The 2017 calendar year delivered 39 entertaining, action-packed cards, and with the 12 months of scraps now in our rear view, I’m going to reflect on my top 10 submissions of the year. These are all my opinion, so feel free to voice yours in the comments below or on Twitter @GabeKillianMMA.
10) Gerald Meerschaert‘s quick armbar submission of Canadian submission ace Ryan Janes (UFC Fight Night 105, Feb. 19)
Meerschaert was hot off a first round submission win over Joe Gigliotti in his UFC debut heading into his bout against Janes, and made it back to back first round subs by making early work of Janes. It was an impressive finish, especially considering Janes is a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in his own right, and many figured would have the advantage should the fight go there.
9) Brandon Moreno‘s crowd silencing technical rear naked choke submission of Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 108, Apr. 22)
Moreno took on hometown favorite Ortiz in Nashville and got the better of him, eventually putting him to sleep with a choke in the second round of action. Another highlight added to his reel, Moreno earns his slot at number nine on my list.
8) George St. Pierre‘s phenomenal technical rear naked choke submission of Michael Bisping (UFC 217, Nov. 4)
GSP returned to action following a four year layoff to take on Michael Bisping for the UFC Middleweight title in the main event of UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. It was an incredible bout that resulted with a bloody St. Pierre taking the Brit’s back and putting him into a deep sleep with a rear naked choke, ultimately becoming the new UFC Middleweight Champion. It was one of the best performances of St. Pierre’s career and worthy of my number eight slot.
7) Claudia Gadelha‘s dominant rear naked choke submission of Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 212, June 3)
Gadelha surprised many, myself included, by making short work of the tough-to-finish Kowalkiewicz in her native Brazil, taking the Pole to the mat, securing the back and sinking in a rear naked choke to earn the tap and victory. It was arguably the best performance of the Brazilian’s career, though she unfortunately followed it up with the worst in a unanimous decision loss to Jessica Andrade.
6) Iuri Alcantara‘s big come from behind kneebar submission of formerly undefeated Luke Sanders (UFC 209, Mar. 4)
Alcantara was nearly finished both in the first round and in the second, but he survived and wound up catching Sanders with a kneebar and forcing a tap. The veteran’s second round submission was the 14th career win by tapout.
5) Tony Ferguson‘s bloody triangle choke submission of Kevin Lee (UFC 216, Oct. 7)
Ferguson and Lee went to war for the UFC’s interim-lightweight title. It was a back and forth bloodbath that concluded with Ferguson securing a triangle choke off his back and earning the tapout victory.
4) Demetrious Johnson‘s next level suplex-to-armbar submission of Ray Borg (UFC 216, Oct. 7)
Though it ranks at just number four on my list, this may very well have been the top UFC highlight of the year, as it was constantly played everywhere and instantly included in the new UFC video game. After a five round domination of Borg, Johnson beautifully suplexed him into an armbar and earned the tap for the submission victory, setting a record for most title defenses in UFC history. I think it is worth noting that he dodged a matchup with TJ Dillashaw in order to have a much easier time setting that record, despite having a lesser payday.
3) Brett Johns‘ ridiculous calf slicer submission of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Joe Soto (TUF 26 Finale, Dec. 1)
Johns took on Soto in arguably the stiffest test of his professional mixed martial arts career and defeated the submission ace with an incredible calf slicer while being tangled up on the mat. He capitalized on the opportunity and earned arguably the biggest win of his career. The Welshman remains undefeated and adds an incredible highlight to his reel.
2) Brian Ortega‘s second round guillotine choke submission of Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 123, Dec. 9)
Ortega was being outstruck by Swanson in the early going of the first round of their bout, but he latched onto a guillotine choke in the tail end of the frame, where Swanson was dead to rights only to be saved by the bell. He did not have the same luck in the second when Ortega jumped for a standing guillotine choke, splendidly wrapping his himself around Swanson and readjusting himself mid-air. It was a brilliant submission finish by “T-City” and well worthy of the number two slot on my list for the year.
1) Oleksiy Oliynyk‘s bewildering, jawdropping, puzzling, head-scratching, uncanny and rare Ezekiel Choke submission of Viktor Pesta (UFC Fight Night 103, Jan. 15)
Pesta took the Ukrainian down and mounted him, and when he appeared to be in big trouble, we saw Pesta start tapping and were left wondering what the heck happened. What happened was we witnessed the first ever Ezekiel choke in UFC history, though it was the 10th of Oliynyk’s professional mixed martial arts career. It was a very impressive and memorable submission, and it is well deserving of the top spot on my list.