The Ninth Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards are now taking your votes, but in case you’re divided over who to vote for in the Submission of the Year category here’s a quick reminder of the best chokes from 2016.
Ben Rothwell’s go-go choke (Josh Barnett, UFC on Fox 18)
Heavyweight contests don’t typically end via submission. It’s usually by KO/TKO or decision. Ben Rothwell, however, had other ideas, despite coming up against a supreme grappler in Josh Barnett. Against all expectations, Rothwell made history by submitting Barnett at the 3:48 mark of the second round via go-go choke (a modified guillotine choke), marking the first time the former UFC champion had ever tapped out to a submission.
Nate Diaz’s rear naked choke (Conor McGregor, UFC 196)
Stepping into a main event slot for a UFC pay-per-view on 11 days notice against the sports biggest star and winning by submission is just the way Nate Diaz rolls. With a reported 1.65 million buys, Diaz tapping out a floundering Conor McGregor in the second round via rear naked choke gripped Planet MMA. It shocked the world, but when Joe Rogan asked for a reaction Diaz delivered one of the most iconic lines history” ‘I’m not surprised motherf**kers.’
Miesha Tate’s rear naked choke (Holly Holm, UFC 196)
UFC 196 comes up again on this year’s nominations list and a great example of a submission when you need it the most when the stakes couldn’t be higher. Miesha Tate was challenging then bantamweight champion Holly Holm for the title and the fight wasn’t going her way. Holly Holm was on cruise control for the first four round and was just minutes aware from retaining the belt when, out of nowhere, Tate was able to slap on a rear naked choke deep into the fifth round. After numerous failed attempts, Tate was finally the UFC women’s 135lb champion.
MacKenzie Dern’s modified Imanari (Montana Stewart, Legacy 61)
It was a breakout year for BJJ superstar MacKenzie Dern as she made her transition into MMA and ended her rookie year 2-0, one of which included this incredible submission. She faced Montana Stewart at Legacy 61 and from the opening bell was transitioning from submission attempt to submission attempt. She went from an omoplata to a rear naked choke and ultimately ended the bout with a modified Imanari. If that’s a glimpse at what’s to come, more please MacKenzie!
Thiago Moises’ armbar (David Castillo, RFA 35)
Who doesn’t like a comeback win? That’s what happened when Thiago Moises defeated David Castillo at RFA 35 to become the new lightweight champion. The fight didn’t start out well as Castillo was getting the better of the standup exchange and even knocked Moises down in the first round. The second round, however, was a different story as the Brazilian was able to latch on to Castillo’s arm, helicopter him into position, then secured the armbar to perfection.
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