Top 5 submissions in UFC history

RealSport's definitive ranking of the five best submissions in UFC history - which of these incredible submissions will be #1?


Some of the best submissions in UFC history aren’t the most unique, painful, or difficult that we have seen.

Rather, our list of the best five submissions in the history of the UFC features submissions from fighters who exemplified extraordinary heart, determination and shockingly overwhelming control of their opponent.

  1. 5 BJ Penn vs Matt Hughes


    UFC 46 - January 2004

    When BJ Penn moved up a division to challenge Matt Hughes, who was regarded as one of the best fighters to ever stepped inside the UFC's octagon, many thought that it was a ridiculous idea.

    One man believed it wasn't, though, and that was BJ Penn.

    Penn completely outclassed the much bigger Matt Hughes before submitting him in the first round with a rear-naked choke.

    Penn's performance at UFC 46 remains of the most memorable moments in UFC history.

  2. 4 Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg II


    UFC 52 - April 2005

    The rematch between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg is up there with the most exciting fights of all time.

    Frank Trigg connected with a low blow in the early moments of the fight, to which Hughes looked at the referee to intervene. Yamasaki didn't step in, though, and Trigg proceeded to make the most of this opportunity by rushing towards Matt Hughes who was obviously in pain.

    Trigg took Hughes' back and it looked to be all over when Trigg punched through for a rear-naked choke attempt. However, Hughes managed to escape the choke and turn the fight around completely. He picked Trigg up and ran across the octagon with him on his shoulders before slamming him into the mat.

    Hughes beat Trigg up momentarily before submitting him with a rear-naked choke with a submission victory that was worthy of a standing ovation.

  3. 3 Chan Sung Jung vs Leonard Garcia II


    UFC Fight Night 24 - March 2011

    When "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung introduced Eddie Bravo's "Twister" to the UFC, it sent jiu-jitsu fans all around the world wild.

    The "Twister" is an incredibly difficult submission in mixed martial arts, let alone in actual jiu-jitsu tournaments. The submission is a type of spine lock, which with a thrust of the hips into an opponent's back and a rotation of the head and shoulders while the legs of an opponent are locked down, can cause all sorts of serious damage. Quite simply, it's a type of submission that you don't want to be stuck in because it is both incredibly painful and once in there, it's near impossible to escape.

    Eddie Bravo described seeing the submission in the UFC as "surreal" and described why Chan Sung Jung's twister belongs in this list:

    If you get someone in an armbar or an arm-triangle, no one really cares to see the video, it's not an exciting thing. But if you put someone in a twister, it trips people out.

  4. 2 Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen


    UFC 117 - August 2010

    To this day, many of us are still wondering how Anderson Silva managed to turn this fight around and submit Chael Sonnen.

    Actually, Sonnen himself probably lays in bed at night questioning the same thing.

    Sonnen was on the way to scoring a clear unanimous decision victory against Silva after having beaten him up for four rounds. Somehow, in the fifth and final round, Silva transitioned into a triangle choke (and armbar) and forced Sonnen to submit.

    It was the equivalent of a ballsy hail mary play deep in the fourth quarter of an NFL game, and Silva made it look easy.

  5. 1 Mir vs Nogueira II


    UFC 140 - December 2011

    If you think watching knockouts are brutal, then try watching a Frank Mir submission.

    Mir's implacable pursuit to snap arms, twist joints and choke people unconscious means that he has always been one of the most exciting finishers in the UFC's history.

    After becoming the first man to ever KO Minotauro Nogueira, Frank Mir also became the first to ever submit him too, when they met at UFC 140.

    Nogueira jiu-jitsu was feared by almost all heavyweight's around the world, yet Mir got into position to yank at the arm of "Big Nog".  Mir locked a kimura grip and proceeded to twist and turn while many expected Nogueira to tap. Nogueira wouldn't tap, though, and ended up having his arm snapped by the submission machine that is Frank Mir.

    What's even more impressive is that Mir was on the losing end of a dominant round one from Nogueira, who had almost finished Frank Mir.

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Jake Nichols

Jake is a mixed martial arts analyst and reporter from Australia for The Body Lock.

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