his Brazilian challenger in no time.
A tentative second round exploded into life as Machida landed another blitz on Jones, the champion fired back with a stinging right hand that wobbled the challenger and employed his world class wrestling to take the fight to the ground.
A slicing elbow cut Machida who managed to return to his feet, after being checked over by the doctor and returned to their original position, Jones knew he had his man hurt and decided to go for the kill.
A superman punch with his left dropped the challenger to his knees, the attempted scramble saw Jones latch onto Machida's neck and stand him upright.
With a grip like a python, Jones choked Machida unconscious as they stood up, when the referee told him to release the submission Machida crashed to the canvas like a ragdoll, discarded by its owner without a care in the world.
Jon Jones was the winner by standing guillotine choke, the image of Machida's lifeless body laying on the canvas was horrifying, the UFC light-heavyweight belt just a spoil of war for the greatest of all time.

7) Ronda Rousey defeats Liz Carmouche by armbar, UFC 157: Rousey vs Carmouche

"When will women fight in the UFC?"
"Never"
By now that TMZ interview is part of MMA history, Dana White saying in 2011 he would never allow women to fight in the UFC.
Two years later, and after the UFC acquired Strikeforce and its talented roster which included female fighters, the first women's bantamweight title fight was booked in the UFC between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche.
White credits Rousey explicitly for women being allowed to fight in the UFC, in a discussion with Rousey on her ESPN+ program "Rowdy's Places" White spoke of his decision and how one conversation changed everything.
"When I was saying we'll never have women in the UFC, I was having a hard enough time getting men fighting in a cage accepted let alone women. You approached me, and we had like a 45-minute conversation, and halfway through it I started going, 'Oh my God, I think I'm gonna do this. And she's definitely the one to do this with."
Such a career needs a marquee moment to set the wheels of destiny in motion and for Rousey that came in her debut against Carmouche.
The winner of the bout would make history, the loser would be a footnote in her story.
Rousey's world class Judo was on display early as she immediately looked to tie up Carmouche against the cage, knowing once she got the fight to the ground the fight was all but over.
But Carmouche fought valiantly, fighting off takedowns at every opportunity and even managing to take the back of Rousey and apply a face crank, hoping the pain would make her submit.
With all her might, Rousey shook the challenger from her back and threw her to the canvas, at that point the fight changed.
Rousey engaged her opponent on the ground, quickly assuming top position and securing a headlock, as she reigned down punches on Carmouche the next phase began.
Switching up her attack, Rousey latched onto Carmouches arm and began to isolate it, Carmouche was brave but was no match for Rousey's skills as the future UFC hall of famer peeled her arm away and extended it Carmouche was forced to submit.
Rousey was the champion, a career as one of the UFC's biggest stars had begun, women had officially arrived in the UFC.

6) Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Justin Gaethje by triangle choke, UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje

To be the best you must stand alone at the top of the division, there are no consolation prizes and no sharing of the title, it is one man who has realized the dreams of so many more.
This is what Khabib Nurmagomedov had to negotiate prior to UFC 254, after defeating all who had come before him, he once again had his title reign put under scrutiny, as the UFC crowned Justin Gaethje as the interim champion in the first fight card back after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many tragedies, but for Khabib there would be one that be life changing.
His father and longtime coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov sadly succumbed to complications to do with COVID-19 on 03/07/20, leaving behind a loving family and dedicated fight team.
Naturally Khabib was devastated, his father was his inspiration and had coached him throughout his career, fighting without him would almost feel wrong.
But Khabib marched on and looked to unify his title with Gaethje without his father by his side.
The fight was billed as Khabib's toughest test to date, Gaethje's superb punching power, fantastic wrestling and "Homer Simpson-like" ability to take a punch were all highlighted before the fight began.
A fast-paced opening round featured Khabib striking with Gaethje, his critics would often say his striking was subpar compared to his world class wrestling, and Gaethje landing big shots but none of them affecting Khabib or slowing down his constant pressure.
That pressure continued in the second and only one minute into the round, Khabib had taken Gaethje down and secured his back.
Then, as fast as lighting, Khabib transitions the mount position; attacks an arm and then secures a triangle choke before Gaethje had time to think, the American had no choice but to tap and Khabib unified his title.
After all the heartache and pain of losing his father and all of the doubt from his critics, Khabib had won, and what he did next shocked everyone in attendance and watching at home.
"No way I'm going to come here without my father. It was first time after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin, I talk with my mother three days. She doesn't want me to go fight without my father, but I promised her it was going to be my last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here."
And with that the champion was gone, retiring undefeated and undisputed, honoring the memory of his late father.

5) Matt Hughes defeats Frank Trigg by rear naked choke, UFC 52: Couture vs Liddell II

Trash talk, controversy and title fights often go hand in hand and the rematch between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg had it all.
Even the stare down between the two was heated, as they locked eyes and squared up to each other Hughes pushed Trigg away and the two men went back to their corners ready to wage war.
Hughes the decorated champion, Trigg the brash veteran looking to usurp his throne.
Controversy occurred moments into the fight, after initiating a clinch position and firing knees at each other, one of Trigg's shots landed low and put Hughes in immense pain.
Referee Mario Yamasaki missed the foul, so Trigg began to pounce on his wounded opponent dropping him to the canvas with short shots, Matt Hughes was in trouble.
After reigning down shots from the mount position for a further minute, Trigg secured Hughes' back and began to lock in a rear naked choke, the welterweight title Hughes had defended so valiantly appeared to be slipping away.
However, Trigg couldn't hold on much longer and as he looked to readjust his grip, Hughes escaped the submission attempt and began to turn the tide of the fight.
As Hughes escaped, he picked Trigg up with all his might and ran him over to the opposite corner of the cage, slamming the challenger onto his back.
Now it was Hughes' turn to reign down hellfire from mount, as he landed one final shot he snuck his arm under the neck of Trigg, securing the rear naked choke and giving Trigg no alternative but to tap.
Matt Hughes was declared the winner by rear naked choke at 4:05 of round 1, a one round fight with all the action of a five-round fight, no wonder UFC president Dana White called the fight his favourite of all time.

4) Anderson Silva defeats Chael Sonnen by triangle armbar, UFC 117: Silva vs Sonnen

One of the finest talents to ever grace the UFC octagon, Anderson Silva was capable of absolute brilliance when he stepped into the cage, or absolute foolishness.
Despite being one of the most dynamic strikers in UFC history and a man who could finish a fight at any moment, Silva had a tendency to coast in certain fights often clowning his opponents whilst making minimal effort to finish the fight.
One such example was his title defense against Demian Maia, the UFC 112 contest was the first to take place in Abu Dhabi and the UFC wanted to put on a good show for their hosts, unfortunately Silva didn't get the memo and put on one the most boring performances of his career.
Enter Chael Sonnen.
Growing up on the mean streets of West Linn, Oregon, Sonnen knew how to sell a fight and his constant trash talk of Silva caught the attention of the UFC, but did the challenger have a chance?
The answer to that was a resounding yes, pushing the pace from the opening bell and even staggering the champion with right hands, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Sonnen was a serious challenge.
A barrage of takedowns forced the champion to work off his back, all whilst Sonnen controlled the positions and landed shots of his own.
Anderson Silva, forever the puzzle nobody could solve, looked to be heading for a resounding defeat.

As the rounds ticked away, and exhausted from carrying Sonnen's weight for four rounds, Silva threw up a lightning-fast triangle choke from his back which he locked in almost instantly.

He followed that up by attacking an armbar as Sonnen tried to escape the triangle, battered and bloody with nowhere else to go, Chael Sonnen tapped, and the fight was over.
Four and a half rounds of dominance all for nothing because of one second of brilliance, MMA can be a cruel sport sometimes, but that's why we love it.

3) Frank Mir defeats Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira by kimura, UFC 140: Jones vs Machida

Grappling legends faced off in the co-main event of UFC 140, Frank Mir and Minotauro Nogueira had won nearly every accolade in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu between them, but who would reign supreme in the octagon?
It wasn't their first meeting though, at UFC 92 Mir became the first man to finish Nogueira with strikes, winning the interim heavyweight title as a result.
Nogueira was out for revenge.
When two elite submission artists square off, there is a risk that their skills will cancel each other out and a subpar kickboxing match will take place, and with neither man giving an inch in the opening minutes, fans would be forgiven for thinking that's what was on the cards.
But at the midway point in the round the contest sprung into action, Nogueira landed several slicing elbows in the clinch forcing Mir to disengage, then a stinging 1-2 combination from the Brazilian wobbled Mir and forced him to shoot for a takedown.
Nogueira appeared to have locked in a guillotine choke, but Mir rolled out of it and reversed the position, both men were locked together like two pythons battling for dominance.
As Nogueira looked to take Mir's back, the American landed in side control and immediately attacked a kimura on Nogueira's right arm, as Mir swung his legs over to the left of Nogueira they came down with an almighty slam, reminding everyone at home that these were two heavyweight athletes squaring off.
Nogueira winced in pain as Mir wrenched his right arm at the elbow joint, he attempted to flip Mir from the bottom position through pure strength, but Mir reversed the position and wound up on top.
As the submission grew tighter and tighter Nogueira was faced with every grappler's nightmare decision, tap or snap.
The decision was made for him as just as he began to tap, Mir snapped his arm and the referee stopped the fight, the great Minotauro Nogueira had been submitted by his old rival, surely ending the debate between the two men.

2) Chan Sung Jung defeats Leonard Garcia by twister, UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs Davis

In one of the worst judging displays ever seen at the time, Leonard Garcia defeated Chan Sung Jung by split decision at WEC 48: Aldo vs Faber.
A back-and-forth fight saw "The Korean Zombie" piece up Garcia with technical striking, however the judges seemed to think that Garcia's wild brawling style was enough to award him the victory.
After the UFC purchased the WEC and absorbed their roster of fighters, the pair were scheduled to rematch for Jung's UFC debut.
Joe Rogan dubbed their original bout "The fight of the decade" expectations were high for the rematch, and it would take something truly special to overshadow their first bout.
A first round of technical kickboxing saw Jung score a takedown with a trip, an early armbar attempt was thwarted by Garcia, whose sprawl and brawl style was not built for technical Jiu Jitsu matches.
During the final seconds of the opening round Jung showed off his speed when transitioning on the ground, effortlessly taking Garcia's back in the blink of an eye, that technical skill would be needed to disarm a tough brawler like Garcia.
Much like the first round, round two saw technical kickboxing take center stage, but in the final minute of the round Garcia ended up on his back after a high kick missed by a whisker.
From then on Jung took control, landing savage elbows and taking the back of Garcia.
Using his back control, rather than going for a rear naked choke Jung isolated Garcia's leg and wrapped his arms around his head, cranking the spine of Garcia and securing a win by the first twister in UFC history.
Earning a $50,000 bonus for submission of the night was nice, but the plaudits for submission of the year are something money can't buy, Chan Sung Jung will go down in UFC history scoring one of the best submissions of all time.

1) Demetrious Johnson defeats Ray Borg by suplex armbar, UFC 216: Ferguson vs Lee

Great careers are defined by great moments, Conor McGregor defeating Jose Aldo inside 13 seconds, Mike Tyson becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history and with one not so simple move, Demetrious Johnson submitting Ray Borg.
Johnson had been the UFC's only ever flyweight champion, dominant displays over all who challenged him made "Mighty Mouse" look untouchable and had him near the top of the pound for pound rankings.
By the time he was to face Borg, Johnson had amassed a career record of 26-2-1 and was undefeated since a loss to Dominick Cruz at bantamweight six years prior.
Borg was an unheralded challenger, with an 11-2 career record and winner of his last two fights, he was expected to provide little resistance to Johnson.
The fight was a one-sided affair, Johnson battered Borg from pillar to post throughout, never once looking in any danger from the challenger from Arizona.
A criticism levelled at Johnson was that his fights were not exciting, that his superior skills compared to his challengers led to his fights being forgone conclusions and he had no need to finish his fights as the judges would have to be insane not to score them in his favour.
Hearing that criticism and already comfortably ahead in the fight, Johnson produced a moment of magic that will be replayed on his own highlight reel and the UFC's highlight reels for the rest of time.
Having taken Borg's back, Johnson launched him into the air with a suplex, and as Borg was falling caught him in a perfect armbar before he had even hit the canvas.
The commentary booth and crowd alike exploded into life, Borg fought as hard as he could and winced in pain throughout, but the champions grip was too tight, and Borg was forced to tap out at 3:15 of round five.
Dominating throughout, Johnson's brilliance shone through in that one moment of magic, the champion has a name, and his name is Demetrious Johnson.
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