A good submission may not be the most exciting way to win an MMA contest, but is a true demonstration of the high level of skill involved within the sport. A knockout may get the plaudits, but nothing is more dominant than breaking your opponents will and forcing them to give up. This year we have been treated to some wonderful submission stoppages with none more emphatic than Nate Diaz’ win over Conor McGregor in one of the biggest grossing PPV’s in UFC history.
UFC 196 had one of the most heated rivalries coming in, with the featherweight champion, McGregor stepping up two weight divisions to fight the polarizing Stockton fighter, Nate Diaz at welterweight. The bout was one of the most highly anticipated in the sport’s history, as the two were heavily involved in verbal jousting in the weeks building up towards fight night.
Diaz went into the bout with the size and experience advantage, yet was somewhat of a side attraction to the UFC’s star man, and was widely tipped to be yet another victim in ‘The Notorious one’s’ rise to the top. But the veteran absolutely did not read the script. Having been outstruck in the opening round, the Irishman appeared to tire allowing Diaz a route back into the fight.
After a number of trademark ‘Stockton slaps’ and a few decent shots of his own, Diaz rocked the champ who desperately attempted to shoot for a takedown, but to no avail. The more experienced Jiu-jitsu practicioner, Diaz gained top position and quickly taking McGregor’s back and applying a textbook Rear Nake Choke to the Dubliner, who was forced to tap in one of the upsets of the year.
It was a pretty routine finish but due to the magnitude of the contest and the momentum that McGregor had accumulated throughout his UFC run, it was a hugely significant moment, and earned Diaz the biggest scalp of his storied career. The promo that followed the fight was also an iconic moment with the 31-year-old delivering the now legendary, “I’m not surprised Motherf***ers”, in response to those who had written him off prior to the fight.
McGregor, humbled, had to retreat from his usual brash nature and was visibly affected by the loss. He did eventually avenge this defeat in a five round war at UFC 202. Though he did regain some credibility, that night is something that is not only in the history books, but has also earned Nate Diaz the RealSport award for submission of 2016.
Michael ‘Venom‘ Page vs. Jeremiah Holloway, Bellator 153 (Toe Hold)
Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone vs. Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira, UFC FN 83 (Triangle Choke)
Miesha ‘Cupcake’ Tate vs. Holly Holm, UFC 196 (Rear Naked Choke)
Ben Rothwell vs. Josh Barnett, UFC on Fox 18 (Guillotine Choke)