MMATorch Daily Top Five 4/12: Top MMA finishes of 2016’s first quarter

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz (photo credit J. Rebilas © USA Today Sports)

Welcome to MMATorch’s Daily Top Five. Every weekday, tune in for a new Top Five list on a variety of topics; some will be regularly updated, some will be one offs, but we hope you enjoy them all throughout the week! If you’ve got an idea for a Top Five list you’d like to see, email and we may fit them into the weekly mix!

4/12/16: Top MMA Finishes of 2016’s First Quarter Schedule

5. Michael McDonald’s sub-escape-to-sub-win over Masanori Kanehara at UFC 195: The return of former Interim Bantamweight Title challenger Michael McDonald after more than two years out of the cage ended in spectacular fashion, as the 25-year-old escaped a tight arm-triangle choke attempt before quickly transitioning to Kanehara’s back and forcing a quick tap. It was an incredible sequence, and set a high bar for finishes in 2016.

4. Ben Rothwell’s gogo choke submission over Josh Barnett at UFC on Fox 18: Of course, early year bars are meant to be leapt over, and Rothwell did just that a few weeks later at UFC on Fox 18. In a fight against one of the best submission grapplers the heavyweight division’s ever seen, Rothwell caught Barnett in a front choke in the second round. It wasn’t just surprising, it was historic, as Barnett tapped out to a submission hold for the first time in his 19 year MMA career.

3. Stephen Thompson’s first round decimation of Johny Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 82: In one of the most thrilling sequences of the year, Stephen Thompson’s one-round drubbing of former Champ Johny Hendricks came to an end with several spinning strikes and a mixture of punches, kicks, knees, and more. It was beautiful work to move himself very close to title contention.

2. Miesha Tate’s technical submission over Holly Holm at UFC 196: The final two spots on this list might not be the most technical marvels, but their significance – not to mention the shocking nature of each – make them untouchable thus far as fight finishing moments on the year. Miesha Tate was on her way to losing a decision to Holly Holm in her return to a title fight, but instead she caught Holm in a rear naked choke after a scramble, held on as Holm tried to shake her off, and when she failed she went unconscious. Fantastic finish…

1. Nate Diaz’s submission over Conor McGregor at UFC 196: …that was topped just one fight later. Conor McGregor spent the first seven minutes of this fight piecing up his late notice opponent, bloodying him up badly and doing significant damage with his strikes. Then he got tagged. Hard. Diaz recognized how vulnerable McGregor was from there, and kept the pressure on, which caused McGregor to shoot in for an ill-advised takedown. Diaz countered it with a submission attempt, then took a dominant position, forced McGregor to give up his back, and took out the UFC’s top draw with a rear naked choke. Again, not the single greatest finish on its own, but it was an incredible moment, and the best finish of the year so far.

[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]

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