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The 411 MMA Year-End Awards 1.14.13: Part Five – The Best Submissions of 2012

January 14, 2013 | Posted by Larry Csonka

Welcome back to the MMA Top 5, year-end awards edition! What we are going to is take a topic and all the writers here on 411 MMA will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, and the end, based on where all of these topics rank on people’s list, we will create an overall Top 5 list. It looks a little like this…

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

At the end we tally the scores and get our overall top 5! It’s highly non-official and final, like WAMMA. What we are going to do over the next few weeks is run the column twice a week to crown our best of 2012. From best and worst fight to best fighter and KO of the year, the staff will come together to share out best. Thanks for joining us, and lets get down to work.

And now…


Patrick Mullin
5. Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely, UFC on FOX 2 – Oliveira had some tough luck competing in the stacked 155 pound division so he made the decision to drop to 145 pounds. He made his debut against Eric Wisely and the talented grappler won in spectacular fashion with the extremely rare calf slicer(BJJ)/stepover toehold(catch wrestling) submission. Oliveira locked up Wisely’s leg and damn near folded it over beyond itself for one of the best submissions of the year.

4. Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner, UFC on FOX 4 – Varner was one of the feel good stories of the year with his UFC comeback win against Edson Barboza. He didn’t get any break in his second fight being matched up against Joe Lauzon. After a good first round Varner and Lauzon both visibly tired heading into the second. After Varner scored a takedown, Lauzon used a hip switch to bait Varner into posting his arm, which allowed Lauzon to first feint a sweep into the mount and then trap Varner’s arm and head in a tight triangle choke to earn a hard fought victory.

3. Martin Kampmann vs. Thiago Alves, UFC on FX 2 – We all love a good come from behind victory. In an even fight that saw things get more difficult for Kampmann as it went on, he looked to be headed for sure defeat against the much larger Alves as the seconds ticked down in the third and final round. However as Alves himself grew tired he shot in for a double leg to try and ride out the clock, making the fundamental mistake of leaving his neck exposed. Kampmann used his underrated submission skills to lock up a tight guillotine and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

2. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey – Submissions executed with technical prowess are beautiful to watch, as are surprise holds that get locked in out of nowhere. However sometimes sheer brutality can be just as exciting. Rousey had initially gotten her armbar on Tate early in the fight only to have Tate ride it out and find an escape. Not taking “no” for an answer, Rousey would find the armbar again and when Tate refused to tap out Ronda proceeded to dislocate Tate’s elbow to add to her arm collection.

1. Marcin Held vs. Rich Clementi, Bellator 81 – Young Marcin Held had a tough draw in the UFC veteran Clementi in Bellator’s Season 7 lightweight tournament semifinal. The youngster from Poland pulled off a tremendous submission by locking in a toe hold with an arm trap. During a scramble he was able to hook Clementi’s leg and arm with his own legs allowing him to crank the toe hold and force the submission that sent Clementi into retirement. It was an absolute gem.

Jonathan Solomon
5. Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner, UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera – Out of all my picks, this is the one fight that had the biggest stage thanks to being showcased on network television. The pair did not disappoint with a close fight despite the fact that Jamie Varner was gassed in the second round. Joe Lauzon’s ground game is always pleasant to watch and this was no different because the fight ending sequence saw him sweep Varner before locking on a triangle. Jamie was forced to tap out after eating several elbows, combined with the chokehold, and there was just over two-minutes left in the fight at that point.

4. Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier, UFC on Fuel 3: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier – Scheduled for five rounds, they battled back and forth for your of them. When Jung nailed a perfect uppercut, followed with a flying knee, the end was near. Poirier was caught in a textbook D’Arce Choke, bring the fight to a close. The perseverance the Korean Zombie displayed was tremendous because he took a lot of shots throughout the course of the previous 15 minutes before he caught Dustin.

3. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey – Ronda Rousey is a bad woman. Miesha Tate is tough as nails. We knew this well before they fought in March, but it was nice to see it before our very eyes in the main event on Showtime. Tate and Rousey developed a hatred towards one another while building up the fight and it all came to a head when Ronda went straight to work early on. On the ground, Miesha had more success than any of Ronda’s previous opponents by avoiding the quick armbar submission. Unfortunately for her, she could not stay on her feet because of the judoka’s strength. Finally, at 4:27 of the opening round, Tate’s arm, caught in another armbar, was hyperextended and she ultimately had to tap out and the legend of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey grew to a fever pitch.

2. Karl Amoussou vs. Bryan Baker, Bellator 72 – The Bellator welterweight tournament championship at stake, the “Killer” Karl Amoussou did not waste any time. After being poked in the eye, he took a few moments to get his wits about him. On the restart, Baker kicked him and the fight went to the ground in a scramble. Amoussou gained control of Bryan’s leg and latched on a heel hook for the tap out victory at just 56-seconds of round one. The win earned the Frenchman $100,000 and a guaranteed title shot at Ben Askren which we’ll see on Spike TV later this month.

1. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman, UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar – Was Big Nog’s armbar submission win last summer the most impressive of the year? No way. However, the storyline leading into the fight combined with the finish of the bout made for an incredible scene. In Brazil, Nogueira is treated like the legend he is and his opponent was the cocky American in Herman. In the days before the fight, Dave insisted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu did not work on him and he’d walk through the country’s most beloved fighter. After being in control for most of the fight, Nogueira sent Herman to the ground and sequenced right into an armbar for the win by tap out. The Brazilian crowd exploded and Big Nog had a gigantic smile on his face for one of the most pleasant fights of 2012.


Alex Watt
5. Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, Mounted Triangle Choke, UFC 143 – There were numerous great submissions which could have taken the No. 5 spot on my list. Heel hooks, guillotines, neck cranks and more, were all in the running. A submission that really stood out for me, however, was Dustin Poirier’s impressive mounted triangle of Max Holloway in February. “The Diamond’s” set up of the hold was smooth, snaking his legs into position with relative ease, before cranking on Holloway’s arm for an added incentive for his opponent to tap out.

4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman, Armbar, UFC 153 – Few submission wins in 2012 were as cathartic as this one. Ever since he joined the UFC, the cocky Herman had claimed that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t work on him. As such, when he was matched up with the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – in “Minotauro’s” native Brazil, no less – it was only poetic that the heavyweight submission expert was able to emerge victorious with a slickly executed armbar.

3. Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely, Calf Slicer, UFC on FOX 2 – Just when we thought we’d seen everything inside the Octagon, featherweight prospect Charles Oliveira pulled out one of the rarest submissions in MMA. In his 145lbs debut, “Do Bronx” tied up Eric Wisely’s leg in the seldom seen calf slicer for one of the most unique and painful looking submissions of the year.

2. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, Armbar, Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Tate – Not just a brutally effective submission but a historically significant one too, as this was the fight and the performance which officially changed UFC President Dana White’s mind about women’s MMA. Rousey won the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship with the hold – which was agonizing to watch as Miesha Tate stubbornly resisted the hold until her elbow dislocated – and made “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey the most sought after fighter in the sport. Women in the UFC becomes a reality in 2013 and this submission hold is the reason why.

1. Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier, D’Arce Choke, UFC on FUEL 3 – Last year, “The Korean Zombie” produced one of the best submissions of the year when he pulled off the first Twister in UFC history. In 2012, Jung claims the top spot (on my list) yet again with a beautiful D’Arce Choke. Coming in the fourth round of a thrilling, back and forth war against fellow featherweight contender Dustin Poirier, Jung rocked “The Diamond” with an uppercut and flying knee, before locking in the fight ending submission. That Jung was able to endure some hard strikes and close submission attempts from his opponent to secure the dramatic submission win was impressive enough. That he used Poirier’s signature submission hold to do it was the icing on the cake.

Jeffrey Harris
5. Bibiano Fernandes vs. Yoshiro Maeda, Triangle Choke, DREAM 18 – An amazing end sequence in this fight for Fernandes. He goes for a rear naked choke. Maeda defends and sweeps to the top, but then Fernandes is able to make a slick transition into a triangle choke. Maeda tries to get out but Fernandes sunk it in. Definitely a cool fight to check out if you can.

4. Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier, D’Arce Choke, UFC on FUEL 3 – A back and forth war that was unfortunately probably not seen by enough viewers. Poirier was easily the favorite and arguably next in line to challenge for a featherweight title with a win. Zombie ultimately finished the fight with a D’Arce Choke, when the submission and grappling specialist going into the fight was really Poirier. How ironic that Poirier ended up finishing his next fight with the same technique.

3. Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely, Calf Slicer, UFC on FOX 2 – I’m not sure but I think this was possibly the first ever Calf Slicer in the UFC. Before his hype train got effectively derailed by Cub Swanson, it was performances like this that got me really excited about Oliveira moving down to featherweight. Still pulling off a Calf Slicer in the Octagon is nuts.

2. Demian Maia vs. Rick Story, Neck Crank, UFC 153 – One of the nastiest looking visuals I can recall from a choke in quite some time. Maia cinched in this choke so much that blood was gushing from Story’s mouth. This didn’t get submission of the night for the event but I think it very well should have. Maia had failed to really use his submissions effectively in a fight for quite some time. He hadn’t submitted an opponent since Chael Sonnen in 2009. In recent fights it looked like he was relying too much on his striking and trying to prove that he could stand and bang as well and got away from his stronger points. Now at welterweight he looks to be getting back to what made him such an impressive prospect when he first came into the UFC some years back.

1. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, Armbar, Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Tate – What I couldn’t believe is how Tate survived the first armbar attempt by Rousey in the fight. This is still Rousey’s longest fight to date, but despite facing some adversity early on from Cupcake, she came back and mangled her arm in vicious fashion. Hence the phrase, “Death. Taxes. Rousey by Armbar.”


Alex Rella
5. Miesha Tate vs Julie Kedzie, Armbar – Miesha Tate was on the wrong side of another armbar that will be ranked a little higher but this was also great. Tate got rocked to the ground in the third round by Kedzie but was able to get her legs around her to limit the damage. Then Tate used her great mat skills to pull out the armbar in a really patient and methodical way. An impressive way to end the best fight of the year.

4. Korean Zombie vs Dustin Poirer, D’arce Choke – The d’arce choke is one of my favorite submission moves. It just always looks cool to me and this one was pretty good. The two featherweights had a fun back and forth fight on the Fuel main event to decide the next number one contender. Even though Poirier came into this fight with some nice submission victories on his resume, he would be on the opposite side of this one. The Korean Zombie brought him down with a flying knee in the fourth round and then locked it in for the victory.

3. Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely, Calf Slicer – This was Oliveira’s first fight at featherweight and he got off to a nice start. Calf slicer’s are a rare maneuver and this one looked especially brutal. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should go look it up.

2. Demian Maia vs Rick Story, Neck Crank – This was one of those moments when it was nasty and yet awesome to look at. Maia won his first five fights in the UFC by submission but his last submission victory was in 2009. But Maia has been on a tear since dropping down to welterweight. Maia locked in the neck crank while blood was pouring out of Story’s mouth.

1. Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate, Armbar – Ronda Rousey has wrecked everybody with her finishing maneuver and Tate was no exception. To Tate’s credit she was able to escape the first one and last longer than anyone else ever has but she still fell short. Rousey dislocated her elbow in the second armbar causing her to lose her title and later her mind if you’ve listened to her recent interviews regarding Rousey.

Jon Butterfield
5. Paul Sass vs Jacob Volkmann – Everybody knows Paul Sass has a wicked ground game. Joe Rogan is a huge fan, and routinely tells us so. But still, Jacob Volkmann is the kind of stifling wrestler and submission grappler that many thought could hang around in Sass’ guard, avoiding his vaunted triangle. We were wrong – and so was Volkmann. Sass utilized his long legs to threaten Volkmann one way, then quickly switched to the other side, locked up the triangle, wrenched down on his arm, and took the submission by triangle-armbar. Slick.

4. Matt Wiman vs Paul Sass – Another of my favourite submissions this year came in stunning form, as ‘Handsome’ Matt Wiman evidenced his ever-improving game and submitted Paul Sass in the middle of an excellent first round that showcased grappling at its finest. Many thought Wiman would be best served keeping this one standing and avoiding Sass’ jiu jitsu chops, but Wiman wasn’t to be intimidated. Though Sass was the more active on the ground, Wiman was working fast, hard, and creatively – and the armbar he locked in was a thing of true beauty. Sass looked as shocked as everyone else, but Wiman? He knew he was capable, and he deserves a ton of credit.

3. Charles Oliveira vs Eric Wisely – Beating Eric Wisely may not be the greatest accomplishment of Charles Oliveira’s career, but the manner of the victory was certainly one of the most memorable. Oliveira locked up a rare calf-slicer, tying Wisely up from behind, trapping his leg between his own, and applying a submission that befuddled many a journalist reporting live on Twitter. For some, it wasn’t even apparent why Wisely tapped, or how Oliveira made him do so, but thank goodness for the miracle of modern technology and replays, because Oliveira taught many less-initiated souls a very valuable lesson with a sublime exhibition. Plus, you know, we got to watch it again and again and again. And again. Awesome move.

2. Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate – We all knew Ronda Rousey was awesome at armbars going into this fight, as her record bares a perfect streak of six straight first round armbar submissions, but this was the pick of the bunch. After Miesha somehow survived Rousey’s first attempt, Ronda was able to lock in another – and this time, Tate wasn’t going anywhere. Tate may be tough as nails, but sometimes it doesn’t really matter how much pain you can take, because limbs just aren’t meant to be bent at the kinds of angles as Rousey likes to twist them. MMA’s poster girl dislocated Tate’s arm in a manner Shinya Aoki would have been proud of, and that was that for ‘Takedown’ Tate’s title challenge.

1. Chan Sung Jung vs Dustin Poirier – ‘The Korean Zombie’ has established an army of fans, and it’s easy to see why. His fighting style is extremely exciting, and though his exchanges on the feet can be a little wild at times, he also brings a ton of beauty to the cage. After suffering through a losing streak to mediocre opposition like George Roop and Leonard Garcia, Jung is back in the saddle after scintillating wins over Mark Hominick and Dustin Poirier – and the D’Arce Choke Jung sank in on Poirier to send him to sleep was the slickest move of 2012 in this writer’s eyes! After riding out a number of submission attempts, Poirier’s heart was never in question – but, like with Rousey’s awesome armbar, sometimes your body just can’t take what your mind can! Stemming the blood flow to someone’s head is a pretty good way to make sure you win a fight, but doing it in Chan Sung Jung-fashion also wins you Submission of the Year! Bravo!



5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman – 6pts.


4. Demian Maia vs. Rick Story – 8pts.


3. Charles Oliveria vs. Eric Wisely – 13pts.


2. The Korean Zombie vs. Dustin Poirier – 16pts.


1. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate – 25pts.


* The Biggest Story Of 2012: The Drama Surrounding The UFC 151 Cancellation – 33pts.
* The Most Disappointing Fighter Of 2012: Nick Diaz – 33pts.
* The Breakout Fighter Of 2012: Ronda Rousey – 41 pts.
* The Worst Fight Of 2012: Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida (UFC on FX 4) – 23pts.
* The Best KO Of 2012: TO BE ANNOUNCED
* The Best Submission Of 2012: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate – 25pts.
* The Best Fight Of 2012: TO BE ANNOUNCED
* The 2012 Fighter of the Year: TO BE ANNOUNCED


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Larry Csonka
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