To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the UFC, let’s take a glimpse into the future and explore our rankings of the ten most brutal submissions in UFC history. For additional fight announcements and up-to-the-minute updates, be sure to visit our UFC news section, where you’ll find an array of breaking content.
The origins of the UFC can be traced back to 1993 when the world of mixed martial arts sought to determine the dominant skill set in a raw and unrestricted fighting tournament. Competitors from various disciplines such as karate, boxing, and wrestling gathered from around the globe to participate in the inaugural UFC event. Surprisingly, it was the smallest fighter, Royce Gracie from Brazil, who emerged victorious by employing a combination of chokes and arm locks to subdue his opponents. This groundbreaking performance showcased the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, establishing it as the supreme martial art for combat. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on technical proficiency, enabling individuals of smaller stature to compete on equal footing against much larger adversaries. Gracie’s success served as a testament to the potency of this skill at the time.
Fast forward three decades and the UFC now celebrates its remarkable growth, still recognizing the significant role of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the sport. It has become almost indispensable for emerging fighters in the UFC to demonstrate competence in ground-based techniques. While debates among experts continue regarding the best base martial art, the enduring influence of a strong Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background remains evident. Within the Octagon, we have witnessed some of the most vicious submissions ever executed, showcasing the ongoing impact of this martial art.
10.Anthony Hernandez def. Rodolfo Vieira – UFC Fight 258
The submission’s incredible nature lies in its astonishing unlikelihood. Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez courageously accepted the fight on short notice, stepping into the ring as a massive underdog with odds of +400 against him. His opponent, Rodolfo Vieira, is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in history, which made Hernandez’s chances appear virtually non-existent. However, as the fight unfolded, Vieira surprisingly depleted his stamina, creating an opening for Hernandez. Seizing this unexpected opportunity, Hernandez delivered a devastating blow and swiftly submitted Vieira from his disadvantaged position on the ground. This extraordinary sequence of events resulted in Hernandez defying all expectations and achieving a remarkable +3300 payout. To this day, it remains one of the most improbable upsets ever witnessed in the sport.
9.BJ Penn def. Matt Hughes – UFC Fight 46: Supernatural
BJ “The Prodigy” Penn earned his well-deserved nickname by attaining a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a remarkably short span of three years. Devoting himself to daily training, Penn embarked on an impressive rampage in the UFC Fight, securing three consecutive knockouts in the first round while triumphing over seasoned contenders such as Din Thomas, Matt Serra, and Takanori Gomi. Matt Hughes, the reigning champion and holder of an extraordinary winning streak, posed a formidable challenge. Despite being considered a significant underdog, Penn swiftly demonstrated his prowess by successfully defending against Hughes’ takedowns, stunning him with a powerful overhand strike, and sealing the victory. Penn’s exceptional flexibility allowed him to execute one of the most memorable submissions against a true legend in the sport.
8.Frank Mir def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – UFC Fight 140
Frank Mir stood out as an exceptional heavyweight jiu-jitsu practitioner within the confines of the Octagon, showcasing skills that can be argued as the finest we have witnessed. His ability to exert immense pressure and swiftly secure submissions was unparalleled, often resulting in the painful fracturing of his adversaries’ limbs. Remarkably, Mir had already shattered the bones of two opponents leading up to his encounter with the renowned jiu-jitsu expert Antonio Nogueira. While the likelihood of Mir submitting Nogueira seemed remote, the course of the fight saw Mir endure a relentless onslaught on the ground. However, defying the odds, Mir executed one of the most brutal and memorable submissions ever witnessed—an arm-breaking kimura that left Nogueira writhing in agony.
7.Ronda Rousey def. Cat Zingano – UFC Fight 184
UFC Women Fighters: Ronda Rousey deserves significant recognition for her pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Women’s MMA today. As the first woman to enter the UFC and garner the same level of stardom as her male counterparts, she shattered barriers and became a trailblazer in the sport. Rousey’s presence alone drew unprecedented attention to the UFC, marking a historic moment where a woman headlined the organization.
Capitalizing on her opportunity as a titleholder, Ronda Rousey seized the spotlight and showcased her remarkable skills. Despite her primarily Judo background and limited experience in mixed martial arts, she faced the formidable Cat Zingano in a highly challenging bout. Astonishingly, Rousey swiftly triumphed in a mere 14 seconds, executing a trademark judo throw that seamlessly transitioned into an armbar. This remarkable submission not only stands as the fastest in UFC history but also represents a defining moment in Rousey’s illustrious career.
The impact of Rousey’s historic victory extended far beyond the Octagon. Countless young women witnessed her awe-inspiring performance and were deeply inspired, feeling a newfound sense of empowerment. Many were moved to embark on their own MMA journeys, driven by Rousey’s trailblazing example. Her influence on the next generation of female fighters cannot be overstated, as she played an instrumental role in encouraging and motivating aspiring athletes across the globe.
In summary, Ronda Rousey’s contributions to Women’s MMA have been immeasurable. She revolutionized the sport by becoming a transcendent figure, captivating audiences and setting new standards for female fighters. Her astonishing 14-second victory against Cat Zingano, with its unparalleled speed and significance, continues to resonate within the annals of UFC history. Most importantly, Rousey’s performance ignited a spark within the hearts of countless young women, empowering them to pursue their dreams in the world of MMA.
6. Frank Mir def. Brock Lesnar – UFC Fight 81
Frank Mir’s career is decorated with numerous remarkable submissions, but perhaps none were as satisfying as his defeat of Brock Lesnar during Lesnar’s debut in the UFC. Lesnar entered the UFC as one of the most prominent crossover sports stars of all time, leading many to believe that he would soon capture UFC gold. Initially, everything seemed to go according to plan for Lesnar during his debut, as he effortlessly took Mir down and unleashed a barrage of strikes. However, Mir quickly countered by transitioning into a leg lock while on his back, ensnaring the inexperienced Lesnar in a devastating knee bar. Lesnar immediately began tapping out, while Mir, determined to make a lasting impression, maintained the hold for a few extra seconds after the referee intervened. Although Lesnar eventually avenged his loss in their subsequent encounter, Mir’s original submission victory will always stand out for its unmatched excitement.
5.Jon Jones def. Lyoto Machida – UFC Fight140
Until this very moment, Jon Jones continues to be universally acclaimed as the greatest of all time (GOAT) in the realm of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). His near-flawless record inside the Octagon and an undeniably formidable track record make his standing unparalleled among all champions. What sets Jones apart is his remarkable proficiency in both submission techniques and wrestling, which can arguably surpass his striking prowess. Over the course of his career, Jones has executed numerous unforgettable submissions, yet none have been as visually stunning as his standing guillotine on the esteemed UFC veteran, Lyoto Machida. Traditionally performed on the mat, Jones’ physical stature worked to his advantage as he expertly applied the standing choke, constricting it tightly against the fence. The referee remained oblivious to Machida’s loss of consciousness until Jon Jones released his grip, resulting in one of the most awe-inspiring and captivating submission victories witnessed in the history of the sport.
4.Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Conor McGregor – UFC Fight 229
UFC Fight 229 remains one of the most significant events in the history of the UFC. Conor McGregor, the prominent star of that era, brought an unprecedented level of excitement and attention to MMA, elevating its status. McGregor’s unique charisma and showmanship, reminiscent of professional wrestling, captivated the UFC audience and made him the sport’s most iconic figure. However, Khabib Nurmagomedov, a relatively lesser-known fighter at the time, swiftly demonstrated that regardless of a star’s magnitude, wrestling skills would always prevail. Nurmagomedov’s triumph over McGregor by submission not only solidified his place on the right side of the greatest MMA rivalry to date but also forever transformed the UFC’s landscape.
3.“The Korean Zombie” def. Leonard Garcia – UFC Fight Night 24
The “Twister” is a distinctive submission technique originally conceived by Eddie Bravo, a notable figure in the realm of jiu-jitsu and owner of 10th Planet. This maneuver involves skillfully isolating multiple body parts of the opponent, inducing a twisting torque that places tremendous strain on them. Firstly, the attacker secures the opponent’s leg(s), effectively trapping them. Subsequently, the attacker proceeds to lock the opponent’s arm on the opposite side and contorts it behind their own back. To execute the maneuver fully, the attacker forcefully rotates the opponent’s neck in the opposite direction, exerting intense pressure on their neck and spine. Historically, the “Twister” was not commonly employed in MMA, but Chan Sung Jung shattered expectations by becoming the inaugural fighter in UFC history to successfully execute this technique during a fight. Since then, the “Twister” has only been replicated once by Bryce Mitchell, a prominent UFC star of the present era.
2.Anderson Silva def. Chael Sonnen – UFC Fight 117
When discussing the greatest of all time in MMA, it would be remiss not to mention Jon Jones. However, Anderson “Spider” Silva can easily stake a claim for the top spot. Silva entered this highly anticipated and hyped fight with an extraordinary winning streak, a feat unmatched in history. Leading up to the fight, Chael Sonnen went to great lengths to disrespect Silva, which seemed to affect him mentally. Despite being the betting underdog at +235, Sonnen dominated Silva throughout the five rounds, making it appear as if Silva was destined for defeat. In a stunning turn of events, during the final minute, Sonnen found himself on the receiving end of Silva’s guard. In a brilliant move, Silva swiftly threw his legs up and secured a triangle submission, causing Sonnen to tap out. This remarkable comeback by Silva will forever be regarded as one of the greatest in MMA history, solidifying his place in the annals of submission legends.
1. Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg – UFC Fight 216
Up until now, it remains one of the most impressive displays of athleticism and technical skill witnessed inside the octagon. Demetrious Johnson’s proficiency in mixed martial arts stands unparalleled, with his submission victory over Ray Borg serving as a prime example. Throughout his 2017 title defense, Johnson dominated Borg for five rounds. As the fight approached its final two minutes, Johnson executed a remarkable sequence: he secured his hands, effortlessly tossed Borg with a suplex, captured his arm mid-fall, ensnared Borg’s head with his leg, and seamlessly transitioned into a tight armbar. It was only a matter of time before Johnson discovered the leverage he needed and coerced Borg into submission. This particular submission not only ranks among the most brutal we have ever witnessed, but it also showcases a level of technical finesse that is visually captivating. Amidst Johnson’s illustrious career, filled with countless highlights, this moment stands atop the list. Truly, it is a spectacle that could be watched repeatedly, endlessly.
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